This Advent meditation is part of the Liberti Church 2019 Advent and Christmas Prayerbook, and it is by Liberti member Maria Lipkin.
When I read some of the episodes of David’s story I often think, “what a coward! How did God let him get away with so much?!” I feel this way especially when I read the story of David and Bathsheba. Here is a king who was supposed to be fighting with his men but is instead lounging around his palace. At the first sight of a naked woman, he makes her have sex with him even though she is married to one of his own valiant soldiers! They conceive a child and David kills her husband to cover up his act. The child dies because of David’s sin.
But then, the Lord was merciful. The Lord allows David and Bathsheba to have another son named Solomon, and allows David to be victorious over the enemy city of Rabbah.
Later, after another act of disobedience, the Lord gives David options for punishment and, not surprisingly, David’s cowardice keeps him from choosing the punishment that would have only affected him personally. He chooses the nationwide plague, which brings about the death of 70,000 people in the nation of Israel.
But then, the Lord was merciful. God stops the plague from falling on the city of Jerusalem. This brings David to repentance, and he tells the Lord “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.” (2 Samuel 24.17)
In all these events, it is easy to see David as the central character of the story and minimize Bathsheba. But she was there during all of this, also needing mercy. We often forget the tragedy and pain David brought into this woman’s life. He raped her and killed her husband. She became pregnant with her rapist’s son and was made to marry him. Her first son was killed because of this new husband’s sin. She had to watch her husband fail time and again, bringing more scorn and disrepute on her, her family, and their nation.
And yet, the Lord was merciful. Not just towards David, but Bathsheba as well. God’s mercy does not discriminate (thankfully!). He has mercy on those who like David, have lost themselves to sin and made very bad decisions, and he also has mercy on those who like Bathsheba, are traumatized, broken, hurting, and feel like they are without a voice or advocate.
God’s mercy never ceases to amaze me. I am quick to judge David for his sin and I often forget Bathsheba. But I am slow to realize just how much both David and Bathsheba live inside me. Like David, my heart has been so hard that I have committed sins I wouldn’t admit to my best friend. And like Bathsheba, I have felt overlooked, hurt, and forgotten. Yet how many times in my life has there been a “but then, the Lord was merciful”? Too many to count.
In an age of social media and constant comparison to others’ blessings (other’s “Bathshebas”, if you will), it is easy to forget the Lord’s mercy in our lives. Advent is a time set aside to wait expectantly for the incomprehensible act of mercy that Jesus was to us. As we wait for God’s greatest example of mercy to the world through Jesus, let’s work on extending mercy to each other, and ourselves. Let’s remember that, like in David and Bathsheba’s case, it is God’s mercy that brings us to Him.
About the Author: Maria lives in the Italian Market area of Philly with her husband John. Born & raised in the Caribbean coast of Colombia, She loves salsa dancing, the ocean, and warm weather.
Art: Istvan Sandorfi, Madeline