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July 3, 2017

*Good Monday morning. Sorry, I didn't get to share a post on Friday. It was a very busy day from morning until evening. We have spent some time looking at the fall of King Saul and the rise of King David. Everything is going well for David. His numbers in the popularity polls are skyrocketing. All is well...kind of...

"In the Spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained 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. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite? Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, 'I am pregnant.'" (II Samuel 11:1-5)

We have a lot of ground to cover with this story, so let's start with the above passage. From the beginning of the chapter we can tell that the author is setting up for something to happen. David would have normally been where? Yes, with the army while they were doing battle. David is now viewed as being complacent. He is home in his chambers taking it easy. Now, if you remember when David fought Goliath he chose five smooth stones. There was one stone for Goliath and four left over. This may have been significant because Goliath had four brothers that would eventually face David. But, while David excelled in his military exploits, he failed in what may have been his greatest test.

 

David looks out and sees the bathing beauty Bathsheba taking a bath. Now, the temptation here is to say, "Now this woman should not have been taking a bath out in the open for someone to see her." (many actually make this argument.) Keep in mind that the scripture in no way, shape or form portrays Bathsheba in a negative light. Bathsheba is most likely taking her bath where? In the same place she has taken her bath for however long she has taken baths. She is in her normal place. She isn't doing anything wrong. David is the one who is not where he normally is. David sees her and does what? Well, the first thing he does is, he wants her. Even after he receives info on her, he still wants her. David sends for her, even knowing who she is and in spite of that has sex with her.

 

Many have argued that Bathsheba didn't resist therefore she is just as much at fault. This is the same group that would argue that any woman bathing in the open is asking for it. Both thoughts are wrong. *This is a sore subject for me, but I'll try to behave myself. *I have to also admit, that because of this story in the Bible, I don't like David that much. (That's my confession) First of all, the culture in the time of this event was a much different culture than ours. Even during the days of Jesus the culture was an open culture. This simply meant that things were done more in the open. A woman bathing in the open is not the issue here. Now, it would be for us, but not so much for these folks. The issue was David wanted her for himself. Now, as far as her not resisting David, keep one thing in mind: He was the KING! Who says "No" to the King? Who was she, especially, to say "No" to the king? Do we all of a sudden give a woman, who had no say, the power to say "No" to the king? No, by all means, No! She was powerless and David had all the power. The power has gotten to David. Now the story gets even more complicated.

 

Bathsheba announces that she is pregnant. Uh Oh! Call in Jerry Springer! Keep in mind that David is already married. Now, that means nothing in the Old Testament. Men married several wives in the Old Testament, and at once! Having another woman pregnant is not a problem for David. Having another woman who is married to another man is, however. And, this was not just any man that Bathsheba was married to. He was also a member of David's elite army. And, guess what Uriah's (the husband) name means? It means "Yahweh is my light." David, you've got a problem! No Worries! David comes up with a plan that will "cover up" (I'm chuckling to myself) everything.

"So David sent word to Joab: 'Send me to Uriah the Hittite.' And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, 'Go down to your house and wash your feet." (II Samuel 11: 6-8a)

O.K., I hope you remember a while back when we studied the Book of Ruth that we talked about how euphemisms are often used in the Bible. It's when one word or term means something else. Now, in the discussion David has with Uriah we should know from the start that David is, what a friend of mine used to say, "shooting the breeze." He asks, 'How's Joab?" when David has just spoken with Joab. Then, David tells Uriah to "go home and wash your feet." Was David implying that Uriah's feet were dirty? Were Uriah's feet any dirtier than the other soldiers? Well, surely you know by now that David wasn't telling Uriah to go and take a bath. (Bathing is what started this whole mess to begin with.) No! David was telling Uriah to go home and have sex with his wife. Then, when she announces to Uriah that she's pregnant, he will assume he's the daddy. Perfect plan! Right? Well, Uriah has to go and prove himself to be loyal and pious. Uriah says: "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife?" ( II Samuel 11:11)

Well, now what? Wow! Uriah is now proving more loyal and pious than David. Well, David decides that there's got to be a way to get Uriah to sleep with his wife. Oh yes! "I know!" David thinks to himself, "Alcohol!" You know, that drink in the Bible that isn't really alcohol. (according to some that argue that what Jesus turned the water into wasn't really wine) David gets Uriah drunk. That'll do it! Problem solved! Right? Even when he is drunk Uriah refuses to go to his wife. Isn't this ironic? David took one look at her and lusted after her and couldn't do without her, but her own husband is able to say "No!" Even when he is drunk! 

 

The David that we read about in this chapter is clearly not the David that we have been reading about. David's problem began with a simple look at Bathsheba. His look led to far more. David is now a man who is not in control of his desire. Now, he is portrayed as a schemer. When one plan doesn't work, try another. If all else fails...

"In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, 'Put Uriah in the front lone where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.'" (II Samuel 11:14-15)

Poor Uriah! He is faithful to the end. He unknowingly carries his own death sentence to Joab. And, he didn't even get a congenial visit with his wife. Well, he could have. Who ever would have dreamed that sex with your wife could save your life? Yep, that would have kept Uriah alive. David has stooped so low that he not only puts Uriah on the line, he orders that everyone abandon him. Think about that! David is asking the fellow soldiers to abandon this man, and betray him. A man who has shown loyalty to each and every one of them. Why? To cover up David's sin.

 

Uriah dies in battle, or the massacre that awaited him. David receives the news and acts all pious. Bathsheba mourns the loss of her husband. But, once the morning is over David swoops in and saves the day by marrying Bathsheba. (A Kingly act of caring?) And, she has a baby. Oh, and it's David's baby! Everything worked out just fine...and they all lived happily ever after...well, maybe they would have, except for one problem..."the thing David had done displeased the Lord." (II Samuel 11: 27b)

 

So, who sinned more, David or Saul? Whose sins were worse? I would argue that David was much worse than Saul at this point. Will David lose his kingdom like Saul lost his? No! Why? Because God promised that David's kingdom would not end. David just seems to get by with everything...seems that way...but, no. Join me tomorrow (yes, I will post on the 4th of July).Oh, the title of this post is from a sermon that I preached on this matter. I was talking about David looking at Bathsheba and instead of turning his head he ordered, "get my binoculars!" At that time a little boy in the congregation yelled out, "Get mine too!"  -Pastor Rick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Madison United Methodist Church is affiliated with the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To learn more about WVAC, please visit www.wvumc.org. 

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