Monday, August 20, 2012

A Thousand Voices

When Bathsheba comes up in conversation...What? She's not lunch time conversation at your house?  Must just be us… the immediate thought is about her memorable bath-time adventure with King David.  But it is not the only story she is featured in.  There are a pair of stories at the beginning of 1 Kings that highlight the queen. 
In the first story she is approached by the prophet Nathan.  This is the same prophet who called David out for his murder of Uriah.  He intends to use her as a vehicle to sound out the king. David's son, Adonijah, was in the process of usurping the throne. This is an affront not only to his younger brother Solomon but his father David as well.  Although David had not been willing to correct Adonijah up to this point, the succession was in danger.  Nathan needed someone who had the power to get the king's attention, someone he would listen to, someone he loved more than Adonijah, and Bathsheba fit the bill. Due to her timely interference, her son assumed the throne.

In the second story she is approached by Adonijah as a vehicle to sound out King Solomon.  He wants his brother to give him the virgin Abishag who had warmed and nursed the aging king David.  Bathsheba comes before Solomon.  Her son, the sovereign king, rises to greet her.  He has a second throne set at his right hand, and promises to give his mother anything she asks for. However when she asks that Adonijah be given his father's nurse as a wife, Solomon immediately recognizes this as an overt power-play.  "Ask for him also the kingdom," he says incredulously. (1 Kings 2:22)

In these bookending stories Bathsheba is a woman of power.  Her power is expressed as a function of the people who listen to her.  She is the beloved queen of one king and the beloved mother of the other.  Unfortunately her power is limited by the people she listens to.  I can't determine if she is malleable, manipulatable, or merely amiable.  Perhaps as my daughter put it, "She was for looks not for books."

Bathsheba lacked discernment.  Would you have listened to Nathan?  He was brave and blameless and unafraid to stand up to the King.  Or would you have listened to Adonijah?  He was a spoiled boy-so rotten that his father the king had never once managed to stand up to him.  If the tables would have been turned, he would have murdered his brotherly rival and his father's favorite wife.  So who would you listen to? If you were Bathsheba you would have cooperatively listened to them both.

Every woman has power.  I know you have a circle of people who listen to you. Every woman is, inside of her own web of connections, extremely powerful.  The question then becomes who are you listening to?  Do those voices have their own agenda?  Are they ready like Adonijah to use you and your influence to cause harm to you and the people you love?  Are you listening to them?  Are you sure? 

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

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