Bathsheba: Purpose Veiled in Mystery
Bathsheba takes her place with Tamar and Rahab to prove that Jesus invites "an equal opportunity ministry for crooks and saints." That complex mix of nobodies and hooligans who formed the genealogy of the savior tells us that we play our parts too. God uses our peculiarities and gifts for powerful reasons we never guess. Godwin concludes, "Who of us can say we're not in the process of being used right now...to fulfill some purpose whose grace and goodness would boggle our imagination if we could even begin to get our minds around it?"
From Nathan's criticism of David, we know that God doesn't take kindly to using or possessing people. Indeed, the death of the first child is read as punishment for the king's arrogance. But why must the innocent mother suffer for the father's deed? The unanswered questions raised by Bathsheba's story prepare the way for a Christ who never manipulated nor demeaned anyone. Indeed, he was actively concerned about the welfare of the most apparently insignificant woman.
Buechner in the book mentioned earlier imagines David on his deathbed looking back on the lovely young woman who had inspired such fatal consequences. From that perspective, David realizes that the story wasn't about them. Instead, it was a step towards "the child of their child of their child a thousand years thence who he could only pray would find it in his heart to think kindly someday of the beautiful girl and the improvident king who had so recklessly and long ago been responsible for his birth in a stable and his death just outside the city walls."
Resource: 2 Sam. 11 & 12, I Kings 1 & 2
This piece previously appeared in St. Anthony's Messenger, and is reprinted with permission of the author.
Kathy Coffey is a national speaker, retreat leader, and the author of numerous articles in Catholic periodicals. On the web, find Kathy at: kathyjcoffey.wordpress.com