Friday, March 20, 2009

Bathsheba, Queen Mother to King Solomon

(painting of King Solomon, the son of Bathsheba and King David)

I don’t know why we overlook some of the vices of Old Testament women but focus on the scandals of others. Take Bathsheba. Most of the writing about her (and the art that portrays her) deals only with that one infamous day when King David sees her bathing on a rooftop and enlists his authority to gain the object of his desire.

And yet, there is so much more to this story. It isn’t simply about a king who sees a woman, summons a woman, seduces a woman and renders her pregnant and husbandless. While these offenses are staggering, we miss the whole point of the story if we don’t look further.

The prophet Nathan comes to David and tells him a little story, knowing that a parable sometimes convicts the heart far better than a tirade.

And David repents.

God hears his cry for mercy and forgives him.

Even though God is merciful, he demands recompense. David is heart broken when he realizes that his new son will pay the price for David and Bathsheba’s sin.

True to his word, God takes the life of the baby boy, but God blesses David once again, and we get a glimpse into the full plan of salvation.

All of us are part of fallen humanity. All of us have been born into sin and then added our own personal sin on top of that. We must repent, as David did. We will receive forgiveness, as David did. We must make restitution, as David did.

And God will bless us, as He did David.

It all pivots on the death of an innocent son. Indeed, a very high price to pay for sin.

But if this story reveals for us some of the mystery of salvation, then maybe Bathsheba reveals a few secrets about the Mother of the Son.

Bathsheba is given another son who is destined to be a great king. A son dies because of sin, and now a son lives because of blessing. And that son assumes the throne.

Here’s an interesting thing about ancient civilizations, including this one. Because the king had many brides, a woman did not receive the title of queen until her son took the throne. The queen was not married to the king, because there were far too many wives vying for such a title. And they couldn’t all be called queen. Actually, the position of queen was held by the king’s mother. She was known as the queen mother. And so it was with Bathsheba. When Solomon was crowned king, his mother became the queen. Not Michal. Not Abigail. Not any of the other wives. Just Bathsheba.

As a former Evangelical Protestant, this was a great help to me in understanding how I can say, Hail, Holy Queen – without choking on the words.

If Mary’s Son has become the King of Kings (of both heaven and earth) then the Mother has become the Queen of heaven and earth.

And if this King assumed the throne, wouldn’t his greatest joy be to receive his Mother to Himself and bestow upon her the same kind of honor earthly kings give to their mothers?

The Queen Mother always intercedes for the people. She has influence with the King. And she has at her disposal many kingdom treasures, which she is authorized to dispense. (Sounds like Marian Theology to me.)

The next order of business for an earthly king, after taking the throne and naming his mother the queen, was to take a bride to himself.

Guess what, Church? You are the lucky bride! And He will come again for you.

While it is tempting to wallow in the scandal that typifies the story of Bathsheba, we actually miss the most important lessons of all if that is all we remember. As with most of the Old Testament stories, the New Covenant is hidden in Old Covenant, and the Old Covenant is fulfilled - and revealed - in the New.

Bathsheba and Mary, one woman pointing us to The Woman.


1 comment:

  1. You started out talking about David repenting. And that reminds me of

    Romans 4: 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

    And that leads me to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Wherein, we present ourselves to God, with nothing in our hands, no works, but only the proper disposition of humility, repentance and most of all, faith.

    And I believe this is the point St. Paul was making.


    De Maria