Lesson 24: “Create in me a clean heart.” #BCCSundaySchool2018

This lesson has two parts: (1) The story of David’s rape of /adultery with Bathsheba, his murder of Uriah to cover it up, and his discovery by the prophet Nathan, and (2) Psalm 51, which tradition says is David’s repentant response to the episode.

David’s Sins

The story starts in 2 Samuel 11 by noting that “at the time when kings go forth to battle,” David “tarried at Jerusalem.” I’ve heard some people use this to say that the reason David sinned with/against Bathsheba is because he wasn’t out waging war like he should have been. I call BS. That interpretation subtly suggests that the only options available to men are sex or violence. I guess you could extrapolate some broader principle that staying busy doing our duties can help keep us from temptation, but the focus is David’s fall from grace, not necessarily what caused it.

And in fact, as we’ll see when we get to Psalm 51, focusing on avoiding sin, rather than on repenting from it, is kind of a mistake here because the whole point of these passages is that we are all like David: we all sin, and we all need to rely desperately on God alone for redemption. But more on that later.

So David’s walking on his roof, sees Bathsheba washing herself, and sends for her. I’ve heard people say that this is proof that Bathsheba was being immodest by bathing where David could see her. Again, I call BS. First, the text says she was “washing herself;” it doesn’t say she was bathing, and it doesn’t say she was undressed. The text doesn’t say that David lusted after her because she was naked or half-naked, or immodestly dressed. It simply says that she was “very beautiful to look upon,” and that’s as true of a modestly dressed beautiful women as it is of a less modestly dressed women. (In fact, if “modest is hottest,” and women are supposed to avoid tempting men with their “hotness,” isn’t it actually sinful to dress modestly?) For all we know, Bathsheba was fully clothed and was innocently washing her face and hands. Again, the focus of this story is not on Bathsheba’s fault, it is on David’s fall from grace.

Given the way David is portrayed as a powerful king, and the relatively low status of women in general in the Old Testament in general, it’s really problematic to see Bathsheba as the guilty party, or even as a willing participant in adultery. The text tells us that David sent messengers “and took her.” If anything, that suggests that she may have been taken against her will. Even if she wasn’t forcibly taken to David and raped by him, did she have any realistic choice to refuse? Maybe, but not one that wouldn’t carry with it a significant risk of death for defying the will of the king. Lessons condemning Bathsheba as the temptress and instigator of David’s fall come dangerously close, in my opinion, to victim-blaming, telling rape victims that it’s better to be killed than raped. Again, this story is not about Bathsheba’s fall; it’s about David’s fall. And later, when Nathan exposes David, Nathan blames nobody but David for that fall.

So then she comes to David, and “he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness.” This has to be one of the most morally perverted passages in all of scripture. David scrupulously follows the Mosaic law’s regulations about sex with a menstruating woman, but openly violates much more serious moral obligations. It’s like praising a modern day Mormon for not having a cigarette in bed after committing adultery.

So it turns out later that Bathsheba is pregnant, and she tells David. So to hide his sin, David sends for Bathsheba’s husband Uriah so he will have sex with her and it will look to everyone like the child is Uriah’s. But Uriah refuses, out of a sense of solidarity with his fellow-soldiers, to sleep in his house with his wife. So David sends Uriah back and has Uriah sent to the most dangerous part of the battle, and has the other troops retreat, leaving him to die.

Bathsheba mourns for her husband. Notice that there’s nothing at all in the text to suggest that the mourning was feigned or insincere. That might be another indication that Bathsheba was not a willing participant. But when she’s finished mourning, David “sent and fetched her to his house” and makes her his wife.

Nathan’s Visit

The prophet Nathan comes to David and tells him the parable of the ewe lamb: a rich man has many sheep, a poor man has just one little lamb that he raised as a pet and loved as one of his own children, and the rich man steals, kills, and roasts the poor man’s ewe to serve to a visitor. David is angry and swears vengeance on the rich man. Nathan’s response: “Thou art the man.”

The parable is pretty cringeworthy with the way it compares Bathsheba to a an animal, a possession of Uriah, and the way it puts the focus of David’s sin not on what he did to Bathsheba, but on the harm he did to Uriah, by stealing his property. But though it is uncomfortable, the parable is effective.

Nathan then curses David that the Lord would “raise up evil against [David] out of [his] own house,” that he would take David’s wives away from him and give them to another who would have sex with them publicly, and that Bathsheba’s child would die. The child does die, and David and Bathsheba have another son, Solomon.

Psalm 51

Here’s my paraphrase of Psalm 51, David’s literary repentance.

Have mercy on me, oh God, because of your lovingkindness.
Exercise your abundance of tender mercy and erase my sin.
Bathe me and wash my sin from me; cleanse me of my sin.

I have sinned against you and you alone; I have done evil against you.
You are right when you speak; your judgments are justified.
I was formed in wickedness, I was conceived in sin.
But you demand truth even in the womb; and even before my birth you taught me wisdom.

Purify me with fresh herbs, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be as pure as new snow.
Let my ears her joy again; let my broken bones rejoice.
Don’t look at my sins; erase my misdeeds.
Create in me a clean heart, oh God; make a new spirit inside of me.
Don’t banish me from your presence; don’t take your holy spirit from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation; uphold me freely with your spirit.

Then I will teach sinners of your ways; they will be converted to you.
Save me from bloodguilt, oh God, oh God of my salvation; and my tongue will sing out loud of your righteousness.
Oh, Lord, open my lips; fill my mouth your praise.

You don’t want sacrifice (if you did, I’d give it); you don’t delight in burnt offerings.
The only sacrifice that pleases you is a broken heart; a broken heart and humble spirit, oh God, you will not despise.
Exercise your pleasure and do good things for Zion; build the walls of Jersalem.
Then the righteous sacrifice will please you, with burnt offerings and bulls on your altar.

There are few interesting things about this Psalm and what it teaches about repentance:

First, notice how in David’s Psalm God is the actor, and David is the object that is acted upon. The only sentence in the entire Psalm that puts David as the actor is “I will teach sinners of your ways” and even that is in the context of David asking God to open his lips and fill his mouth with the words to say to the sinners. We like to talk about repentance as though it is all in our power. We make lists of steps of repentance, and we give the impression that as soon as you complete the steps, you’ve purged your sin and you’re good to go.

But what David understood is that following lists and rules does nothing for us by itself. The only thing that can forgive sin and cleanse from it is God’s mercy and grace. We repent not because repenting actually cleanses us; we repent because God gives his grace to the repentant. We still depend entirely on him for redemption.

  • How does David’s embrace of his helplessness and total reliance on God compare with Lehi’s admonition that there are “things to act and things to be acted upon”?

David’s getting at something similar when he talks about God not caring for the obedience to the laws of animal sacrifice, but caring for the sacrifice of a broken heart. David understood that a human being cannot remake his heart through force of will; the only way to receive a redeemed heart is to break the old unredeemed heart and have God create a new heart through an act of grace. To say that God doesn’t want sacrifice is really kind of a radical thing to say in the context of the old testament. I can imagine that it might have been really offensive to some of the priests. But he seems to be describing a sort of progression. First he says that God doesn’t want sacrifice, then he says that the true sacrifice that God wants is a sacrifice of a broken heart, and then he goes on to say that then God will be pleased with sacrifices. God cares nothing for empty obedience. Once we become converted through an act of grace, only then can we offer the kind of obedience that is pleasing to God.

  • What are our modern “sacrifices”–things we do out of a sense of obedience, but that can become excuses for not giving the true sacrifice of a broken heart?
  • How does this compare with Moroni’s teaching that a man “being evil [i.e. unconverted] cannot offer a good gift” because even if he does so outwardly, it is “not counted as righteousness.”

Notice what David asks God not to take from him: God’s presence and the Holy Spirit.

  • What do we symbolically receive in the ordinances of confirmation, the sacrament, and the endowment?
  • How do these ordinances relate to repentance? What can that teach us about the relationship between repentance and God’s presence and spirit?

Why does David say that he has sinned against God only? This isn’t true, is it? He’s certainly sinned against Uriah, and almost certainly against Bathsheba as well. Why does he say that he has sinned against God only? Is he perhaps saying that by sinning against his fellow-creatures, made in God’s image, he was sinning against God himself?

Notice what David says about his own sinful nature: he was formed in iniquity and conceived in sin.

  • Is David embracing original sin? Why or why not?
  • How can we reconcile David’s statement that he was conceived in sin with our belief that children are not accountable for their actions?
  • How does this compare with other scriptures that talk about human nature and conceived in sin, or evil, like Ether 3:2, or Moses 6:53-55.
  • Does this relate to the way David portrays himself as helpless and pleads with God to “act upon” him to save him rather than portraying himself as affirmatively acting to secure his salvation?

It seems maybe a little out of place in a poem all about sin and repentance and grace to suddenly shift and start talking about teaching sinners of God’s ways and converting them to God.

  • How does our own individual salvation relate to testifying of God’s goodness to other sinners?
  • Should we perhaps focus more on experiencing conversion than on techniques and skills when we prepare young men and women to serve missions?
  • When David describes God opening his lips and filling his mouth, he talks about God filling his mouth with “praise.” When we talk about missionary work today, we usually speak of sharing our “testimony,” rather than of praise. Does it change the way you think of testimony and missionary work to think of it as “praise”? How might we do missionary work differently if we think of the message as one of praise?

Side Note: Did David lose his exaltation?

The polygamy revelation, now canonized as section 132, says that David “hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit [his plural wives] out of the world.” The traditional reading of this verse is that David will not be exalted in the celestial kingdom. That’s consistent with verse 26 of the same revelation, which says that those that are sealed by the sealing power of the priesthood will “enter into their exaltation,” no matter what sins they commit, unless they commit murder and “shed innocent blood.” But I’m not sure we can be that specific about David’s salvation.

“Exaltation” is a term of art today, but I’m not sure it necessarily had the same fixed meaning at the time of the polygamy revelation. In context, the statement about David seems to be more focused on whether his marriage relationship with his wives will survive death than with the final state of his soul. If we take this to mean that David has been expelled from “this order of the priesthood,” that is “the new and everlasting covenant,” as referred to in section 131, then the logical conclusion is that David cannot enter into the highest of the three degrees within the “celestial glory.”

But that conclusion isn’t necessarily fixed. One way of reading section 132’s perseverance verses is that the unconditional promise of salvation is lost when a person sheds innocent blood, but that it does not necessarily follow that the person cannot repent and be forgiven. Section 137, at least, stands for the principle that despite the fact that the saints try to forge the celestial kingdom while still on earth by creating and sanctifying the relationships that will constitute heaven, we can’t foresee exactly what heaven will be like, and even those that we thought may have been lost while on earth may yet surprise us by showing up in the celestial kingdom.

(We should remember that “this order of priesthood” has undergone a change in interpretation. It used to mean polygamous marriage. Now it simply means temple marriage.)

I like to hold out hope for David. Why does it matter? To me it matters because it seems like a mistake to teach an entire lesson about what David’s Psalms can teach up about repentance only to conclude by saying that the things he was guilty of are beyond the reach of repentance. I don’t know how God will judge, and in fact, that’s one of the things Jesus specifically tells us not to speculate on, but I’m not willing to entirely give up on David.

Conclusion

I think we undervalue the psalms. That’s a mistake. Jesus loved the psalms, and quoted from them regularly. They have a lot to teach us, and the psalms of David especially have a lot to teach us about repentance. This lesson is a chance to really get into at least one of them. Everyone knows the story of Bathsheba, and while it’s a valuable story, if I were teaching this lesson, I’d be tempted to spend most of the time on the psalm and only briefly review the story.

 

 

Comments

  1. We can’t not teach the story of Bathsheba because we have years of correcting all the really problematic misinterpretations that are still, this day, promoted in the lesson. We have to call this rape. Not adultry/rape. Rape. And then say that in trying to soften the story for whatever reason, we turn it into a modesty lesson for women? That’s just plain wrong in every sense and not born by the scriptures or our beliefs today.

    And I somehow missed the part of Nathan THE PROPHET using public sex with his wives as currency for David’s punishment? People, if this is not an example of how even prophets were sexist and thus there is no problem with calling this story sexist and wrong, than I don’t know what is.

  2. Since Bathsheba got pregnant right after he saw her bathing, I think we can conclude that she was doing the mikvah, or ritual cleansing, which Israelite women were supposed to do every month after menstruation. So I don’t think that she was just washing her hands. But it’s likely that she was at the women’s ritual bath house. Why was David looking over there in the first place?

    Thank you for naming this rape. This story does need to be told properly.

  3. Is it possible the “washing” she is doing when seen is related to the later verse that tells us “for she was purified from her uncleanliness”? In other words, she may have been washing to purify herself — doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing.

    Another thought is that, in using a lamb — symbol of innocence — to represent Bathsheba, Nathan reinforces Bathsheba’s blamelessness.

  4. Angela C says:

    No need to be missish about men owning women in this story. In the Old Testament, it’s the water we are swimming in.

    Great recap. I hope our Gospel Doctrine teacher reads it.

  5. EmJen, you’re absolutely right.

    Autumn, it is possible that the “washing” was a mikvah, but would that have been in a place visible from a roof? I thought mikvahs were normally indoors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they were at that time.

    The verse about being “purified from her uncleanness” could suggest that it was a mikvah, but it’s still speculation, I think.

    Maybe somebody with knowledge of Hebrew can tell us what word is used for “washing” and whether that offers any insight.

    In any case, I think it’s clear that the text places absolutely no blame on Bathsheba at all. Maybe that’s because the writers actually saw her as innocent, but more likely, I think, it’s because they saw her as a thing to be acted upon, and not as an agent herself. But whatever the reason, I think, as EmJen says, trying to blame her and turn it into a modesty lesson is totally unscriptural.

  6. Ryan Mullen says:

    JKC, I appreciate your pushback on “David wasn’t where he was supposed to be” and “Bathsheba was a temptress.” Neither statement is warranted, taking the text on its own merits.

    As I read the text, it unfortunately doesn’t give us any insight into Bathsheba’s thoughts or feelings regarding David’s actions. Modern issues of consent, it appears, were not a concern of the ancient authors who present this account. As a result, Bathsheba seems to be something of a Rorschach test. Our interpretation of her internal mental and emotional state says more about us than it does about her.

    At Ben Spackman’s recommendation, I picked up Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes. It discusses David and Uriah’s conflict in the context of an honor / shame culture. Wow. If you sense that the modern interpretations of this story you’ve heard are missing something, you would love this book.

  7. Good points, Laurel. And I guess we should point out that being compared to a lamb, she is in good company as Isaiah uses the same simile in passages which we Christians have interpreted to be a reference to Jesus, and which John refers to in the New Testament when he names Jesus the Lamb of God.

  8. Kristine says:

    The author of Samuel is at pains to construct a justification for David’s right to kingship and reinforce the legend of his greatness. If there were any possible way to blame Bathsheba, he would have done it. EmJen is right. Lose “adultery/rape.”

    Further reading: https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/145462.pdf

  9. Kristine says:

    “As I read the text, it unfortunately doesn’t give us any insight into Bathsheba’s thoughts or feelings regarding David’s actions.”

    It does, actually (more in the aftermath, when Uriah is sent to be killed), but it doesn’t need to: we know what kingship meant in the culture of ancient Israel. She does not have a choice.

  10. According to biblehub.com, the verb used here is rachats, and it is used in the context of both bathing and ritualistic washing. No help there.

  11. I think a case can be made that washings would have been performed in the inner courtyard area of a residence (for those wealthy enough to not live in a shack), which would be surrounded by walls, but uncovered by a roof.

  12. I’ll just add my voice in support of calling what happened with David and Bathsheba “rape.” Resisting the urge to fault her is not only a good reading of the text, but it’s crucial to our own cultural moment.

  13. Ryan Mullen says:

    “It does, actually (more in the aftermath, when Uriah is sent to be killed)” Are you referring to Bathsheba observing the required period of mourning? I couldn’t decide if the authors were describing her emotional response or simply reporting her actions. It would seem out of character for them to do the former, given their portrayal of Bathsheba throughout the rest of the account.

    “She does not have a choice.” I agree. The authors of 2 Samuel 11-12 repeatedly treat Bathsheba as property, first of Uriah and then of David. She is nowhere in the text treated as an empowered agent in her own right.

  14. The message that all this wouldn’t have happened if David was where he was supposed to be doing what he was supposed to be doing is still a reasonable moral to this story. At least in those days, if a king ordered his men to war and he was physically capable, he was expected to be there (contrary to the OP, I don’t think that suggests men only do sex or violence).

    It’s hard, if it’s gospel doctrine 101, to see what’s so great about the atonement if it allows a rapist/murderer to escape punishment — unless one already empathizes with a rapist/murderer. I realize that’s where the OP wants you to go, but you’ve got to have a fairly well-developed understanding of your own sins and just how awful they are before you can appreciate that angle. That might even be why the D&C stuff is so worded — to allow for the interpretation that David’s fall from grace isn’t entirely recoverable — because Joseph and co. couldn’t quite conceive it otherwise.

  15. David Day says:

    One of my favorite resources on this is the Great Courses on the Old Testament. The author is AJ Levine. She does a good job of pointing out that the story, and primarily Bathsheba’s role, raises more questions than answers. We know basically nothing of her motivations. It’s most vivid when Bathsheba sends word to David that she is pregnant. Levine’s question is what does Bathsheba want David to do? There’s no hint at that in the story.

  16. David Day – What does Bathsheba want David to do? How about protect her from being stoned for adultery. Everyone knew her husband was away at battle; hence, the weirdness that ensues between David and Uriah.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Yes, it’s not a slam dunk, but I personally understand the bathing in v.2 as ritual in nature with the CEV “bathing as her religion required.” To me the parenthetical note in verse 4b makes this clear. And if in fact it was a mikvah, being on a roof would make some sense. The water has to be stationary but from a.natural source (IE you can’t do it in a river, which is natural but not stationary). A rain catchment system on a roof would probably be the easiest way to collect the natural source of water needed. And if this reading is correct, it just makes David’s actions the more abominable, as she was following the requirements of the law of God and certainly not trying to sexually entice anyone.

  18. Kevin, Is there anything in the text to suggest that Bathsheba was on the roof? Some have argued that David was the only one on the roof and that the ritual bathing sites were generally on the ground. Whoever wrote Wikipedia’s article on mikveh suggests a number of possibilities for appropriate water and mikvehs excavated rather than on roofs. Some who have tried to blame Bathsheba have used the supposed roof-top bathing as evidence of her supposed intent to entice, but in the few modern languages I can deal with, there is nothing to suggest that Bathsheba was on a roof.

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    The only thing that suggests a rooftop to me is that she was visible to David, so a mikvah in, say, a cave (another possible option) wouldn’t fit the story.

  20. Melanie Henderson says:

    Just adding that the mention of her “uncleanness” (& the ritual bathing after menstruation) served two purposes: (1) to show that she was indeed where she was supposed to be & doing what she was supposed to be doing, and (2) perhaps MOST importantly, to show that she was NOT already pregnant, so David’s paternity was certain.

  21. Jack of Hearts says:

    This is such an excellent lesson outline, JKC. Thank you so much. I desperately wish I were teaching this lesson in my ward, but sadly it’s not my turn that week.

  22. Ryan Mullen says:

    From the OP “Why does David say that he has sinned against God only? This isn’t true, is it? He’s certainly sinned against Uriah, and almost certainly against Bathsheba as well. Why does he say that he has sinned against God only? Is he perhaps saying that by sinning against his fellow-creatures, made in God’s image, he was sinning against God himself?”

    From Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: “David’s words of repentance might trouble you a bit. First, David says he sinned only against God. Well, it seems to us David sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab and certainly the Israelite soldiers who were killed just because they were nearby. In fact, it seems there are plenty of people against whom David has sinned. Second, David confesses his sin as ‘from birth’. We were thinking more like one moonlit night on a palace stroll. In David’s day, kings had the right to do the things David did. Kings (and governments today) take property from citizens. They send soldiers to war, where some die. David was within his cultural rights. He broke no laws. Well, he did break one: ‘Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife’ (Ex 20:17 KJV). David had transgressed God’s laws, not his country’s. Thus, when he says, ‘against you, you only, have I sinned,’ David is admitting that he is accountable not only to the expectations for a king but that he is also accountable to God.”

  23. Very thought provoking. Thank you. (And I *am* teaching from this section on Sunday.)

    In addition, I really appreciate the link Kristine added above:
    https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/145462.pdf

    There are some to-my-way-of-thinking-important language issues here. Using “rape” is one. Another is the sometimes confusing idiomatic English that “implies some complicity on the woman’s part when there is none” (from the linked article). Apparently in the Greek, and I suppose other languages, lust and adultery can take direct objects. So a man “lusts” (or “covets”) a woman; cf “lust for power” or “lust for gold.” A man “adulterates” a woman. It’s a little off-putting to treat a woman as an object, but when talking about rape and adultery, about taking and summoning and marrying in the dynastic sense, it seems to me the right way to put the responsibility and blame all on the man.

    This is a horrendous story. Softening the story can take the tack of making Bathsheba responsible, and that should be avoided. Softening can end up with an “avoid temptation” lesson, which I have heard, which the study guide suggests, and which seems the wrong way to take this material in several ways (adding some punctuation–really wrong!!) On the other hand, softening just a little may be necessary to bring the audience into the picture, as in “most of you are not contemplating rape or murder, but imagine something that feels to you unforgivable” and off we go.

  24. Regarding the “sin against God only” (Ryan Mullen, and others), this is where I plan/hope to take the discussion.

    For light reading and easy conversation we (culturally) like to talk about ‘victimless’ sin–the cup of coffee (a separate thread here at BCC), pornography, cursing. (And then draw out that there are victims and consequences–yes, I know how the lesson goes.) For discussion purposes we usually avoid the sins where someone is truly, actually, in real time, in identifiable ways, hurt or damaged or killed. But the latter is also part of our existence and this lesson is rich ground for the discussion. Does repentance fix the harm? Does the atonement fix the harm? Is fixing the harm necessary? Bathsheba mourned Uriah–isn’t that a lifetime of damage? At least a to-the-quick scar? Is there any reason to believe that Bathsheba “forgave” David? Is there any reason to believe that she should? Is un-fixable harm the definition of un-forgivable? Do we really believe that repentance and atonement is possible when there is a lifetime of hurt?

    I have opinions, but on this level I look forward to a rich discussion where I will try to avoid or steer away from easy answers.

  25. Kristine: Thanks for your comments. I thought the comment about how the author of 2 Samuel has an agenda of making David look good, and if there were any real hint of fault on Bathsheba’s part, he would have been likely to emphasize it, was especially persuasive.

    Jason: Really good point about our own cultural moment.

  26. Martin: To be precise, are you saying that you think “be where you’re supposed to be and you won’t get tempted (as much?)” is actually part of what the story is meant to teach, or rather that it’s just one tangential point you could use the story to make? I could concede the latter, but I think to put the emphasis there is really missing the point.

    And that moral only works if “in those days, if a king ordered his men to war and he was physically capable, he was expected to be there” is actually true. I’ve heard that assertion lots of times, but I’ve never heard any evidence for it. I mean, it might be true, it sounds intuitive enough, but I’ve just never seen any evidence of it. It’s certainly not a point that the text seems to make, though, which is why I think it’s missing the point to focus on it.

    “It’s hard, if it’s gospel doctrine 101, to see what’s so great about the atonement if it allows a rapist/murderer to escape punishment.” This is an interesting point. On the one hand, I agree. The idea that people that hurt other people so deeply could be redeemed is hard to take. But on the other hand, the idea that the atonement can redeem the wicked does not mean that they “escape punishment”; it means that they will be changed from being wicked to being righteous. It’s more transformation than mere excuse. And honestly, it’s hard to see what’s so great about the atonement if it only saves those who deserve it. Since nobody does, that would make the atonement ineffective.

  27. David & Autumn: What does Bathsheba want from David? Maybe to take care of his child? Protect her from being stoned? Protect her from a violent reaction from her husband when he comes home months later to find her pregnant? I don’t think this is a reliable indication that she was at all complicit.

    It is noteworthy, though, I think, that this is basically the only time we see Bathsheba unequivocally portrayed as taking action rather than as the object of mens’ actions. I tend to read her message to David as essentially a demand that he take responsibility for his actions toward her.

    Kevin, JR, & Melanie: Okay, I’m convinced it was probably a mikvah. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    Christian: Thanks for your insightful comments. Good luck teaching this.

  28. Bro. Jones says:

    Are there still teachers who portray Bathsheba as a temptress/sinner in this story? Yiiiiiiiikes.

  29. Bro. Jones: “Temptress” hopefully not, but “temptation” at least is unavoidable if you follow the teacher’s manual, which ends with this Conclusion:
    “Explain that no matter how successful or strong we may be, we are not above temptation. Encourage class members to make any necessary changes in their lives that will help them be chaste in thought and action.”

    (I am not going there — which may be seen as a confession of sin in advance, in some quarters — but . . .) I don’t know how to get to that conclusion without portraying Bathsheba as temptation, or what the Roman Catholic’s would call an “occasion of sin.” The whole history of an attractive woman being considered an “occasion of sin” ranges from very troubling to deadly, in my opinion.

  30. Rexicorn says:

    I’ve always found it interesting that Matthew makes a point of mentioning that Jesus is descended from David and Bathsheba. There are very few female ancestors mentioned in that genealogy, but the author of Matthew points out that “Uriah’s wife” is both the mother of Solomon and an ancestor of Jesus (well, Joseph, but Jesus takes Joseph’s genealogy for his own). There’s a lesson in that that I haven’t completely articulated yet.

  31. Kristine says:
  32. Rexicorn says:

    Kristine, thank you! You guys always have the best references.

  33. True repentance takes years. Against you and you alone is Billy Grahamn repentance. Against others takes years to admit.
    There are unfortunately many # me too women in the Bible and we men must wake up!

  34. Melanie Henderson says:

    Bathsheba is one of the great women—but because in most scripture stories (given the era in which they were recorded) women are backdrop, not center-stage, we have to do more critical reading: After the personal tragedies of sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy, the murder of her husband, being taken from her home & people & brought into the palace—where it can be assumed not all the wives were welcoming (this woman became a king’s wife for something others were stoned for)—and then holding her infant son for a week as he wouldn’t suckle and eventually died… after all of THAT—we know that **Bathsheba got her feet back under her in a way that David never did.** Some scholars believe Bathsheba is the author of Proverbs 31: It’s a queen advising her son, a king (historians believe “Lemuel” is a term of endearment for Solomon here) how to be a king & how to choose a wife. There are warnings about drinking too much & “perverting the law” to hurt people, but the central message is the CHARACTER of a woman. This is meaningful because at the time, part of a kings currency & power was the renowned beauty of his wives, and yet not a single mention of female beauty in the passage. We know Solomon had an additional throne installed in his council room for his mother. Solomon sought Bsthsheba’s counsel throughout her life. Her resilience, kindness (see Prov. 31–she dies things for the poor no Queen has to personally do), and intelligence are inspirational.

  35. Wait, I did not know that about Proverbs 31! That is really interesting. I also think that Bathsheba must have learned a lot from the other women she was around — Abigail, in particular, is a really wonderful character.

  36. Thank you for this! I’ve just finished preparing my own lesson using many of your suggestions and questions. I think we’ll get a very good discussion going.

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