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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Bathsheba—2 Samuel 11. and 12.

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BATHSHEBA.


God's people are a tempted people. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man." (1Cr 10:13.) None need be ashamed because he is tempted, but only if he falls under the temptation. We have need to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," and we have need to watch lest we go, of our own free will into circumstances which will naturally lead us into temptation.

David, the man after God's own heart, was not exempt from temptation. After many years of close guidance from his God, and after the distinct promise, "I will guide thee with Mine eye" (Psa 32:8), and an experience of God's faithfulness to His promise, he rested at home "at the time when kings go forth to battle," without asking or receiving counsel from his God. He "tarried still at Jerusalem," sending Joab and his servants to do the fighting for him.

There is a wonderful fight in which all God's people should be engaged: it is "the good fight of faith." (1Ti 6:12.) A time of rest which is given by God is a precious benefit; a time of rest which is self‐provided may be at any time an occasion for temptation: and thus it proved with David. Satan has his hand in all those circumstances which have not been committed beforehand to the Lord.

David's communion with God had been slackening. Instead of inquiring habitually of the Lord as he had done in the time of his trials, he went to war without God's intimate direction, and now had become indolent.

Indolence and self‐seeking open the door to other temptations. When "David arose from off his bed" the enemy provided a beautiful woman to be a snare to him, and David, off his guard, sent for this woman for no good purpose.

It was a critical moment for Bathsheba. She was probably flattered with the king's admiration. It was a question whether she should think of herself, or whether she should consider what she owed to God, what she owed to her husband, and what she owed to her king. Abigail had proved a wondrous blessing to David in reproving him with all godly and womanly dignity, when he had sought to avenge himself with his own hand against Nabal. Abigail was a blessed woman, a true helpmeet. But Bathsheba, placed in the same circumstances as those of Joseph in Potiphar's house, did not stand, as he did, for God against temptation, she did not say as she might have done: "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" It is very probable that Satan came in his insinuating way, and said to her that such a good man as David must be right, and that it could not be sin to do what he should tell her; and so, with David in her eyes rather than God, this woman, who was made to be a helpmeet and a blessing to man, became a helper of his sin, an instrument of the wicked one for his destruction, and an occasion for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme even until now.

How much sin might have been spared, how much misery, how much of the dark history of David's family in the future, if Bathsheba had acted with the holy dignity which characterised Joseph in Egypt! But, instead of this, she

YIELDED TO TEMPTATION,

and the king, God's witness, God's sweet Psalmist, fell, and Bathsheba with him.

How far Bathsheba connived at David's wicked attempts to hide his sin by sending for Uriah, and urging him to go down to his house, making him drunk, and then, when his device did not succeed, inciting Joab to place him in a position in the army where he could not escape death, we know not. It is more than probable she had a hand in it. If she were ambitious to be the wife of the king, she had her will, but sorrow was in store for her. The king, whose company was prized by all who knew him, must have been greatly altered in his state of backsliding. Like every other backslider, he must have been dissatisfied with himself, dissatisfied with his surroundings, ill at ease with his God; and it was only when the faithful, holy prophet Nathan came in the name of his God to awaken David's conscience, that a change came about in his experience. Probably there may have been bitter words and recriminations between David and Bathsheba during those months of darkness when God's face was hidden from him.

When the reproof of God by Nathan came home to David, "Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house: because thou hast despised Me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife." It is probable that Bathsheba also came under God's curse. When Nathan again said to David: "Thou art the man," Bathsheba would feel: "And I am the woman who has sinned against the Lord." When God struck the child that it was very sick, who would share David's fastings and his watchings like the mother of that child? Who would feel the justice of the blow as she would? It was, probably, this bitter sorrow, this valley of the shadow of death, that brought her to the end of herself in God's presence, and that fitted her by‐and‐by to be the mother of God's chosen successor to David, the future king, Solomon.

Bathsheba shared the sorrows of David's later life-the awful sin of his children, Ammon, Tamar, Absalom, Adonijah-O what a history of sin, uncleanness, murder, conspiracy! All were the result of that one sin, that opportunity lost, in which, if Bathsheba had been true, she might have prevented, though she little knew it then, all which subsequently happened. In the end of David's life, when his son, Adonijah, taking advantage of his aged father's enfeebled condition, attempted to seize the kingdom, Bathsheba rose to the occasion. Prompted by Nathan, the faithful old prophet who had been the king's best adviser, she undertook to inform the king of his son's conspiracy, and Nathan undertook to confirm her words. Everything for the future of the kingdom, and for the future of Solomon, her son, might depend upon this effort.

Bathsheba knew, and Nathan knew how God had chosen Solomon to succeed David. It was in the presence of the princes of Israel that David had given a charge to Solomon to build a house for the Lord God of Israel (1Ch 22:6; 22:19), and in the course of his charge to Solomon David had quoted the word of God to him, spoken before Solomon's birth: "Behold, a son shall be born unto thee, who shall be a man of rest: and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about, for his name shall be Solomon (peaceable): and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name; and he shall be My son, and I will be his Father, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever." (1Ch 22:9-10.)

In the strength of this word of God, Bathsheba went forward, presented herself before the aged king, and did obeisance.

"What wouldest thou?" said the king.

"My lord," she answered, "thou swarest by the Lord thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon, thy son, shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne: and now behold Adonijah reigneth: and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not…And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou souldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him." And Nathan the prophet followed immediately with the same tidings.

"Call me Bathsheba." The queen stood before him.

It was the moment of crisis: such a moment for quiet, firm waiting upon the Lord. O, how much must have passed in that queen mother's heart in that crisis! And the king said:

"As the Lord liveth that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, even as I sware unto thee by the Lord God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon, thy son, shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day."

"Let my lord King David live for ever," was Bathsheba's reply, with her face bowed down to the very ground.

"Call me Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada," commanded the king: and when they appeared, the old king gave immediate orders for the anointing of Solomon king, and for the proclamation that Solomon was made king already in his father's stead over all Israel.

Bathsheba had well and wisely done her part: but when David was dead, and Adonijah, whom Solomon had pardoned, besought Bathsheba to intercede with Solomon that Abishag, who had nursed David in his old age, should be given him to wife, Bathsheba did not act by faith. Probably she was led by the natural instinct which leads a woman to do all she can to please without thinking of the consequences. Solomon saw the matter as it really was, and judged accordingly. Far from doing Adonijah a benefit, Bathsheba had only helped forward his execution. (1Ki 2:13-25.) Another lesson for women. How often the desire to do some one a pleasure has led to sad consequences! With every true child of God, that which "is not of faith is sin." (Rom 14:20.) Faith can wait for guidance from God, and He will make known His mind. It is a dangerous thing to do anything for the simple purpose of pleasing another, and so currying favour in their eyes. There is more of selfishness in this than many think.

Bathsheba's beauty and love of pleasing were her snare. Beauty is a great temptation to many women; they are intoxicated with admiration; but O, what dangers lie in this! A woman's beauty is as much a gift to be used by God as any other gift she has; the beauty of a spiritual woman is as much the Lord's property as the tongue of the preacher; or the heart of the intercessor. If every godly woman sees herself to be not her own, but bought with a price, she may glorify God in her body and her spirit, which are His, and so prove a true helpmeet to her husband, her son, or her brother.

It is a striking fact that, in the generations of the Lord Jesus, only

FOUR WOMEN's NAMES

are mentioned, and these were all such as had a shadow upon their characters, sinners saved by grace, unclean in themselves, but made clean by the blood of Christ, anticipated by faith. Tamar, Judah's daughter‐in‐law, Rahab the harlot, Ruth the former idolatress, and Bathsheba, all found their place in the line of Christ's ancestry. He took upon Him the likeness of sinful flesh, and by His precious blood, He puts away sin, and takes His place in the human nature which He has purified.

O the depth of His wondrous, unspeakable love to undeserving sinners whom He is not ashamed to call brethren. (Heb 2:11.)

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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