Last time we talked about the cover-up plot. When the plan to disguise the pregnancy failed, they eliminated the husband. And by “they” I mean David and his commanding officer. Eventually all appearances were righted. David had a new wife, a young widow now pregnant with his child. But, as I mentioned in the first part of this series, our perspectives are not the same as God’s. David probably thought the problem was solved, that he had handled everything just fine on his own. But god didn’t agree. Scripture tells us “…the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD.” (2 Samuel 11:27)
This series is meant to be about Bathsheba, and we will get back to her. But first we need to spend a little more time with the king.
Bathsheba’s pregnancy produced a son. Sometime after that boy was born, God sent the prophet Nathan to David.
Who was Nathan?
We don’t know a ton about Nathan. Allegedly there was once a religious text written by him, one that bore his name, but it is no longer in existence. We do know he was a prophet. Typically prophets delivered messages from God that pertained to the entire nation of Israel. More often than not those messages were about Israel’s sin. They were an attempt to draw God’s people back to Himself. It is no surprise, then, that a prophet was sent to confront sin. The unusual part is the specificity: one man sent to one man about a personal sin.
So, Nathan told David a little parable of a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had tons of goats and sheep while the poor man had only one little lamb. Someone came to visit the rich man, but instead of preparing one of his own animals for the meal, he stole and slaughter the poor man’s lamb. At hearing this, David became livid. He was outraged at the injustice, the cold-hearted cruelty of this rich man. David declared that the man deserved to die and, as punishment, must make four-fold restitution. Then Nathan dropped the bomb: “You are that man!” He then continues to quote the message God gave him for David. It’s a sobering message, one that has me holding my breath until the very end. God lists all the things He has done for David, all the things He has given Him. He reminds David of His great love for Him, provision and protection and He assures him that He would have gladly given him more “if that had been too little.” Then the kicker: “Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight?”
Wait a minute.
Do we equate sin with despising the word of the Lord? I know I don’t. I think I love God and He loves me and so He’ll forgive me and it’s not really that big of a sin and so on and so forth. I rationalize my bad choices. I know what I’ve done is wrong, sometimes intentionally choose to disobey, but I delude myself into believing that I can act against God’s instructions and still get credit for loving Him. Through Nathan, God tells us that when we break His rules, when we sin, we despise His word.
As punishment for David’s sin — yes, the Bible says calls it David’s sin. Not Bathsheba’s sin or Bathsheba and David’s sin. Just David. — As punishment God promises David “… the sword shall never depart from your house …” The prophecy details how evil will rise up against David from within his own house; David’s wives will be given to another and defiled in broad daylight before all Israel. At this, David confessed his sin. (I don’t know why it took him so long! I mean, he didn’t get the point after the story about the rich man stealing the lamb? Maybe Nathan didn’t give him a chance to interject until now. I don’t know, but I hope my confessions come more easily.) Nathan assures David that his sins are forgiven and that he will not die, however — and here’s another kicker — “… because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme,” the child born to Bathsheba would die. And Nathan left.
It’s not fair!
Let’s get back to our original question: Who started it? If we conclude that Bathsheba, the vixen, was to blame, then why didn’t God send Nathan to her? Or to both of them together? Why would God come down so harshly on His chosen king alone if it were really her fault? It’s certainly not fair to David!
If we conclude that Bathsheba was a victim, raped by David and condemned to a terrible situation by her patriarchal culture, then why was she forced to continue suffering? Bathsheba’s pain must have been immense. She not only lost her husband, whom I believe she loved, she also lost her firstborn child. Then she had to completely change her life. No longer was she the wife of one respected man; now she was one of eight wives to a king who had fallen greatly. God’s punishment to David didn’t end with the death of their child. Remember Nathan said the sword would never leave David’s home. Bathsheba was forced to be witness to all that followed: the incestuous rape of Tamar, the murder of Amnon, the rebellion of Absalom, the conspiracy against David … This became a very disfunctional family! And Bathsheba was thrown into the center of it. Even after David died, the turmoil continued, and she had a front row seat.
What’s the point?
I have to tell you right now: I have been studying these passages, these people of history, for two months now and I have no idea why this account is in the Bible. One of my professors at PBU taught us to always look for “the big idea.” We were to major on majors and minor on minors, focus more on the main point than the details. So I’ve been looking for “the big idea” and I can’t find it. At first, I thought it was a warning: don’t mess up like these people did. But people are forever messing up! Then I concluded that the purpose was to show God’s extensive forgiveness and redemption. The problem is that the problems don’t go away. Bathsheba doesn’t get a new life. David’s reign as king goes consistently downhill after this. And poor Uriah! What of him? Things definitely aren’t made right. David’s relationship with God is restored, but never quite the same. Maybe, like so many other stories in Scripture, this is just another example of how God can use imperfect people to accomplish His perfect will.
I don’t know what the point or “big idea” is, but I know that we learn a lot about ourselves and our God through these passages. For example, God doesn’t always view sin the same way we do. We may think it’s personal and isolated or that we can fix it on our own, as David attempted to do. God knows that’s not true. Our sins affect others. Our sins signify a hatred toward God’s laws. Our sins give opportunites to our enemies to mock God and blaspheme His name. This is serious stuff!
And this post is already longer than I had intended it to be. We’ll pick up again tomorrow. I’m going to skip “Mama Loves” this week since, well, I’ve made it pretty obvious Mama loves studying the Old Testament! As I wrote on twitter the other day: Diving into God’s Word makes me giddy. Until tomorrow … Hey! Leave me some comment love! I’d really like to know what y’all think about this series.