Lessons from Bathsheba on Persevering in Purpose

Bathsheba makes her debut in the Bible in 2nd Samuel 11. To summarise the chapter, for those who don’t know the story, she is the lady that beguiled King David with her beauty as he spied on her while she bathed. This led him to summon her and sleep with her despite the fact that he knew she was married to Uriah, who actually also happened to be one of his loyal soldiers. As a result of this Bathsheba became pregnant, causing David to panic. At first he tried to pass the baby off as Uriah’s but when that plan failed, he arranged for him to be killed in battle. Given this whole scandalous affair, Bathsheba- like Potiphar’s wife, Lot’s wife and Achsah- is typically perceived as one of the women of ill repute featured in the Bible. However, be that as it may, she played an extremely important role in history and has much to teach us on the concept of “persevering in purpose”.

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In 2nd Samuel 12, we find out that Bathsheba’s pregnancy did not end well. Although she went to full term and successfully gave birth, “the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became [so] ill” it died- a fact that the prophet Nathan pre-warned David would happen as a result of his wrongdoing before it actually did (1st Samuel 12:7-14). This, of course, caused Bathsheba to become so grief-stricken that “David comforted” her. Bathsheba then went on to conceive and bear a son, named Solomon, whom God later chose to be king after David (1st Chronicles 29:1; 1st Chronicles 28:5-7) out of all his 19 sons. This is the same Solomon that the Queen of Sheba visited (as recorded in 1st Kings 10:1-13 and 2nd Chronicles 9:1-12) upon hearing of the wisdom and wealth God had blessed him with. He is also the same Solomon that was one of Jesus’ fore-fathers (Matthew 1:6-16).

In studying the story of Bathsheba I became strangely aware of the parallels between her and Mary, the mother of Christ. I say “strangely” because, as previously mentioned, Bathsheba does not tend to be placed in the same category as Mary. However Bathsheba, like Mary did several generations later, birthed a child that ultimately became the scapegoat and sacrifice for the sin of his parents. The Bible makes it abundantly clear in Romans 6:23 that the “wages of sin is death;” so her first son literally died in Bathsheba and David’s place that they might live and access God’s grace, as recorded in 2nd Samuel 12:13-14. This son, like Mary’s, died despite his innocence and the fact that he had “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth”. As such Bathsheba’s baby’s death acted as a foreshadow of what Christ would go on to do for the whole world.

In 2nd Samuel 7:16, God promised to establish David’s house (lineage); kingdom and throne forever. The parallels between Bathsheba and Mary are therefore further highlighted through the fact that both these women birthed sons who would manifest this prophesy- Bathsheba through the birth of her second son, Solomon, and Mary through Jesus.

Jesus, as previously mentioned, was a descendant of David which is why He was also referred to as the Son of David and/or the Root of David. Since Jesus’ agenda was not a political one, He did not succeed in re-establishing the house of David as sovereign over Israel by natural means (during Jesus' lifetime Israel was a part of the Roman empire). The fulfilment of this promise was however established through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is because, as a reward for completing His mission, Jesus ascended into heaven and is now seated on a throne at the right hand of the Father (Matthew 19:28; Hebrews 12:2). In this way, David’s throne has been given to Jesus (just as it was Solomon) and will have no end because Jesus, having overcome death by the power of His resurrection, is immortal and can therefore reign forever (1st Timothy 1:17; 1st Timothy 6:13-16; 2nd Timothy 1:10).

One of the major differences between Bathsheba and Mary, apart from the immaculateness of their conceptions and the way that they have been remembered in history as a result, is the fact that Bathsheba seems to have been quite an unwitting participant in the circumstances surrounding her first two children. Mary was pre-warned about Jesus’ birth and purpose, and accepted the mission that she was charged with (Luke 1:26-38). Bathsheba had no such opportunity. History has branded her a scarlet woman for her affair with David but I can’t help but sense an element of coercion and abuse of power on David’s part because, let’s face it, refusing the king could have resulted in punishment (think Vashti). Nevertheless, as we have studied extensively already, there was a purpose to everything that transpired afterwards proving that God truly does nothing without cause.

I can think of plenty of occasions in my life where God has closed doors on my behalf even when, like Bathsheba, it has truly grieved me to let them go. I have personally never felt the sorrow of losing a child, but I have lost brainchildren (dreams in the form of jobs, houses, friendships and relationships), that I thought truly belonged to me or would be around forever, whose life-spans were cut short like Bathsheba’s baby. What about you, lovely? Can you relate- whether it’s with me or our spiritual mother? Have you experienced loss before? Missed opportunity? Is this something that you are currently going through?

Well, while Bathsheba grieved the loss of her first-born son, she could not have known what his life and the life of her second son would mean in the grand scheme of things. Who knows if it was ever revealed to her in her lifetime! We get the luxury of seeing the positives in this tragic period of her life because we have the benefit of hindsight but the pain of such loss must have been excruciating at the time.

It can be the same for us. While we are going through loss it can be hard to find the glory in our tribulation or keep believing God’s word. We are so used to hearing about the God that bestows blessing that we forget that He also has the power and authority to take away at will. This is where faith comes in though. Faith is not the refusal to acknowledge the pain of closed doors, but the belief that if God is allowing you to experience it, it is for a purpose- just as it turned out to be for Bathsheba. Faith bridges the gap between fresh pain and hindsight’s stoic logic. The question is, are you willing to cross it and persevere as Bathsheba did? One thing’s for sure- you won’t birth your promise or purpose if you don’t. Want guidance on how to go about doing this?