Bathsheba’s Legacy- the Woman Behind Proverbs 31

Bathsheba’s life beautifully illustrates how God’s abundant mercy is greater than our worst failings.

When we think of David’s sin with Bathsheba we usually consider the events surrounding the incident (2 Samuel 11:1-26), the horrible consequences (2 Sam. 12:10-15), David’s agonizing repentance (Psalm 51), and maybe the subject of babies going to Heaven (2 Sam. 12:23). But we seldom ponder the valuable lessons to be gleaned from the life of Bathsheba herself.


Bathsheba, meaning “daughter of the oath”, was a beautiful and reputable woman from a prominent patriotic family. Her father, grandfather, and husband were part of David’s mighty men “who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king.” (I Chron. 11:10).  Her grandfather Ahitophel was one of David’s advisors at the time. Uriah, her husband, was a Hittite whose Hebrew name meant “The Lord is my light”, and Nathan’s prophetic parable reveals that they had enjoyed a blessed and monogamous marriage prior to these tragic events (2 Sam. 12:3). We also know that Bathsheba followed the Hebrew cleansing ceremonies (2 Sam. 11:4) and that she mourned her husband’s death (2 Sam. 11:26) .

To recap the story, it happened in the springtime when David’s men were off to war, but for reasons unknown David stayed home. Arising from his couch, David walked out onto his roof  overlooking Jerusalem and his eyes landed on Bathsheba bathing. The Bible doesn’t say whether she was bathing inside with an open window or door, or if she was outside. And so David inquired and sent for her, lay with her, and she became pregnant. The only recorded words of Bathsheba during this whole period were, “I am pregnant”  (2 Sam. 11:5). To cover his sin, David arranged to have Uriah sent to the frontline of battle where he was killed.


Speculations abound about both David and Bathsheba that are not clearly backed in Scripture. Some blame Bathsheba for deliberate enticement and collusion in her husband’s death, while others have accused David of coercion, and even rape.
Bathsheba’s indiscretion in bathing where she could be seen is no proof that she had ulterior motives. It is equally presumptuous to say that David  took her by coercion or force. Rape was a heinous crime in Israel punishable by death (Dt. 22:25-26) and when this was committed against Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Gen. 34) and David’s granddaughter Tamar (2 Sam. 13:12-13), it was plainly stated. But when Nathan confronted David he leveled no such charge.

Others have suggested that Bathsheba was pressured into this relationship by David’s powerful position and by cultural views regarding women. Given our modern sensitivities concerning women’s rights, I think we need to be careful not to read more into this account than is actually there.

“In the expression “he took her, and she came to him,” there is no intimation whatever that David brought Bathsheba into his palace through craft or violence, but rather that she came at his request without any hesitation, and offered no resistance to his desires. Consequently Bathsheba is not to be regarded as free from blame.” 1.Though David bore the responsibility, it appears the adulterous relationship was entirely consensual.

Nathan’s prophecy included the death of their baby, family scandal, and national insurrection, which drove David to repentance. But God’s mercy soon followed.

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