“Place Uriah at the front of the fiercest battle, and then pull back from him so that he will be struck down and die.” (2 Samuel 11:15)
Last week I read Psalm 89:20-37. If you follow the Lectionary, you did too. Maybe you used that Psalm for a sermon or ignored it. Maybe, when you read Psalm 89, it was for the first time.
Or, if you’re in the majority of the world’s card-carrying adults, you don’t know about or don’t care about the Lectionary. Regardless, let me refresh your week-old memory of the Psalms (or share a completely new verse with you):
Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. (Psalm 89:35)
The “I” used twice in the above verse is the very Holy “I.” Which is to say, depending on your pronoun proclivities, the “I” is God him or her self. And this one verse is representative of last week’s Psalm lesson. Word after word and verse after verse, Psalm 89 depicts the Holy gushing about King David. It’s almost like the Almighty sits on the fifty yard line, waving an oversized We’re #1 foam finger, while David strides, tall and proud, toward the middle of the field. Continue reading →
2 Samuel 11:1-15 – the 9th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for July 29, 2012
“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle…”
Lust. Sex. Deceit. Scheming. Murder. Ah, it must be the Bible!
David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
Who was Uriah the Hittite? Was he merely collateral damage in the war of lust King David surrendered to before any royal, internal battle was waged?
Uriah . . .
Married Bathsheba, though in the Bible’s stark tale, the two never share a scene together in any verse.
Served as a soldier, one who wielded a weapon when a king or general demanded action.
Was a Hittite, able to claim a specific homeland and lineage.
Had a Hebrew rather than a Hittite name, meaning Yahweh Is A Light.
Only a little more could be said about this warrior servant. However, the remaining sparse details chronicled in the Bible are troubling. Indeed, the fateful, final details about Uriah were and are an embarrassment for believers, whether Jewish or Christian. David—anointed by God—had raped Bathsheba (is it fair to wield such a despicable word?) and then schemed to deceive the Hittite about his princely indiscretions. Correction, David’s crowning opprobrium.
The king encouraged Uriah to spend a night with Bathsheba. Yahweh Is A Light did not. The king then plied the Hittite with an ancient version of a bottomless glass of whiskey, thinking the soldier, like millions of soldiers before and after him, would stagger home, tumble into bed and—it wouldn’t matter what happened next—remember or never remember if he screwed his already screwed-up wife. Instead, as before, Yahweh Is A Light settled near David’s door. A good soldier, even drunk as a skunk, guarded his king.
One scheme remained. David concocted a letter—to be carried by the victim himself—to set in motion events leading to Bathsheba’s husband’s death. The words of the king sent to Uriah’s commander were as callous as any ever scratched on papyrus (or typed from a keyboard): “Set Yahweh Is A Light in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”
David demanded that blood-soaked order.
Bathsheba never told her husband the truth of her rape (or, more politely, her royal seduction). Off Yahweh Is A Light hurried, back to war, his wife as silent as the child growing in her womb. Continue reading →