Bathsheba is named in the line of Christ, not by name, but by her relationships, “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife” (Matthew 1:6). Here we get a clue about the story of Bathsheba. She had been Uriah’s wife, but she became the mother of Solomon by David, the king of Israel, who was not her husband.
To tell this story, we need to start with Uriah. Uriah had known David before he was king. Uriah was one of David’s “thirty mighty men” (see 2 Samuel 23:39 and 1 Chronicles 11:41). These men helped David become king and they were his most loyal warriors. Uriah had been with David since he was a young man he fighting in the desert and living in caves.
When our story begins, Uriah is away fighting battles for King David. Scripture tells us, “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army . . . but David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1). The author shines a spotlight on the fact that this is the time when kings go off to war, but David stayed home. This ought to send off warning bells. David’s place was with his army, but he stayed home.
Instead, David paced the flat roof of his palace in the evening. Looking down, he noticed a woman bathing. Bathsheba was bathing in her private, enclosed courtyard. She was going about her business, but David was in a position to see. And he liked what he saw. From his height on the palace roof, he turned the wife of his friend into an object for his own pleasure. David sent someone to find out who she was, they reported back that she was Bathsheba, “the wife of Uriah the Hittite” (2 Samuel 11:3).
David knew who she was when he sent for her. Sometimes when this story is told, Bathsheba is described as a seductress, or an adulteress, because she came when David sent messengers to get her. But I don’t think this is true at all. Remember, her husband was away fighting a war, and the king’s messengers came to her house. I imagine she expected to hear news about her husband. Her husband was an old friend of the king, one of his most loyal leaders, I don’t think she had any idea what was coming next.
The Bible tells us, “she came to him, and he slept with her” (2 Samuel 11:4). That’s not a lot of information. This was not consensual sex. David raped Bathsheba. He was the king. He sent messengers to bring her to his palace. Her husband was gone. She found herself alone in a room with the king who fully intended to have sex with her.
This story is told in Scripture to tell us something about King David, it isn’t meant to tell us Bathsheba’s point of view, so we have to try to understand her context. We are only given her facts: David sent messengers to get her, he slept with her, she went back home, she conceived and sent word to David that she was pregnant.
David tried to cover up his sin. He sent for Uriah to come home on leave. David encouraged Uriah to go home and spend time with his wife, but Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with the king’s servants instead. David questioned him: why wouldn’t he go home and enjoy some time with his wife? Uriah answered that the king’s men were sleeping in tents, how could he go home and leisurely make love to his wife? He would not do such a thing while his king was still on the throne! David was getting frantic, he got Uriah drunk, but still Uriah would not leave the palace.
David sent Uriah back to the war with a message for his commander: put Uriah in the fiercest part of the fighting and then leave him unprotected. David ordered Uriah’s death. Bathsheba mourned her husband’s death. Then David brought her to his house and made her his wife and she gave birth to his son.
David would not go unpunished. Nathan, a prophet of the Lord, confronted David and told him that Bathsheba’s son would die. This baby, conceived by David while Bathsheba was still married to Uriah, would bear the brunt of David’s sin. Let’s review the situation from Bathsheba’s point of view: She was a woman of honor married to one of the king’s closest friends. She was raped by her king. She became pregnant. Her king ordered her husband’s death. Now she was married to the king and her child had died.
“David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son and they named him Solomon” (2 Samuel 12:24). Solomon would become Israel’s next king, and his name, alone with David’s is listed in the line of Christ, along with his mother, who had been Uriah’s wife.