The story has been well-known around the world for generations. Bathsheba was bathing in her garden; King David caught a glimpse of her from his rooftop; they have an affair; a baby is conceived; Uriah is killed; Bathsheba becomes queen; the prophet, Nathan, publicly accuses David of his sin; the baby dies; and then Solomon is born.
But what if it wasn’t an affair? What if this is actually a story of rape, redemption, and love? What if, most importantly, this is a story of an all-powerful, all-knowing, merciful God?
Angela Hunt’s book, Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty, takes a more in-depth look into the supposed “love story” of King David and the beautiful Bathsheba, who is often portrayed as a woman who used her beauty to betray her husband and sleep with the king. But in Hunt’s book, Bathsheba is actually the victim of rape, an object desired and possessed by the king and then forced to leave behind the life she has always known.
When I first began Hunt’s book, I felt like she might be taking the story too far. After all, would God call a rapist a “man after His own heart”? So, of course, I had to consider what the scriptures have to say on the matter. I began to see that Hunt’s perspective seemed entirely possible.
Hunt has obviously researched extensively the historical customs of the day, and it was not uncommon for a woman to bathe in the privacy of her own garden. Did Bathsheba know that the king could see her? Possibly. But it is just as likely that she had no idea that she was in his sight. Could a king just take a woman out of her own home, do what he wanted to with her, and not be held accountable for his actions? Of course. In fact, we don’t really see much about Bathsheba in scripture but are constantly pointed to King David to the point that the prophet, Nathan, comes to his court and calls him out publicly for his sin.
Hunt does an excellent job of painting a different picture of Bathsheba – one where she is stripped of her home and forced to be the wife of a man who raped her. But Bathsheba’s beauty is not just skin-deep. Hunt portrays this woman, whom God allowed to be in the line of Jesus, as someone who looked beyond her own circumstances and showed grace, compassion, and love to the very ones who hurt her the most.
I think that Hunt does an incredible job of portraying a story of hope in a life of war and crises. She also does an excellent job of taking King David down off of his pedestal and showing him as a broken, sinful man, desperately in need of a Savior. And despite the horrible amount of pain and suffering this man caused others, he is still able to be redeemed and named “a man after God’s own heart.” What hope that gives each of us!
The only real problem I had with this book was the author’s portrayal of Prophet Nathan. I researched a little on my own, and I could find nothing to support the author’s claims that Nathan was also in love with Bathsheba. To me, this made Nathan look like a weak man, who was incapable of seeing past Bathsheba’s outward beauty. I also was uncomfortable with the way the author portrayed Nathan’s visions from God. I don’t see anything in scripture that supports her theory of this, and it seemed to lessen the impact, in my opinion, of how God spoke to his prophets.
Overall, though, I am always pleased to recommend a book that points the reader back to scripture and makes one dig a little deeper into God’s Word.
*I was given this book in exchange for my honest review from Bethany House Publishers.