Bathsheba had grown up admiring the handsome, charismatic king David. It had been an exhilarating time in Israel’s history, and her dad Eliam, one of David’s might men, had been all wrapped up in the thick of it, close with David ever since the young shepherd had been on the lam, running from King Saul. Her grandfather, the godly and spiritual Ahithophel, was one of David’s most trusted advisors, whose godly wisdom was deeply valued.
What must that have been like for those young families, living in tents, the air crackling with anticipation, watching the mighty men as they gathered around in their recon missions, talking through their strategies. Year after year these battle-hardened men went to war, consolidating the Promised Land into the nation of God, ridding the land of Canaanite people groups, and always pushing the Philistines back.
It’s no surprise that, as this young beauty reached maturity, Bathsheba’s father would marry her to another one of the mighty men, David’s close friend and a member of his royal guard. His name was Uriah the Hittite. Most likely he had converted to Judaism, and had certainly shown great loyalty to David, and to Israel.
There is not doubt Bathsheba was able to enjoy being with her husband the first year they married, for God had instructed all Israel that
If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.Deuteronomy 24:5 (NRSV)
But when the following spring came, that all changed. King David sent his army—including Uriah—with General Joab, off to war, while the king stayed home.
So the story begins.
Was Bathsheba a seductress? Was she innocent? Was this an affair or a rape? Or neither, since the mores of that time were different than our own today? And what did God think of all this–the man identified as one after God’s own heart, and the woman identified as a little lamb?
[Bathsheba mourning the death of her husband, Uriah | The Jewish Museum, James Tissot/ Public Domain