Psalm 88 is my favorite psalm. I’m thankful for this Psalm, this and the imprecatory psalms, because they give us permission to feel and say things that we don’t often consider very “Christian”. Have you ever felt like the author of Psalm 88? Like your life is collapsing around you? What do you do with people who are struggling with depression or dark times or who are in the midst of a major life upheaval like the death of a loved one, divorce, financial ruin, or a life altering sickness? What kind of advice would you give to someone going through real pain? What kind of role should you play? What do you do one month later? What kind of advice or words of wisdom would you want to hear? What should you be/not be doing? Because the longer we live, the more likely it is that we’ll face some sort of life changing event.

One of the hardest things to do in studying the Bible is taking passages and immediately applying it to our modern situation. First, you have to see it from their culture, see what the passage was saying to the original hearer. Try to get a feel for how they were living and how they did things. Only then can you build bridges to our culture and time.

When I thought about the story of David and Bathsheba, one text got me thinking: Psalms 51:4. You see, Psalm 51 was the Psalm that David wrote when he was repenting of his sin with Bathsheba. David wrote to the Lord that “Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” II Samuel 11:1 – 12:25 is the familiar text, the story of David and Bathsheba, but the way we’ve usually been taught is from David’s perspective (he was a man after God’s own heart who either slipped into sin or was led into it by a temptress), but I wonder how Bathsheba saw things.

We’re familiar with David’s behavior, but the seeds of it were planted earlier. First let’s look at another piece of scripture that this story plays against. In I Samuel 25, we see the story of how David got his wife Abigail in a lesson learned about using his royal power for his own ends. David and his men were starved from being chased around by Saul when they came across a wealthy land owner, Nabal. David’s men were hungry but he ordered them to protect Nabal’s servants while they tended their sheep. As the anointed king, David could’ve taken some sheep, but instead, he came as a beggar. Nabal spit on his gesture and David could’ve, and in fact was in route to, avenged himself on Nabal, but Abigail interceded. The Lord “removed” Nabal, upholding David’s side of things and David took Abigail as his wife. Two things we learn here: 1) David has already learned a lesson on using royal power for personal ends; 2) David takes, at least, his third wife (Michal, Saul’s daughter, and Ahinoam). In fact, II Samuel 5:13 points to David’s growing harem.

Which brings us to Bathsheba.

[to be continued …]

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