We are continuing our series Women of the Bible by talking about Bathsheba. Too often we mistake viewing Bathsheba as a minor character in David’s life. Even worse, we view her as the woman involved in David’s big sin. If you are someone who has only thought of Bathsheba as the “bathing beauty” in David’s story, it’s time to learn more about this woman in the Bible who also makes an appearance in the genealogy of Jesus.
Before we begin, it’s important to note that not only is the story from the Bible complicated, but it’s also controversial. In 2 Samuel 11, David sees Bathsheba, a married woman, from the rooftop of his palace. As David peers into her home with the curtains wide open, Bathsheba is not reading her Bible, she’s bathing. Consumed with lust, David seeks her out and she ends up pregnant. David’s sin continues when he uses his power to have her husband murdered.
“One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof, he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.”
– 2 Samuel 11:2-4
Controversy arises because some scholars believe calling Bathsheba an adulterous woman is incorrect and unfair. They contend she was sought by the king and could not refuse. However, others argue she was an active participant – possibly even seducing David. The point is, we don’t know the seductive details. What we do know are the consequences for David and Bathsheba’s sin, and ironically, God wove Bathsheba into the genealogy of Jesus as the mother of Solomon.
A Woman Who Experienced Intense Loss and Bitterly Grieved
What began as sexual sin grew into murder as David hatched a plan for Bathsheba’s husband to be killed in battle. While the Bible doesn’t tell us much about Bathsheba’s marriage, it does tell us how she mourned his death. To put it in today’s terms: this was not a woman who conspired with her lover to have her husband killed.
“When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”
– 2 Samuel 11:26-27
After Uriah is killed, David brings the pregnant woman into his palace and marries her. God is not happy with David’s adultery and murderous coverup. As a result, the baby David and Bathsheba conceived dies shortly after birth.
“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
– 2 Samuel 12:13-14
David’s overwhelming grief is meticulously documented. While the Bible does not describe Bathsheba during this time of prayer, fasting, and mourning, we can certainly imagine the pain any mother would feel at the loss of her newborn. We are told, however, how David comforted his grieving wife (2 Samuel 12:24).
A Woman Who Did Not Allow Her Circumstances to Define Her
Bathsheba had every reason to act as a victim of her circumstances. She was a married woman carrying another man’s baby. She was a widow and a grief-stricken mother. She could have given up. She could have allowed others to see her as someone unclean. But, she didn’t.
Instead of allowing her humiliating and painful circumstances to define her story, Bathsheba’s story is one of redemption and restoration. She was resilient in the face of tragic circumstances.
A Woman Who Imparted Wisdom
Bathsheba’s story does not end with the birth of Solomon. The history books of the Bible articulate how Bathsheba went on to play a major role in David’s life as his wife and trusted confidant. She is involved in the rescue of David’s kingdom when a rebellious son attempts to steal the throne of Israel. She wisely navigates the political climate of the day to have David’s choice, Solomon crowned as the next king. When Solomon became king, he sought her wisdom. It was Solomon who wrote:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and
when he is old he will not depart from it.”
– Proverbs 22:6
The Queen Mother Found Her Place in the Lineage of the Messiah
Bathsheba, the beautiful woman bathing with open curtains went on to become the queen mother. This title showed her importance in society. More importantly, Bathsheba went on to be one of only five women with a place in Jesus’ genealogy.
“David was the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been Uriah’s wife”
– Matthew 1:6
Bathsheba appears along with Ruth, Tamar, Rahab, and Mary. As Jennifer Stasak for Wycliffe describes, “What an unexpected thing, for the Messiah to come from a lineage of broken people with broken stories, and ultimately be given life by a virgin girl who was favored by God.” If God can redeem that twisted soap opera, God can transform any mess in your life.
Next time you think of David and Bathsheba, remember, Bathsheba’s legacy extends far beyond their rooftop meeting.