-Recipient of God's Mercy-

BATHSHEBA, a proselytite Israeli, was the daughter of Eliam. Her father was one of King David’s heroic officers, a brave warrior and a foreign mercenary.

Although her given name is Canaanite, and being of non-Israelite origin, she came from a God-fearing family. Ahithopel, Bathsheba’s grandfather, was a Gilonite from the hills of Judah who became King David’s Counselor and analyzed a situation, then gave advice to David who had the responsibility for making a decision. Later in his life he joined forces with David’s son Absolom to take over the throne as revenge for disgracing his granddaughter.

Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, was a high ranking weapon-bearer.  He was a Hittite mercenary, a nobleman of Hittite ancestry, in King David's army as a loyal member of David's elite warriors.  Hittites appear among the cultural groups living in urban dwellings or as individuals in Canaan interacting with the Israelites from patriarchal times.

Uriah and Bathsheba enjoyed the prosperous rewards that came with the life of a hired soldier. She had been a young virginal bride, but not newly married, as soldiers were freed from military service and duties for a year following their marriage.

A woman of unique physical beauty, Bathsheba enjoyed having fulfillment in varied tasks. She gave of herself to care for her household and servants. She followed the Laws of Moses and was expected to be a helper to her husband, to look after him. Even though a woman was to obey her husband, she was not inferior to him and equally respected. Israelite society at that time believed that a woman’s place was in the home, to find life most enjoyable as a wife and she accepted that role willingly.

She now lived in Jerusalem where David was the monarch of a major territorial unit; especially  whose position is hereditary and who rules for life.  Uniting all Israel under him, he had led the capture of Jerusalem and made it his capital. Kingship includes the position, office, and dignity of a king. David was also a figure much in the likeness of the judges with a charismatic personality.

The Israelites were at war with the Ammonites. Being a brave king who had always shown himself to be victorious in battles, every one assumed David was away with his men, but he had left the risks to his officers and rested at his palace in Jerusalem..

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. Israelites considered cleanliness not only a   physical necessity but a moral characteristic. Her bath was a ritual purification wash as under the law of Moses.

Because the woman was unusually very beautiful,  David sent someone to find out about her and summoned for her. David coveted and seduced her while her husband was off fighting. As a subject, Bathsheba had to obey the request to go to the King which resulted with the sin he committed against her. During Uriah’s absence in the wars David forced her to commit adultery which put her in a difficult situation. The penalty for both parties was death by stoning.
Bathsheba being pregnant from this incident, leaving no doubt that the child is David’s, he ordered Uriah to the heaviest fighting at the frontline of the battle. He had embarked on a course of deceit unbeknown to Bathsheba, that led finally to the heartless death of her husband Uriah. She never realized that her innocent husband’s death was a result of deliberate instructions by David. David’s lust, adultery, deceit, treachery and murder followed in quick succession.

Bathsheba had no part in the plot that followed which eventually led to the killing of her husband. She greatly mourned his death. David then took Bathsheba as his wife in the palace which emphasised the abuse of royal power that David exercised for these things were done in secrecy. Temporarily oblivious to the divine displeasure, all David’s shocking actions were punishable by death.

The king functioned as military leader and priest   It was clearly understood that the king was not exempt from observing civil laws nor was the king the absolute lord of life and death, a power David assumed in his murder of Bathsheba‘s husband.
David was a giant among godly leaders, but he remained human as his sins against both Bathsheba and Uriah showed. He spied Bathsheba bathing, desired her, and after committing adultery with her when he could cover the event no longer, engineered the murder of her faithful warrior husband, who had displayed more character and morality than did the king.

Through Nathan the prophet God confronted David with his sins, and David confessed his wrongdoing. The newborn child of David and Bathsheba died within a week of his birth. David acknowledged his helplessness in the situation, repenting sincerely.

Bathsheba conceived again and God ultimately blessed her with four other sons, two of whom are in the ancestral line of Jesus, including herself. Solomon, whose line became cursed was the line of Joseph and his brother Nathan for the line of Mary. These were born to her in Jerusalem. Being a good wife and mother was extremely important to Hebrew women.

As Queen however she became aware of political intrigue which occurred when David’s other sons vied with each other for the succession of his throne, and she was politically astute enough to get David’s promise that their son Solomon would inherit the throne.

With the help of the prophet Nathan she defeated the plot of Adonijah and another time her own grandfather with Absolom to usurp the kingdom. She was a woman of resourcefulness and energy, and retained her influence over David until his death.

Nathan the prophet and Bathsheba both worked to insure Solomon became the next king.  When David passed the power of the kingship along to his son Solomon,  Solomon esteemed his mother for what she had done. The mother of the king was an important and influential person in Judah.

The Queen Mother played a significant role in the government plus the society and enjoyed additional respect along with the authority she exercised  over other women in Solomon’s household.

Bathsheba lived a long life, and her experiences encompassed many of humanity’s circumstances, but her legacy was being the mother of the wisest king of Israel and being forgiven and restored by God.

Her sorrow for wrongdoing was genuine and God blessed her. Evidence and expression of God’s pardoning love for her is Bathsheba’s inclusion in the genealogy of Jesus. Restored to divine favour, and now virtuous and wise as well as beautiful. Another sign that God had completely forgiven her sins was the fact that her sons Nathan and Solomon were both ancestors of Jesus Christ.

A lesson learned from Bathsheba is that being assured of God’s forgiveness she did not let her one sin ruin her entire life. Repentant, she used her mistake as a guide to her future. Great was her gratitude for God’s forgiveness and His gracious mercy.

Bathsheba was an  intelligent woman and Jewish history credits her with the writings and poem of Proverbs 31and counsel to Solomon on his marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter. All the warnings against the flatteries of strange women with which Proverbs abounds can be understood from her own life.

According to this poem, the ideal wife has many talents. She knows how to cook and to sew. She never wastes her time with gossip, but spends her time in more important tasks. She has a knack for seeing what needs to be done and doing it. She has a good understanding of business, knowing how to buy and sell wisely. However, she is not selfish. She helps the needy and gives advice to those who are less wise. She also has deep reverence for God. She tries in every way to be a ‘helper fit’ for her husband. The poem ends by saying that if she does all these things, her husband will be lifted to an important place in the eyes of the community.

The virtuous woman speaks of  excellence, moral worth, ability and nobility, works not to get rich, but to give to the poor. She can be concerned for others because she has provided for her family.

The virtuous woman’s own clothing is far richer than linen or silk; she is dressed in strength and honour  –she takes care to speak well; is blessed by her family – by her children as well as her husband and Fear of the Lord.

Nothing is known about King Lemuel. Jewish history identifies him as Solomon and the advice as from Bathsheba. Her value is derived form her character of godly wisdom that is beneficial to her family and to the community as a whole. The woman of noble character, captures the ideals of wisdom that have filled the book.

The woman in Proverbs chapter 31 by Bathsheba is a symbol of wisdom.

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Updated  April 2005