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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

David's Great Mistake

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, Feb. 7, 2015:

2 Samuel 11

This Sunday, we cover a difficult story for many of us, the story of David and Bathsheba.  It shows David in a horrible light, and it's not just modern feminists who see it this way.  David's actions to claim a woman who belonged to another man and to deceive the husband of that woman and then to have him killed--these actions displease God.

My most painful memory about this story revolves back to a teacher in my Presbyterian elementary school who told us that the message of the story was that women have to be careful because we can't know the effect of our beauty on boys--and therefore, it's our responsibility as females to keep ourselves covered.

As an older student, I realized that Bathsheba wasn't flaunting herself--no, she was trying to take a private bath and David spied on her--and then, worse. 

As a woman, I've wondered what Bathsheba felt, a woman in a patriarchal society with absolutely no say so in her destiny.  In many ways, her best bet is to do what the king wants--and frankly, in many societies today, that's still the case.  Let's be clear:  she really has no choice.  And yet, her whole life is upended with her pregnancy.  It's clear from the text that David doesn't intend to marry her, as he sends her home.  It's only with the pregnancy that he cannot hide his action.

If the story hasn't horrified us yet, the rest of the saga should make us shudder.  And then we return to the king--this is the mighty King David?  How can he behave in this beastly way?

That's the message that weaves its way throughout both the Old and New Testament--God can use any human, no matter how badly that human may behave.

David's actions change forever the way that I will see him.  Because of his actions towards Bathsheba and Uriah, her husband, I will never see him as noble again.  He's not quite as worthy in my eyes.

Luckily, God does not share my view.  Luckily for us all.

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