"And David sent messengers and took her. And she came in to him, and he lay with her - for she was purified from her uncleanness. Then she returned to her house."
II Samuel 11: 4, Amplified Bible
"From a Woman's Point of View" Part I
"Too many women in too many countries speak the same language - silence"
How have I used my voice to speak for those who have no voice?
Have I ever been silenced because of my gender?
"Tis woman's strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice. It would be subversive of every human interest that the cry of one-half the human family be stifled…The world has had to limp along with the wobbling gait and one-sided hesitancy of an (individual) with one eye. Suddenly the bandage is removed from the other eye and the whole body is filled with light. It sees a circle where before it saw a segment. The darkened eye restored, every member rejoices with it."
Anna Julia Cooper
"I am to gratify his pleasure and nurse his child, I am a piece of household furniture. I am a woman."
From The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy
Wife of author Leo Tolstoy
Before anyone at Transformation Garden jumps to any false notions about today's devotional, I want to begin with an explanation - the first time I've done such a thing here in the garden.
A great deal of thought and prayer have gone into today's devotional, including the quotes I've chosen to share with you. The reason is that as I've talked with female friends through the years, and whenever the discussion has turned to the area of how women are portrayed in the Bible, I've been greatly disturbed to find that many women have an almost hostile view of the Scripture's apparent demonizing of women. And yet, over the last two years as we have studied the lives of Biblical women, beginning with Eve, I've found God's Word to be life-affirming and empowering to women. While we have traversed some extremely rocky terrain, remember the "silencing" of the Levite's concubine by the tribe of Benjamin, I for one have come away from some of the most tragic stories of women recognizing that God's reason for including these stories in His Word has to do with His desire to see all His children, both women and men, treated with respect and with the equality He intended when in the original garden home, God created two people, male and female, who were to be helpmates to one another. And in case we have forgotten, "helpmates" means to bring completeness to another. How sad that the crumbling walls of God's intended relational harmony have even entered into religious arenas where submitting to another can at times be used by one sex to dominate over another, even going so far as to demean God's intended empowerment of His daughters.
This is why today, and for the next few days, as we look at the relationship between David and Bathsheba, I want to do so from a woman's point of view, and by doing so, it is my prayer that both God's daughters and sons will take a second look at a story that has often been conveyed in a way that leaves women bearing the continual burden of seductress of helpless men who just don't have what it takes morally to resist the wiles of feminine charms.
Not long ago, a movie called The Last Station was released which was a depiction of the end of Leo Tolstoy's life. Interestingly, this famed author, who produced such literary greats as War and Peace and Anna Karenina, was, for many years almost hailed as a martyr because of his marriage to Sophia whom I quote above. After doing research into a most unflattering depiction of this woman, historians found that the description of Sophia as a shrew who was perennially at war with Tolstoy, was not borne out by the facts, whatsoever. Come to find out, the maligning of Sophia was instituted, particularly, by Vladimir Chertkov, a vain man who had designs on setting himself up as the person closest to Tolstoy. It seems his smear campaign, with Sophia as the target, led to many misconceptions down through history, when in fact, Sophia was the person who handled all of Tolstoy's publishing affairs, as well as all their family's business affairs and at the same time she single-handedly raised a large family. As it turns out, Sophia had an incredible capacity for hard work, nursing and educating thirteen children while being a publisher, translator as well as photographer.
You might ask, "How, for so many years, could history get this heroine's story wrong?" Come to find out, the ability of a few to suppress reality left only a story that bore no resemblance to the truth.
I share this example with you for I believe that for many years, God's Word has been read with some of the same biases that ended up besmirching the reputation of Sophia Tolstoy. The story of David and Bathsheba is one of the best examples, right up there with tales propagated about Mary Magdalene. These false impressions of Biblical women have left us with false ideas, to say the least.
As I was studying our text today, II Samuel 11: 4, I was aided in my survey of the text by several different Bible commentaries, and I was in for a huge surprise! Here's what one group of all male commentators said about the situation described in today's text, II Samuel 11: 4, "There's no indication that David's messengers took Bathsheba by force." I find that statement interesting! Especially when we studied this week that the Hebrew word for "took" means "to seize, to carry away, or to use." That doesn't sound to me like a woman going of her own free-will. But there's more. The commentators continued: "Bathsheba was beautiful, and she was not beyond temptation. Possibly she was flattered by the overtures made to her by the king, and yielded herself to David without resistance." And just where does a phony idea like this come from? Where in our text today do we read that there was even a hint of flattery that turned the head of Bathsheba? I don't find it - and thus, a false idea, I've heard more than once, that Bathsheba bathed outside in full-view to trap David into lusting after her, finds its way into the pages of respected commentaries and into recorded literature whether there's a morsel of truth in it or not.
Over the next few days, I want us to look at this story from Bathsheba's point-of-view, from a woman's point-of-view. And to all of the wonderful men who come to the garden, I encourage you to put yourselves in Bathsheba's shoes and think for a moment how this young, beautiful woman may have felt when the king's messengers arrived at her door and said, "You are coming with us!"
See you on Monday! There's more to this story - a lot more, for when the king says, "Come now," What are you to do?
"Blessed is she who touches mystery, who is not caught and held only by what she knows.
How can she know the ways of the sun if she does not know the ways of the moon?
Sunflowers need not count their seeds; nor bees reveal the secrets of their hives.
She goes in peace who listens to God well. The planet turns on one long, perfect tone, and woman's song echoes the planet's turning.
She is secure in her Father's love… Blessed is she who learns of God's mysteries."
Caryl A. Porter
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.