I was gonna do this as a #SundaySermon, but the more I read about her, the more I started to feel some type of way.
You see, at first, I started looking at her from this place of kindred spirit–how as a woman I have fallen off in some way of being a good and faithful wife, how I’ve found myself snatched up in a place of confusion and out-of-orderness that has damaged my marriage. But the more I looked at the complexity and context of her life, the more I felt a need to…I dunno…defend her.
When you hear the record of her life through the voice of the church and men and doctrine, it is most often as a parenthetical to King David’s greatness and heart for God–all the way down to the loss of her child with David and her motherhood to the next great king, Solomon. But when you pull back the layers of patriarchy and (sometimes hypocritical) heroism and patriotism (Jewish and Christian) connected with David’s story, you see a woman who’d fit right into the Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby or Bill Clinton or [insert whatever powerful, wealthy man you want to here] story of today.
I mean, imagine it. You’re somewhere doing what you was supposed to be doing at a time when most men are supposed to not even be around, and bam! You find yourself being summoned to the King’s home–after which you are forever labeled as an “adulteress” while the man who may actually have just forced himself on you gets all the praise. Lemme break it allaweigh down for you:
It was spring. David shoulda been out there in the field doing his job, which was leading battles against the enemies of Israel and God. No reason whatsoever for him to have been at home chilling. None. And Bathsheba would have assumed that David was out on the battlefield because her husband was out there working for the King. So. Had he been on his job,
He woulda never been looking over into people’s houses from the roof tops. Most preachers call it wrong; original scripture states that David (not Bethsheba) was on the rooftop and saw her doing her purification bath. Because in old Jewish culture, every time a woman menstruated or had a baby or any of the other things our bodies did, you were called unclean and had to go take a special bath. Seriously. Look it up. But like I said, Mr. “I-don’t-feel-like-going-to-work-this-week” should not have been his lurking self on the rooftop. But since he was, that led to him seeing Bathsheba taking her ritual bath, which led to the problem:
He summed her to the palace. Listen. Say what you want. In that time and place, in that incredibly misogynistic and patriarchal culture, you was not finna say to a bloody king, “Nah, G. I’ll pass on that invite.” And honestly, being summoned by the King of Judah who integrated Israel and Judah back into one nation, who slay a giant, who killed bears and lions, whom God had shown immeasurable favor–who would want to pass that up? I certainly would have gone to R. Kelly back in the day had the Pied Piper called me over. Because fangirl. And even deeper, Bathsheba’s husband was a good soldier in the army. If Donald Trump called an army wife into the Oval Office, I think she’d go. Pussy grabbing and all–cuz she’d be thinking bout her husband.
So here we are. A woman living in the complicated struggle where womanhood is sexually tantalizing yet also absolutely expendable in a world full of men. David did not care about her honor–he, who was a man “after God’s own heart,” had (consensual? Coerced? Forced? Who knows) sex with someone else’s wife. David didn’t care about her or her husband–he tried to deceive Uriah into sleeping with Bathsheba after she became pregnant, then had Uriah killed when Uriah honored his job more than his marriage (tuh. Another word in there). Her baby died, and he went in and had sex with her again–the word used is “comforted” her. Insert teeth sucking here. At this point I doubt she even cared if she was coming or going. Her whole life had been destroyed and to add insult to injury every sermon preached makes her out as “the adulteress.” What about David sorry ass? Oh wait! He was a man in power! He could do as he wished, even lying in the bed with young girls “to keep him warm” when he got old. Nasty old …
The point is, her story is our story. Her life is the visual landmine through which women walk daily, a grueling gauntlet of making the best of not ideal situations. Our bodies weaponized against us, we figure out how to go on. We birth little boys who will one day become kings, pour wisdom into them from our broken spaces because despite our brokenness, we used to be more than the adulteress that we have been forced to become. We more than the assaults, more than the catcalls, more than the contempt, more than the violence when we say “no,” more than the shame that comes when we don’t. We are Uriah’s wife, women scarred but loved and carriers of greatness despite those innocent selves we leave behind in unspoken misinterpreted pain.
So this is for the Bathshebas out there. For the original and the ones who’ve stumbled after her, live complicated by the taint of sexual victimhood. You are more than just that moment, more than the shame you have carried, more than a story batted about by men who have lost nothing. You are more.
Come back Sunday. I’ll show you how.