Sunday, April 27, 2014

False Impressions

I was talking with my Aunt Phillis this weekend about something while we were in the car. She and my uncle were visiting from Atlanta for the weekend. Something was said about King David. I don't remember what but she told me about how everyone seemed to paint David as such a good man when in fact, he was a terrible man. He stole another man's wife. I laughed at her but the realization struck me that it was true. Not only was he an adulterer but a murderer. He arranged the death of the woman's husband. That's pretty awful when you think about. But the Bible calls him a man after God's own heart. 

I pointed out to her that not only did it seem that David was painted better than he actually was, Bathsheba, the woman he lusted after, was made to sound like a victim. Go back and read the story. There isn't much said about her but when I read it I feel like she was taken advantage of. The truth is she was a participant. 

I hear some of you now saying, "She had no choice! He was the King!" 

Hogwash. She could have said no. She could actually have gone to the elders and complained or to the priest. She could have raised a huge stink. There were things she could have done to draw a lot of attention. There were people who would have been thrilled to publish the news. But when summoned, she went, took off her clothes, and had sex with the King. She went home, continued to bathe on her exposed rooftop, and when she became pregnant, she moseyed over and told David. Do not tell me she didn't know she could be seen by anyone in the palace. She lived close enough to the palace that she knew exactly which windows the king spent time looking out. When her husband came home, to be set up as the illegitimate child's father, she kept her mouth shut. She never cried rape, a heinous crime punishable by death. So was murder.

I don't believe she was afraid of the king. I think she saw an opportunity and she took it. I believe this because when it came time for David to step down, due to his health, she pranced into the King's quarters, where his current concubine lay in the bed with him, and told him that one of his son's was trying to usurp the crown and David had promised her that "her son" would be the next King of Israel. David promptly crowned Solomon. No arguments from him.

Tell me she didn't have that in mind all along. Hogwash. She was an adulteress and a liar and a co-conspirator in the death of her first husband. She was not nice. She was not a victim. But do you ever get that opinion of her from anyone teaching on this story? No.

So, why is it that David is a man after God's own heart? My aunt and I agreed that the reason was because he recognized when he had sinned. He sincerely repented and actively attempted to right his wrongs. He accepted his punishment without flinching. And he was punished several times. When it was all said and done, he kept God sovereign and accepted whatever came at the hands of God, even if it harmed him. And because of those traits, God favored him. Not because of the wicked things he did, but because of the sincerity of David's repentance.

I don't really know why David and Bathsheba are painted they way they seem to be in all the Sunday School lessons and sermons I've ever heard. That impression of them is completely false. I am interested in why, just now, I see them in a whole new light. They weren't a good man making a single mistake or a woman victimized by a king. Their actions were inexcusable. They were overtaken in not one fault but several. As a result a man died and a child died and events that followed were irrevocably altered. Had they not done what they did, Solomon would never have been born and Israel would have taken a completely different path. Not one life changed, but a whole nation. 


  1. I can't stand David after I learned what his life was really like. I guess, though, I should be glad that a man like that is after God's own heart. It gives everyone hope, doesn't it?

    I never thought of Bathsheba as anything other than a victim. If she's like that, then the story is even worse. I think of what Nathan said about her and I guess that's why I have always been under the impression that she is a victim.

    The only victim seems to be Uriah.

    1. David is one of my favorites. He is as human as it gets and still God didn't give up on him. He was fallible but he kept going and kept struggling to get it right. He always acknowledged his failures and he didn't shirk his responsibilities. Can I say the same? No. Can anyone? Doubtful.

      I think Nathan's story was designed to force David to recognize the enormity of his sin. He appealed to David's sense of justice, even allowing him to chose how to deal with the offender. I doubt Nathan thought she was a victim. Adultery was totally unacceptable in this society. She could have been put to death and so could he. And I simply can't believe she didn't know she could be seen on that room from any building higher than her own. No, I think she knew he was watching. Maybe initially she was just flattered and played to it. But let's face it, he'd probably been watching for awhile. I'm betting servants watched her, too. Public nudity was also a serious offense but hey, "I'm in my own home, on my own roof. They shouldn't be watching me."

      And yes, the only victims were Uriah, a loyal servant, and a child that resulted from the union. But think of the long term effects of their actions... how many more victims as a result.