"David sent his agents to get her (Bathsheba). After she arrived, he (David) went to bed with her. (This occurred during the time of ‘purification' following her period.) Then she (Bathsheba) returned home.'"
II Samuel 11: 4, The Message Bible
"From a Woman's Point of View" Part 3- "Why Didn't Bathsheba Say ‘No?'"
"Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasures."
What type of boundaries have I set in my life?
How have I let others break down boundaries that were important to me?
What has been the result?
"Better, though difficult, the right way to go, than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe."
"If you don't stand for something, you won't stand for anything."
I've always been a fan of the actress and famed dance partner of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. It has been said that she once observed that she did everything Fred Astaire did when he danced, only she did it backwards. In interviews, she noted that in the early days of her career, the work environment could be tough on beautiful, young women - and I'm certain she knew exactly what she was talking about.
I expect that Bathsheba could have chimed in with a few astute observations herself about what it was like to be a beautiful young woman in David's kingdom, too. As a "subject" of the king, direct disobedience of a royal command had consequences - even lethal ones - for going against the king could be construed as an act of defiant tyranny. And so, this brings us to Bathsheba's dilemma. David "seized" her, according to the Hebrew, so he could "use" her for his pleasure. I wonder whether David used his way with words to try and soften the blow. Think for a minute about the lyrical, beauty found in the Psalms. Now just imagine words like that being spoken to a woman you "wanted" very badly. Who knows what David did to make his move on Bathsheba. But one thing is certain, David got what he wanted. And once he did, he sent Bathsheba home. Certainly not a romantic picture if you were in Bathsheba's place.
And so, as I've pondered this scene as a woman, I've asked myself, "Why didn't Bathsheba say, ‘No'?" Of course, my first answer is that the king had the authority and the power to do Bathsheba harm. For all we know, David could have forcefully taken from Bathsheba what she didn't want to give. However, the Bible is silent on exactly what transpired. And there is no evidence that Bathsheba attempted to "fight off" David's advances. So this brings me to an interesting observation regarding this story that applies to our lives today. It's another time when God's Word is so timely.
I invite you to go back in time to some of our early studies on Biblical women - clear back to Genesis beginning with Eve. I have to give it to Eve, while she let a talking serpent lead her to believe she could be as smart as God if she ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, at least Eve was trying, albeit unwisely, to increase her intellect. Many women in the book of Genesis were, as we found out, strong, intelligent and yes, crafty. These girls were not push-over's. They didn't bend when power got in their faces and threatened them. In fact, when we studied about Sarai and Rebekah, we found women who displayed strength and leadership within their own families. And think of the women in Moses' life, Shiprah and Puah, the midwives who stood up to Pharoah and even the Princess of Egypt who stood up to her own father. Then there were Jochebed and Miriam, Moses' mother and sister, along with Zipporah, Moses' industrious wife. Our studies have been filled with lessons from strong women - Deborah, Ruth, Naomi, Noah's wife, Samson's mother and many more. Women who not only showed character, but who displayed a strength that defied the immorality in the times and in the places they lived. And I might add, these were women who had one thing in common for sure, they set moral boundaries in their lives that no one could destroy.
This brings me to a word that I believe we as women need to understand better, and it is the word: boundary. Webster's dictionary defines this word as: A border or limit. And unfortunately, I believe that especially as women, we have a very tough time setting limits and keeping boundaries well defined. Let me tell you why, and believe me, I speak from personal experience.
As women, many times we are raised to be the care-givers of our homes and even by societal mores. I know that my own personal perception as I grew up was one of wanting to please others. I wanted to make others happy. I wanted to take care of others. This is one reason, I believe, I became a Registered Nurse - I had the heart and hands of a care-giver. And I know, from the thousands of emails I've received over the past few years, that many of you find yourselves walking the same path. Don't get me wrong, the desire to take care of and provide for others and make them happy is not a bad idea - but only up to a certain point for it can become easy to have the line blurred and the boundary broken down when another person takes advantage of those kindly, care-giver traits and turns them on their heads to extract their own personal desires which may be completely unacceptable on a personal level as well as on a spiritual level.
I wasn't there in the palace with Bathsheba and David, so I cannot say for certain why Bathsheba didn't look David in the eye and say, "Not with me Mister. Keep your hands off." But I do know this, that as we have traveled from Genesis to II Samuel, there has been a steady decline in the role and respect shown to women, until in Judges we find the wife of a Levite was gang-raped and left for dead on the doorstep of the home where her husband was staying. And this atrocious act was perpetrated by God's sons from the tribe of Benjamin. What's even more blood chilling is that the Levite left his wife dead on the doorstep all night. Now if this isn't a case of broken boundaries, I don't know what is, but sadly, this was just one demonic indicator of how far society had slid downhill in its treatment of women. Author Rita Mae Brown describes this type of societal problem as "ethical rickets." Nobody stands up for anything. No one sets a boundary and says, "No further than this." And if we look at the crumbling of the Israelite society, where they intermingled with nations who had absolutely no concern for boundaries defined by God, we will find that the taint and tarnish of devaluing humans - especially women and children, crept like toxic mold into the lives of God's children. David had shown little respect for the women in his life, taking one wife after another. His desire to please his own longings became his life guide - if you can call it that. It was as though his moral compass was spinning around, out of control, sending him in any direction his eyes fell - and in Bathsheba's case, David's eyes fell on her. And so, when called into the king's palace, I believe that like other women who had entered David's life before her, Bathsheba had so let society define her boundaries, she didn't have any of her own.
Recently, I read an interview by the folk singer, Barry McGuire who was famous for his song, Eve of Destruction. My parents were good friends with Barry many years ago and I'll never forget him visiting my dad's office one day at the height of his worldly popularity. He was a tall, handsome man - decked out in motorcycle regalia. In his current interview, looking back on those days, this is how Barry described his life - a life without boundaries: "There was a real shedding of the old dogma, like boundaries of morality were being broken down and everyone was into the new party mode of just loving each other. Which destroyed thousands of us. I lost sixteen of my personal friends through that lifestyle."
Broken boundaries, torn down by those who had no concern for others, tied with a fear that I can't really please another person, was at the heart of the tragedy between a king and his subject.
In the movie Camelot, one of my all time favorites, is a phrase I love, and have written on a post-a-note on my desk, "Right makes might!" And I'd add, that unbroken boundaries that are within our Father's plan for our lives, will keep us standing firm with the right choices which do make might!
"Lord, give us faith that right makes might"
"O God, from whom to be turned is to fall, to whom to be turned is to rise, and in whom to stand is to abide for ever: grant us in all our duties Thy help, in all our perplexities Thy guidance, in all our dangers Thy protection, and in all our sorrows Thy peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.