Bathing Beauty or Bimbo?

. . . David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife . . . – Matthew 1:6 NIV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8–9

 Although she’s one of five women having the honor of being in mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy, unlike the other four, Bathsheba’s name is not given. Matthew simply refers her to as “Uriah’s wife.”

In my humble opinion, she’s worse than Tamar and Rahab. She can’t even hold a candle to Ruth, whose story is like a polished diamond in the coal mines of the Old Testament. They had what Bathsheba lacked— brains, guts and heart.

When we first encounter Bathsheba, she’s taking a bath—in an uncovered courtyard of a house in the middle of Jerusalem, where anyone standing on a nearby rooftop (they were flat in those days) could see her. Perhaps that was her intention. You see, the courtyard where she was bathing was in plain sight of the rooftop of King David’s residence. Scripture tells us Bathsheba was very beautiful.

Now King David already had seven wives, including Saul’s daughter Michal, the wife of his youth, and Abigail, the spunky, quick-witted widow of Nabal. (Read this great story in 1 Samuel 25.) Nevertheless, he summons Bathsheba, knowing both her husband and her father were members of the elite group of warriors known as “David’s mighty men.”

She could have said no. She knew the commandments as well as King David did. But she didn’t.

You know the story. David arranges for Uriah’s death in battle. As soon the seven days of mourning for her husband are up, Bathsheba marries King David. The baby conceived in adultery dies soon after birth.

Fast forward to the end of David’s life. As he lay on his deathbed, his son Adonijah plans to usurp the throne. David’s chief prophet approaches Bathsheba with a plan.

“Go in to King David and say to him, ‘Didn’t you promise me my son Solomon would be king after you? Then why has Adonijah become king?’”

She does as told. Solomon is crowned that very day (1 Kings 1:11–39). Okay, so she secured the throne for the king God had planned. But it wasn’t her idea.

The last time we see Bathsheba, she’s the queen mother. The relentless Adonijah uses her in a plot to wrest the throne from Solomon.

“Ask him to do one thing for me,” Adonijah tells her. “Give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.”

“Very well,” she says, clueless what this meant.

She should have known. Abishag was a part of David’s harem, and possession of the previous king’s harem signified the right of succession to the throne. By marrying Abishag, Adonijah would strengthen his claim to the throne. Good thing Solomon saw through the scheme.

Bathsheba possessed great physical beauty but little else. If it had been up to me, I would have chosen Abigail, who had more character, intelligence and spunk, for the honor of being an ancestor of the Messiah.

But God didn’t ask for my opinion.

Bathsheba bore David four sons, which included Solomon and Nathan. The wise and wealthy Solomon became one of Jesus’ ancestors through Joseph, his earthly father. Nathan’s line produced Mary, Jesus’ mother (Luke 3:31).

Bathsheba—bathing beauty or bimbo? Does it even matter?

What matters is that God chose her, not because of anything she did, but because of His own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9) to fulfill a promise He made to David: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

This promise was fulfilled with Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.

Bathsheba’s story is one of mercy and grace. Mercy, because she didn’t get the punishment she deserved for her adultery and her part in David’s conspiracy to murder her husband. Grace, because she received something she didn’t deserve—a place in the bloodline of Jesus Christ.

Mercy and grace—isn’t that what God’s all about?

“Thy steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, thy faithfulness to the clouds”( Psalm 36:5). Remind me of this, dear God, when I question Your love for and Your faithfulness to me. Amen.

Read and reflect on 2 Samuel 11:1–12:24.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Famines, Funerals, and Families

Hughes Merle of St. Marcellin, France - Ruth in the Fields (Note Boaz in the Background), Paris, 1876.

. . . Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. – Matthew 1:5–6 (NIV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (NIV)              

Eleven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, there lived in Bethlehem of Judea an Israelite named Elimelech. A famine struck the land, and Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and two sons, Mihlon and Kilion, to Moab, a land east of the Dead Sea where grain was abundant.

Now Moab wasn’t on Israel’s friends list. In fact, they were bitter enemies. (For the whole sordid story, read Genesis 19:30–36, and Numbers 22–25.) But Moab was where the food was, so . . .

The sons took Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. In time Elimelech died. Then Mahlon and Kilion also died. All this in the span of a decade.

There were no career paths or jobs outside the home for women at that time. No Social Security, no IRAs. Unless she was well off, a widow faced a future of poverty and had to depend on the charity of relatives. Naomi, whose name means “pleasant,” determined it was time to return home, where the famine was finally over, and where her late husband had relatives. Orpah and Ruth would accompany her.

Along the way, however, Naomi realized her daughters-in-law’s plight: As Moabite widows living in Israel, they had little, if any, chance of ever remarrying. The “kinsman-redeemer” practice of levirate marriage, in which the widow marries her dead husband’s brother to produce a son in his name so the family line doesn’t die out, wouldn’t help them. Naomi was too old to have any more sons.

“Go back home,” she urged them. There they could remarry, have children, and not face a life of poverty.

Orpah, in tears, kissed Naomi goodbye and returned to her pagan homeland. But Ruth made a surprising choice.

“Don’t urge me to leave you,” she said. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16–17 NIV).

Naomi’s faithfulness to God while living in a heathen nation had made an impact on her daughters-in-law, whether she realized it or not. But now she wondered if this was how God rewarded faithfulness.

“Could this be Naomi?” the womenfolk exclaimed when she returned to Bethlehem.

“Don’t call me Naomi,” the grieving woman said. “Call me ‘Mara’ (Mara means bitter), for the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD brought me back empty.”

You know the rest of the story. How Ruth “just happened” to glean in the fields belonging to a wealthy relative of her late father-in-law. How Boaz redeemed Elimelech’s inheritance, taking Ruth as his wife. And how Naomi’s life became full again when she bounced her new grandson, Obed, on her knee.

She didn’t know that this grandson would be an ancestor of the Promised Messiah. All she knew was that God had turned her mourning into dancing, her sorrow into joy—just like God.

According to tradition, the Field of Boaz, where Ruth gleaned after the harvesters, where Boaz first set eyes on Ruth, is the field where, eleven hundred years later, an angel appeared to shepherds and made a startling birth announcement. And the house where Boaz took Ruth to be his wife, a millennium later, was the site of a stable where a virgin from Nazareth gave birth to the Son of God.

Have you, like Naomi, cried out in the depths of grief, disappointment, and pain? “God, how could You let this happen? Haven’t I been faithful?”

Just wait. Like Naomi, God works in all things for your good (Romans 8:28). He will turn your bitter, crushing losses into joy unspeakable. He promised. And God always keeps His promises.

All you have to do is believe.

When disappointments and sorrows and trials come and linger, remind me, Dear Lord, of Your promise—that You will work ALL things for good. Amen.

Read and reflect on the Book of Ruth.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.