Welcome to Part 5 of the series! Is anyone else impressed that I can talk about the same thing for this long? If you missed previous post in this series, click here to get the first four parts.
Yesterday’s post discussed God’s judgment on David and, by extension, Bathsheba. Yes, they were punished, but they were also forgiven. In a good story tale book or epic chick flick, the characters would respond by rejoicing in their new lives. They would be new people, never recanting their past mistakes, always choosing the right from here on out.
But this Book wasn’t written by humans. The perfect endings we often create don’t always imitate life, and life rarely imitates our fantasies.
Of course David must face his punishment of insurrection to his throne, uprisings and betrayal, but he also was esteemed to write most the poetry we now find in the book of Psalms. (Some of the Psalms were written by others; some written by David before his encounter with Uriah’s wife.) Bathsheba, however, doesn’t get much good written about her. Even after the acts that made her infamous — the adultery, the murder of Uriah, the visit from the prophet Nathan, the death of the child — even after all this, after her subsequent children are grown, Bathsheba is still found on the wrong side of things. She has become friends with Nathan, the prophet, which is good, but she still lacks judgement.
The drama continues and Bathsheba continues to be involved. Adonijah, David’s son by his wife Haggith, tries to claim the throne even before David’s death. He has no right to do this; he just decides he wants to be king and so he collects some supporters and army commanders and declares himself to be the sovereign ruler. Thanks to Nathan’s urging, Bathsheba takes the news to David who then anoints her son Solomon as king. Adonijah is quickly defeated. Almost immediately he asks Bathsheba to petition Solomon on his behalf, and she agrees. Adonijah wants David’s concubine, a virgin named Abishag. Perhaps Bathsheba was just naive, perhaps a little too trusting, but c’mon! She has lived in the palace for how many years and yet she still thinks this is an innocent request? Surely she knew that giving a woman belonging to the king to another would grant superiority to the recipient. I mean, virgins were pretty valuable property. Especially one that had belonged to King David! And yet our girl Bathsheba acquiesces. She aligns herself with others opposing God’s will and God’s chosen ruler. The scene begins with Bathsheba being honored by the king and ends with King Solomon humiliated and angry, Bathsheba embarrassed and Adonijah executed. Oh, and a number of Adonijah’s supporters flee the country, those who do not who do not immediately meet fates identical to their leader’s.
Did she find righteousness? I would like to believe that since she did have four more sons (after the sacrificial firstborn) by David, that the two found restoration for their relationship. I mean, the king had several wives and concubines. He could have called on any of them, but he chose to be with Bathsheba enough for her to bear him several more children. Also, if he found a renewed right relationship with God, I have to believe God convicted him to right things with Bathsheba as well. David chose one of her sons to be his royal heir. Solomon, whom she raised to succeed her husband’s throne, became widely known as the wisest man to ever live. She became friends with the prophet Nathan; one of her sons was even named after him. All of this is good, signals of a life turned toward godliness. But she wasn’t perfect.
mlle. lierre left a great comment on yesterday’s post. After our discussion about the “big idea,” she wrote this: “The idea that God can employ anyone for his glory, even those who have engaged in a sinning spree, is … a true idea, and an applicable idea, but it’s not really the point of David and Bathsheba’s story. Instead, I think it really belongs to someone else’s story—Jesus’ story.” She’s absolutely right! The fact that these sinful people eventually became ancestors of the Messiah has nothing to do with them. It’s a wonderful blessing to them, but not one that they saw in their lifetimes. Nor one that could have been recognized until hundreds of years after they died. The comment continued: “Every story in the Bible is connected to Jesus in some way, of course. What I wonder is what the individual themes of each subplot are. What could David and Bathsheba’s story have taught those who heard it before Jesus arrived?” (Be sure to click over there to read her insightful comment in its entirety.)
I’m always reading several books at one time. It is amazing how often these seemingly random texts intertwine in subject. For example, right now I’m reading a Christian living/doctrine book by Larry Osborne, a contemporary novel by Karen Kingsbury, a Biblical/subjective novel by Francine Rivers, and (of course) a number of books about Bathsheba and other women in the lineage of Christ. All of these have contributed to the understanding of the others. The Rivers book is about Mary, the mother of Jesus, yet it has shed great light on my understanding and interpretations of Bathsheba. The Kingsbury book involves adultery, murder and forgiveness, so obviously common ground exists there as well. The most interesting intersection, though, comes from a chapter in Osborne’s book: 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe. (I know the title is offensive, but just go with me here.) One chapter, the one I reference here, debunks the myth that forgiving means forgetting.
Did Bathsheba find righteousness? We know she was forgiven, but does righteousness come as an automatic result? After masticating on both mlle. lierre’s comment and Osborne’s chapter, I’ve been forced to re-evaluate my perspectives, specifically those on forgiveness. Do my ideas about forgiveness match those of God? Are our views in agreement? Or am I embracing a spiritual myth?
Let me quote a small section from Osborne’s book.
“When it comes to forgiveness, there are two realms: the spiritual and eternal arena and the earthly and temporal arena. God’s forgiveness shows up a little differently in each one.
In the spiritual and eternal realm, forgiveness wipes the slate clean. While God doesn’t forget what we’ve done, He treats us as if it never happened. Spiritual and eternal consequences are completely removed. Judicially, our record is cleared.
But on the earthly level, things are different. God’s forgiveness seldom if ever removes all the consequences or restores all that we’ve broken. Instead, it offers a second chance.”
David and Bathsheba’s story clearly illustrates this. They were given weighty physical consequences on earth, but they were given forgiveness from the spiritual consequences in eternity. God cleared their slates, but He didn’t forget. He used this experience to train them toward righteousness on earth while granting them righteousness in Heaven. It’s the same for us today. When we accept Christ’s forgiveness, we are made new, but that doesn’t mean we never again sin. Our spiritual consequences are removed, but the earthly repercussions of our sin still exist.
Bathsheba may have been a victim or a vixen. If she was anything like me, she was probably a bit of both. The good news is that God’s forgiveness, His restoring power, is the same yesterday, today and forever. He can forgive the vixens. He can restore the victims. He can use both for His glory, continually training the willing hearts toward righteousness.