Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A child is born 19: Bathsheba bears children by David

The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant”.

David had become king over Israel, and like many kings, thought that meant he could have anything he wanted, including, in this case, the wife of another man, Uriah, whom he had seen bathing when she thought she was unobserved. She became pregnant by David. This was highly inconvenient since Uriah was one of David’s commanders, and was away leading David’s troops in battle. David brought Uriah home and tried to induce him to sleep with Bathsheba, so the child could be passed off as his. When that failed he had Uriah put in the frontline of the battle, hoping he would be killed, which he soon was. David then married Bathsheba. We don’t know what she felt about all this. The only words we have of hers are the fateful message she sent to David “I am pregnant.”

Nathan, the prophet, came to David and challenged him with a story about a rich man who stole the one ewe lamb of a poor neighbour to feed a guest instead of taking one of his own, large flock (David had many wives and concubines by this stage.) When David expressed his horror at this story, Nathan told him that “you are the man”, and denounced his treatment of Uriah (he doesn’t mention his treatment of Bathsheba!) The punishment for this would be that Bathsheba’s child would die. Despite David repenting and fasting, the child died a week later.
David and Bathsheba mourned, and in time, they had another son, Solomon, who went on to succeed David to the throne, and whose wisdom was legendary. It is a sad, sordid story; there were no winners. Traditionally Psalm 51 is attributed to David, a psalm of lament and repentance for his actions.

·         Bathsheba’s voice is never heard in the story. What do you think she thought and felt as it unfolded?

·         The Biblical writers interpreted the death of Bathsheba’s first child as a punishment on David. What do you think of this?

·         Pray for children conceived in circumstances where their birth is viewed as shameful by the society around them. 

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