Jill Eileen Smith’s Wives of King David series finishes strong with Bathsheba, the most famous of King David’s wives. She may have been his greatest lady love (and with King David, I use that term loosely), but she is also his most famous downfall. Over the years, I have read this story often wondering—did Bathsheba have a choice? How did she fall about this? How did it really affect David? Why was she bathing on the roof? And how does Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah” fit into all this? (It doesn’t. However, Cohen does reference the David/Bathsheba story in the song.)
Bathsheba is an intimate look at a king, who was grieving the death of his beloved wife, Abigail (who readers met in the previous Wives of King David book, Abigail) and makes some poor choices—not to go off to war, to have an affair with Bathsheba, to kill her husband. Many of us who grew up in church are familiar with the downward spiral that led to the downfall of the House of David (and redemption through Bathsheba and David’s second child, Solomon, from who the Messiah would come).
What I like about this story is that Smith takes those questions and offers a narrative, while keeping true to the biblical accounts. On this side of heaven, we will never truly know if Bathsheba had a choice (I don’t think she did, but Smith’s Bathsheba did have a choice) or how Bathsheba truly felt about her husband, Uriah the Hittite. But I love that Smith puts flesh on this tragic story, and shows the beauty that comes from ashes.
Perhaps the most poignant scene is Nathan the Prophet’s confrontation with King David. Truly, King David’s response to the prophet is beautifully written. It is also gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. However, despite David’s flaws, this scene is one that truly shows he is a man after God’s own heart.
The whole series is remarkable and provides depth into the women that surrounded King David—Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba. For interesting and insightful reading, check out Bathsheba (and the other wives as well.)
*Available March 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.*