Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Lather and lust -- it's all about getting clean
(Just a brief pause here, a personal note to Jessica Munden . . . thank you for following our study and leaving comments, and leaving an inspiring verse yesterday. So glad you are participating, and thank you so much. I haven't been able to reply to you directly, because your settings are on no-reply, and I couldn't leave word on your google page. Hope you continue to study with us!)
When we paused our story, we had noted that it was David, not Bathsheba, who was on a rooftop. I have heard some who seemed to implicate that Bathsheba was somehow to blame for David's seeing her . . . but ancient excavations of Jewish towns have shown us that the ritual, monthly cleansing for women took place in special "bath houses" where ladies could immerse themselves privately and fulfill the guidelines. (One of our faithful friends, Caro, confirmed this from her visit to the area.)
Another reason why I don't think she was flaunting her girlish figure (grin) by bathing on the roof, is that just as David sought peace, quiet, and a cooling breeze on the roof, so did everyone else in town! So I don't think that Bathsheba set her cap for the king and bathed in full view of the entire town. Just sayin'.
It's just possible that David's roof top afforded him with a view through an uncovered window into the mikveh bathing area.
But I'm thinking he should have looked away. (Grin)
The Bible is silent about whether or not Bathsheba and David knew each other personally before this incident. We do know about her family, though. Her father, Eliam, was one of David's "mighty men" in II Samuel 23, and actually, her husband Uriah was, too. That list is thirty-seven men who were David's most skilled and faithful warriors. So her dad and her husband were well known to King David, and her grandfather, Ahithophel, was David's chief counselor. That was a position that placed him above even the priests in rank at court. So, Bathsheba may have been acquainted with the king before she was summoned to the palace. In that case, she might not have thought that it was all that unusual.
Some will call Bathsheba an adulteress, but I am wondering if she was instead a victim? Follow my logic here -- it may be flawed -- you are welcome to tell me you think I'm wrong, if you do think so. In this era, it was customary to do as the king commanded. To go against the wishes of a ruler was really a recipe for becoming either a pariah or a corpse. Seriously.
Remember in the book of Esther? In the first chapter, we read that the king of Persia, Xerxes, told his queen and favorite wife, Vashti, to come to his banquet, where he was entertaining a large number of men. Vashti realized that she was going to be expected to parade about like a prize heifer, for these drunken men to gawk at -- so she sent word back that she would not make an appearance! She was forever banished from the presence of the king . . . in the same book, we find that the heroine, Esther, takes her life in her hands and approaches the king, un-summoned. We'll study her later this year, and learn from her bravery.
It was a big deal to refuse a king what he asked for. Now, I suppose the case could be made that Bathsheba could have had the courage that Vashti showed, and said "No" to David's summons. But we've already seen that she may have met him before, since her family was in service to the king. Maybe she didn't think there was a problem, and was then surprised by his advances. Maybe she was frightened and intimidated, and didn't think she could say "no" when he made his intentions clear. That is a story that we hear many times today; women are victimized and their lives are changed forever. I think that may be what happened . . . notice that when the prophet of God approaches King David, he doesn't say that both of them sinned, but that he sinned, and she is called "a lamb" -- a term that usually denotes innocence. Please take a few moments and read II Samuel 12: 1-15.
and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds; 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6 he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8 I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Yes, he had.
And he had made Bathsheba's situation most desperate: she was pregnant. Her husband was away at war, and if he found out about the pregnancy, he could have her killed. She can't go to the courts to ask for the man who violated her to be held accountable -- it's the king who did this. She must simply wait.
While she waits, King David schemes to cover up his sin. He has Uriah brought home from the battlefield and suggests that he go and visit his wife. Take a rest. Enjoy the comforts of home. You haven't seen your lovely wife in a while -- and it will make it seem like the baby is yours. It's all good. Uriah, however, won't do it. Even though the king tells him to go home and even sends a gift of food with him, Uriah sleeps with the other servants, and says,
And Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents,
and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields.
Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you
live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” (II Samuel 11:11)
Uriah says, it's not fair for me to do that -- the ark of the Lord, and all the soldiers are out on the battlefield . . . I just can't rest and enjoy the comforts of home and the love of my wife. It's not right.
David is probably a little irritated that his plan isn't working. He decides to get Uriah drunk and then he surely will go home. Nope. Didn't work. Even drunk, Uriah knew that the king's command didn't jive with what he was supposed to do as a soldier in the army of Israel. He wanted to do God's work; he would enjoy his home when the work was done.
That is the point at which David made the decision to murder him. He has him sent to the fiercest psrt of the battlefield, and then tells the general (Joab) to pull back and leave Uriah exposed and vulnerable. And so, a good man's life is taken.
We'll conclude our study tomorrow, and see how we can apply it to our own lives.