Vicar’s Reflection: 29 July 2018
The murky story of King David’s affair with Bathsheba shows David in the worst possible light. Here he is, King of Israel; indulging in the luxury of his palace while his army is out fighting the enemy. His position of privilege enables him to see a beautiful woman from his roof-top and to summon her to his presence to begin an affair. What her feelings may be about this are not disclosed, but David is King, he holds the life and death of his subjects in his hands. Uriah, a humble foot-soldier in David’s army and Bathsheba’s husband is by contrast a man of absolute honour. He refuses to enjoy the comforts of home while serving in the King’s campaigns and his comrades are in battle. David tries to induce him into the arms of his wife to obscure his responsibility for Bathsheba’s pregnancy. When this fails, he arranges Uriah’s ‘accidental’ death in battle. David was Israel’s greatest king so the fact this story was not removed is amazing. It points to the integrity of scripture, and that enduring moral lessons are to be learned from these tragic events: God’s judgement on the abuse of power and privilege; discerning right from wrong; true honour and dishonour; fidelity in relationships; complicity in the sin of others as a form of systemic sin or corporate failure. There is so much to reflect on in this tragic story which reads as freshly as a plot-line from a modern drama.