Friday, 26 December 2014

Wishing: to see the glory of God

This woman in the ancestry of Jesus is not even named. Bathsheba, 'Uriah's wife'. Mother of Solomon, through an adulterous affair with David.

Bathsheba. So many questions.

Was she innocent, unaware she could be overlooked as she took a bath?
Compliant, unwilling to offend the king by refusing to come to him?
Protective, bizarrely, of her husband Uriah, afraid that she might be putting him in even more danger by refusing?

Or was she scheming and ambitious, hoping to secure the king's favour?
Bored by marriage to a good and faithful man?
Simply vain, aware that her beauty attracted attention, craving adulation, feeding her vanity by bathing where she could be seen from the king's palace?

Her father, Eliam, was one of David's mighty men. Did she consider that she merited special treatment because of this? That her rightful place was in the palace?

And then she was pregnant. Unable to assign parentage to her husband, she tells David that he is the father.

So how did she feel the morning after, knowing she had committed adultery - the penalty for which was death by stoning? How did she feel when David arranged for her husband Uriah to come home from serving his country to sleep with her, so their adultery could be covered up? And then, when that failed, David had Uriah put in a position where he was certain to die?

We know that she was careful to observe the outward rites and rituals, in 'purifying' herself of her uncleanness that same day.
We know that she mourned her husband.
We know that she then became David's wife as soon as the mourning period was over. She gave birth to a son, who later died.
We know that David still stood by her, was still in love with her, because when he comforted her, she then had another son. Solomon, which means 'peace'.
We know that she had three other sons, one of whom was called Nathan. Named, perhaps, after the prophet who confronted David with his sin?
We know that, later, she manipulated and schemed to ensure that her son Solomon inherited the throne, despite the claim of other sons. She was cunning enough that, when Adonijah came to her to ask for his father David's concubine - tantamount to announcing that he would take his father's place - she pretended to acquiesce to his request. As soon as Solomon heard it, Adonijah's fate was sealed and he was killed. One more building block in providing a secure foundation for Solomon's kingship.

I don't like Bathsheba.
Yet...she is one of Jesus' ancestors and this was in God's will. The Lord had named Solomon 'Jedidiah' which means 'loved by the Lord'. The Lord had sent Nathan the prophet to tell Bathsheba that Solomon's elder brother Adonijah had styled himself as king, enabling her to put a stop to it.

Matthew Henry comments: "Giving way to sin hardens the heart, and provokes the departure of the Holy Spirit. Robbing a man of his reason, is worse than robbing him of his money; and drawing him into sin, is worse than drawing him into any wordly trouble whatever."

I see Bathsheba as a selfish, sinful woman who was nevertheless used by God for the purposes of His kingdom.

How am I any different? Am I willing to be used by God, in spite of my own selfishness and sinfulness?

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