Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.”
Psalm 121: 1-3
King James Version
Today’s Text for Study:
“And David sent messengers and took her. And she came in to him, and he lay with her – for she was purified from her uncleanness. Then she returned to her house.”
II Samuel 11: 4
“Bathsheba: The King’s Mistress”
“A mistress never is, nor can be a friend. While you agree, you are lovers; and when it is over, anything but friends.”
When I hear or see the word “mistress,” what image comes to my mind?
“This is the bitterest of all – to wear the yoke of our own wrong-doing.”
These are the Webster’s Dictionary definitions of the word “mistress:”
- A woman in a position of authority, control or ownership as the head of a household.
- A woman owning an animal or formerly a slave.
- A woman who has ultimate control over something, like “the mistress of our affections.”
- Something that directs or reigns and is personified as female.
- A woman who has mastered a skill.
- A woman who has a continuing sexual relationship with a man to whom she is not married, especially one who receives financial support from the man.
Over the past few days, we have begun to uncover facets in the life of Bathsheba other than the all too common view of her being an unnamed bathing beauty seduced by King David.
We have come to recognize that Bathsheba was a daughter and the wife of a highly esteemed soldier, Uriah the Hittite.
But our text today gives us another view of Bathsheba’s life. Several months ago, as we studied about David’s initial contact with Bathsheba, I asked the question, “Why didn’t Bathsheba just say, ‘No,’ to King David. Other women down through history stood up to power. The midwives in Egypt said, “No,” to Pharaoh. Queen Vashti stood up to the king, too. The fact is, while standing firm for what is right may cost you, even life itself, there are witnesses to the fact that speaking God’s truth to power, while it takes courage is something our heavenly Father will provide us the strength to do when needed.
In our study today, I want to focus on another critical element present in the story of David and Bathsheba, and this has to do with what we would call today, Bathsheba’s role as David’s mistress.
While social rules were different in the time of David, and kings often took liberties with their marriage vows that we would consider out-of-bounds today, there is one unchanging, universal law – and it is God’s law. Now please, don’t think I’m trying to condemn anyone for some “not so perfect” behavior. Be it far from me to criticize another person for the tiny speck of dirt in their eye when I’m certain many times I’ve had, as the Bible so aptly states, “a beam” in my own eye – or perhaps a Sequoia Tree – one of the largest on earth.
The Bible is clear that “ALL” of us have sinned and come short of God’s glory – and yes, this means all of us. It also means, we shouldn’t be sitting around calling each other names or pointing out each others faults. This is why I want us to remember all our imperfections as we tackle this part of Bathsheba’s story. And as I promised, here in the Garden, we dig deep into the good, bad, and the ugly that is laid out in God’s Word for us to learn from. With God’s help, I want to look at one simple fact regarding the “hook-up” between David and Bathsheba and it is this: they were two consenting adults who were married to other spouses (in David’s case, more than one) and decided, whether it was by sheer physical attraction or the lure of power we are not told, to have sex with each other. This is the baseline of this story. Two married people “getting it on” with apparently little thought of the consequences their rash action might have long-term.
Now, from David’s standpoint, we have witnessed some of the devastating results this one act had on his family, his soldiers, his counselors, as well as the people he ruled. To use the word devastating probably isn’t even strong enough. This, however, is only one side of the story.
Today, I want to look at the other individual in this sexual duet, for as the old saying goes, “It takes two to tango.”
I hope you took a moment to read through all the definitions of the word “mistress.” I doubt this term was even heard of at the time of David and Bathsheba’s affair. But if you read each one of those definitions, which I personally found extremely insightful, you’ll see that a “mistress” in early time was the head of a household. She ruled the roost, so to speak. During the abominable tragedy of slavery, the “mistress” ruled many of the house slaves. And here is where this word becomes very unique for David, we find, had such poor control of his passions, and there is the possibility that the same may have been true for Bathsheba, that the appeal of one for the other so blinded this pair to the heavenly wisdom their Father gave them as His gift, that at the moment their passions and longings captured them, nothing else and no one else mattered. David longed for the beautiful Bathsheba and who knows, with her husband gone, Bathsheba may have been lonely and longed for the handsome David, too.
I want to share with you a very personal experience I had as a twenty-one-year-old living far away from family in a small city. I needed to sell a car which had a big payment and was a gas-hog! I put an ad in the local paper and received several calls. I finally settled on having one person come to see the car who really sounded interested and would pay me what was necessary so I could get into a more economical automobile. When this man arrived at my apartment, all I could say was, “WOW!” He defined the word “dreamboat,” as we used to call handsome men. He had it all. He owned a very successful company in town. He was tall, blonde and gorgeous. What a line he threw out to me and I let him reel me right in. He asked me out to dinner and without one thought I gladly and excitedly said, “Yes!” When the day for our “date” arrived, I happened to be with a girlfriend downtown and I blurted out what I thought was a story of how my lucky day had arrived. When I told my friend the man’s name, her mouth dropped open and her eyes nearly popped out of her head as she exclaimed, “I thought you didn’t date married men?!?” Fortunately, before every person in the very small town had the opportunity to see me parading around on the arm of “Mr. Suave,” I was able to untangle myself from this situation. However, what set me back about this event was the fact that all I had cared about at first was how handsome and successful this man was. I hadn’t taken even one second to consider the consequences of going out with someone I knew so little about. And it was because, as I reflect back to that time in my life, my “spiritual” foundation had severe damage done to it.
While there were some very good reasons for the pain I was going through spiritually, it didn’t change the fact that my self-focused pleasure came very close to entangling me in a situation I knew to be wrong.
It was the great poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson who wrote; “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.” For all of us each day, the strength to live a life within our Father’s love and power is only a prayer for help away. The poet, John Keble stated this thought best when he wrote:
“Still to the lowly soul
He doth Himself impart,
And for His dwelling and His throne
Chooseth the pure in heart.
Lord, we Thy presence seek;
May ours this blessing be;
Give us a pure and lowly heart,
A temple meet for Thee.”
Please come back tomorrow as we study about how a pure heart can keep us from bearing the weight of the negative emotions of blame, shame, and fear that come with the choices we make which are outside God’s will for our lives.
“Today I can only be…
a broken cup,
a cracked vase,
I know my need, for I am needy.
Too tired to acknowledge my thirst,
Still I know it’s there.
Come, Holy Spirit, and fill this
shattered vessel with your life,
love, and strength
That I may do Your will.”
Mrs. Gretchen Olheiser
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.