Bathsheba: Study Guide
Women and the Old Testament: Jesus’ Heart for Women Who’ve Suffered Abuse
Week 5: Monday March 22nd- Sunday March 28th
Important note for the group leader:
If you decide to use this guide as a jumping off point for group discussion, it may be a good idea to first ask the participants to commit to a confidentiality agreement that makes sense for your group. It may also benefit the group to set up some ground rules about listening, respect and affirmation of experiences and feelings. This content can be incredibly personal and potentially re-traumatizing for some. A warning about the potential for traumatic topics should be given and discernment and reflection should be encouraged for each group member to be certain they are ready to process this kind of information in a group setting. My prayer is that you grow greatly and feel deeply encouraged by the material in this study. And that each person who participates feels more seen, known and loved by God in the process!
Thank you for giving us eyes to see and ears to hear Bathsheba’s story. Thank you that you speak to us through scripture to reveal truth, insights and even warnings for us today that help us live more fully into the wholeness you offer us. We pray that this time together would be honoring to you and would be an encouragement to each one of us. We pray for our hearts and our minds, that you would align us with you. We pray that during this time of discussion that you would increase our sensitivity to your voice and our sensitivity to each other's needs. Help us to be better listeners and better advocates and that we would be united with the Holy Spirit as we learn from Bathsheba’s story and apply the new insights and awareness you have for us into our daily lives and ministries. Amen.
This week we learned about Bathsheba, a woman has often been labeled a vixen and a woman who manipulated her way into power by having an affair with the King. However, what we learned this week through careful exegesis has revealed that her story is much more complex than that. She was a woman who was victimized by the misuse of power by King David. She suffered the tragic loss of her husband, home, and child. She survived despite the odds to become an influential woman in the royal court as she became the Queen Mother to King Solomon later in life.
Here are seven takeaways from the study this week:
- Bathsheba was not a vixen but a victim. She was spied on by King David from above while she bathed outside as was typical for the time and place. She was taken by David’s messengers and forced into sexual relations with him.
- Bathsheba had no voice or say in what she experienced and we know little of her life before she was taken by David. What about her family? How traumatized was she? Her experience of not having control of her circumstances was likely traumatic and terrifying.
- Consequences of entitlement can lead to violence and the pain of many. David’s action to do damage control over the situation of Bathsheba’s pregnancy led to death and the destruction of the lives of many.
- Bathsheba has become a scapegoat for David’s sin over the ages. By not calling out David’s sin of abuse of power directly it has left room for churches to blame Bathsheba as a manipulative vixen that caused an otherwise good man to make a mistake.
- By using the term “affair” instead of “rape” for the Bathsbea and David story, we have allowed for similar incorrect labeling when powerful men manipulate less powerful women today and force them into sexual relations through threats, coercion or fear.
- Later in life, David keeps his promise to Bathsheba and her son Solomon becomes the next King.
- Bathsheba became the first Queen Mother of Israel, a prominent influencer of her son Solomon and taught him many lessons and leadership principles that made their way into the book of Proverbs, potentially even the famous Proverbs 31.
Questions for group discussion:
- What stood out to you the most about Bathsheba’s story this week? What did you learn that was new to you?
- Do you think Bathsheba was afraid when she found out she was pregnant? What kind of risk would it have been for her to tell the guards to let the king know? What other fate could have become her reality?
- What do you think the significance of Bathsheba and Nathan’s relationship is? How was he an advocate for Bathsheba?
- How is the story of Bathsheba and David an opportunity to discuss the dynamics of power and consent today?
- Why do you think that the church has often tended to place more blame on Bathsheba and has been quick to dismiss David’s responsibility?