We’re drawing near the conclusion of our summer sermon series on the story of David, which we’ve been calling, Holy, Broken Hallelujah. This coming Sunday we arrive at the “broken” part.
David and Bathsheba.
Or rather, David, Bathsheba, and Uriah, her husband. Walter Brueggemann claims this is “the moment of no return” in the story of Israel. “Innocence is never to be retrieved.”
David, the wunderkind “man after God’s own heart,” now fully at the height of his powers, makes a series of choices that would forever altar the course of his life, the life of his family, and the life of Israel—not to mention end the life of Uriah, a solider under his charge.
As we noted two Sundays ago when considering David’s battle with Goliath, the tragedy of the David story is that in the end David becomes Goliath. David becomes a bully, using military strength and unchecked imperial power to manipulate things and people, to devastating effect.
In an important way, this story points to universal realities and struggles: the intoxicating drug of power, the blinding dangers of desire and temptation, the snowball effect of sin and self-protection.
But this story also points to something specific that has been brought more into light through the recent #MeToo moment, which is vulnerability of women in the face of powerful men.
For much of the history of interpretation of this passage, Bethsheba has been presented, at worst, as a willing, opportunistic accomplice to David, and at best as simply a prop in his story. Or perhaps as a “type:” she is the female form, the object of male desire, the temptation in the face of which David was rendered helpless.
But we know better.
Bathsheba may be symbol, but it she is, she represents the untold women who have found themselves vulnerable in the face of male power.
There’s simply no getting around the hard and painful parts of this story, and we will do some of this together in worship on Sunday. While I’ll do my best to ensure my treatment of this text will be appropriate for the morning worship hour, parents of children who will be in worship may want to prepare them for some of these more “mature themes.” I also recognize these themes may be especially difficult for some who have found themselves in similarly vulnerable situations. Know you are in my heart as I prepare and as we worship together.