GRACE ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS

It’s Sunday. There are rumors that people have seen Jesus, but it’s all Mr. and Mrs. Cleopas can do to put one foot in front of the other in their monumental, shattering grief, to get back home to Emmaus. For three days they’ve been shell-shocked, stunned, and paralyzed with heartbreak. Now, there’s nothing left to do but go home.

It’s a seven-mile walk, perhaps made to seem longer by what they’re about to face. People told them not to follow that Rabbi. People told them not to throw caution to the wind, not to put all their eggs in one basket, not to commit until they’d seen something incontrovertible. But they had done those things. They’d left home and followed. Now it was over, and they were slinking home. They hoped no one would see them.

Someone did. Someone caught up to them and walked alongside them.

“What are you talking about? Why are you sad?” he said.

Mr. Cleopas: “Do you live under a rock?”

Jesus: “What?”

Mr. and Mrs. Cleopas can’t believe this man doesn’t know what has been going on. They both start talking at once!

“You know, Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet. He did amazing miracles. He spoke God’s word! And they killed him! He was crucified! Seriously, you haven’t heard about this?”

Imagine there’s a pause here. Jesus waits for them to give up their personal feelings. He knows what those feelings are, but he wants them to own them—to say them out loud—so he can correct them by grace.

If you’d been there, you would have been shocked by what they said. They said, “We hoped he was going to deliver us from Roman occupation.”

This is not the way people grieve someone they love. When your friend dies, you don’t say, “I hoped he’d be the one who would take me to Disneyland,” or “I hoped he would run for Governor one day.” When your friend dies, you cry out, “I loved him so much!” or “My heart is broken!” or “I can’t believe he’s gone!”

No love here. These two were disciples in the sense that they followed Jesus around. But their hearts weren’t transformed. They were groupies with an interest in, but not a correct vision of Christ. They knew what they wanted him to do for them, but they hadn’t yet grasped what he intended to do for the world. They didn’t know him yet.

Hypothetically speaking, if I were to die, and if in that moment I was able to overhear one of my children say something like this, “Wow, this is so sad. I was hoping she’d be the one to take me to Europe,” I think I’d be so angry I’d jump out of my deathbed and strangle that ungrateful child! All he’s thinking is what he can get. He’s not loving me. He’s not thinking about me at all!

Happily, Jesus doesn’t jump down anyone’s throat. As always, he meets them where they are and he pours grace over the whole situation. Beginning with the Old Testament, he teaches them about Messiah—who he is, what he will do, how he will suffer, what he will accomplish.

You can almost see the Cleopases going, “Oh! I get it! Messiah won’t beat up on the Romans, he’ll save his people from their sin! He’ll suffer to reconcile us to God!”

Then, when they’re prepped with the Old Testament understanding, Jesus breaks bread before them, and in that action, shows the palms of his hands. Can’t you see the grin on his face as they look from the scars of the wounding up to his now-recognized face. Their mouths drop open, they gasp, they move toward him. And he’s gone.

Shouting and hugging each other, they completely and utterly understand! They know who he is, what he’s done, and they have to tell someone! Not wasting a single moment, these two who were plodding the long seven miles just a little earlier, are now entirely re-energized and are rushing back as quickly as they can.

They burst into the gathering and shout, “We have seen JESUS!!!”

And then, suddenly, he is there. Pandemonium erupts, so much so, Jesus has to tell everyone to settle down. He says, “Peace, guys,” and again, you can see the smile, the love for these followers.

(Don’t you hate those old fashioned pictures and movies where a staid group of middle-aged men wrapped in yards and yards of sheeting are intoning moderately that someone may have seen Jesus, and then a ghosty figure appears and in a sepulchral bass rumbles, “Peace,” as if these weren’t real people at the very instant of the most intensely emotional moment in the history of the world.)

My point is that Jesus doesn’t jump on the Cleopases for their lack of understanding. In fact, he seeks them out to show them who he is. What love is this—he seeks the lost, wandering disciple-who-doesn’t-quite-get-it. He doesn’t shove anything down their throats. He opens the Scripture. He walks with them and he talks with them and he breaks bread with them and shows them the Wounded Savior Risen Indeed.

So, unbeliever, there is no need for you to be afraid of approaching him. If you have a desire to know him, that’s evidence that he’s seeking you. He wants you to understand who he is so you can know him, so you can become one of his followers. And, believer, there’s no need for you to hang back because you haven’t totally understood him. He approaches you in his word. He wants you to know him.

My 100th Post

Over the last year, I’ve posted 1 “About” paragraph, 1 book review, 40 “Thoughts,” and 57 movie reviews.
It was Angelina Jolie’s fault. Her SALT drove me to such distraction, I felt I had to say something, and I haven’t shut up since.

It was Brian’s kindness that allowed me to do this—he makes the money that allows me to go to the movies oftener than once a week, including popcorn, Diet Coke, and $4/gallon gas to and from. (Yes, I figured it out, and yes, I think I’m going to need to either cut back, get a job, or take up extreme couponing.)

It was Ani’s flexibility in watching the kids that took away my worries about leaving so often for such indulgent Me-Time. (No, I have no guilt about this, just happiness that it’s available to me.)

It was the comments of my readers that made me happy to continue writing. (Thanks, Brenda and Patti and others.)

So, thanks everyone, for reading and especially for commenting.

Upcoming posts will be the continuing study of Proverbs 31 (hold onto your hats, people!) as well as Captain America, Cowboys & Aliens, and the winner of the I-Can’t-Believe-They’re-Really-Doing-This-To-The-American-Public Winner: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which you’ve got to believe me, I would not go to were it not starring the beautiful James Franco.

PROVERBS 31: 6, 7

Proverbs 31: 6, 7

“Give strong drink unto him who is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

Matthew Henry was no help to me here, so I’m just going to walk through what we’ve learned so far, and what this passage might be talking about.

(For those just joining us, we’re running on the assumption that King Lemuel is King Solomon, and that therefore, the woman giving this instruction to her son is Bathsheba. Obviously, if King Lemuel is not King Solomon, then one would have to look at this passage differently.)

Bathsheba has just told Solomon to stay away from fornication, because it will destroy him, and from strong drink, because it will dull the edge of his prodigious wisdom, and as a king, he needs to keep his wits about him.

Now, she tells him what to do with all the strong drink that’s been amassed. She doesn’t say to throw it out or to tell the ambassadors who brought it what sinners they are to even think of such a thing as bringing alcohol into the courts of Israel.

She says, “Save it for the person who is in great pain,” and she defines that person as one who is going through the agonies of end-of-life physical pain (ready to perish) as well as the person who is in great mental or emotional suffering (of heavy heart).

Trimillennial leap to 2011—anesthetics/anesthesia and Prozac fit here. But note, these pain relievers are not to be used to dull our reason or to keep us from our lives, but to deal with intense pain. To make it go away.

You’d think that this wouldn’t have to be said, but face it, Christians can be really extreme about some issues, and medicine is one of those issues. There are Christians who won’t have anything to do with medicine at all. They believe, I guess, in blasting through intense pain on their own.

I have actually heard people say that, for example, a woman should suffer through the pains of childbirth sans epidural because God decreed that “in pain shall you bear children.” This is a great example, by the way, of the need to determine whether a certain account in Scripture is descriptive or prescriptive. Here, God is simply describing what Eve is going to encounter in childbirth. He is not telling her she must endure that pain in order to maintain her holiness.

Certainly if Adam could find some root that would dull the pain, that would be a good thing. (The corollary to the idea that women shouldn’t take pain meds in childbirth is that Round-Up is of the devil.) (Teeny side thought–if Eve is like any woman I know, she’s not really going to care about the amount of pain; she’s going to say, “What? I’m going to have a baby?!?!!!! Thank you, Jesus!)

While I have no trouble with women who want to go all Amazon Power Ninja and endure twelve hours of ripping contractions and two hours of pushing without “help,” I have a lot of trouble the instant this sort of pain marathon is codified into a holiness statute others feel they must meet.

Why, when we should be constantly, lavishly dealing in grace, grace, grace, do we feel a need to lay burdens on others neither we nor our mothers were able to bear? Why make it harder than it already is?

This present Proverbs passage is at the very least telling us that pain relief (whether for physical or mental/emotional suffering) is to be administered, and it’s a disaster that such a thing even has to be said.

Let’s go ahead and make the 2011 leap again, because the passage clearly deals with emotional suffering: “unto those that be of heavy hearts.” I have heard it said that there is “no such thing” as mental illness, because the mind is not physical and therefore can’t hurt. Call it something else, then, because when a person is suffering intensely so that there are serious manifestations of emotional need, something is wrong. Just because we can’t find it on a CT scan doesn’t mean it isn’t there, my goodness!

When these issues manifest in constant hand-washing, in day-long crying jags, in suicidal or homicidal thoughts, in the inability of the sufferer to understand his own environment, drugs are indicated, at least until such time that the person can organize his thoughts enough to have the proper therapy, whether life counsel, medical, or pastoral intervention.

Here, I’m going to come out and say that not every problem is a sin problem. Okay, maybe it’s a sin problem, but it might not be the sin of the person needing the care. A young woman who was raped, say, in her teens, who is now 29 and is just now manifesting a serious reaction to that event, has not sinned. But she may still need a ton of counseling and she may even need a little “strong drink” of the medical variety to help her through the process. The untrained, inexperienced-with-real-life pastor who keeps on and on and on at her to “confess all known sin” and “trust God” is missing the boat. This girl needs intense help, probably from a woman, probably a woman with at least an MD, at least a prescription pad. Yeah, yeah, sure, a woman with an MD and a Nouthetic Counseling certificate on her wall (Jay Adams signature required).

(Pause for long diatribe in readers’ minds about rampant Freudian mumbo-jumbo, psychobabble, soft-on-sin slippery-slopers.)

Back to Thought:

We are harder on ourselves and our fellow humans than God is. We make people power through without help. Bathsheba says, “Give the girl a Xanax.”

Give the poor soul some anti-depressants to calm him down so he can take a more settled look at what the situation is. There are vitamin deficiencies, sleep deprivations, stress overloads and so forth that can cause the manifestations of serious mental disturbance. There are backstories of such magnitude that it is a wonder the person can walk around in a functional way.

If it’s manifesting in a physical way, there may be a physical (medical) help for it. Lightbulb: crying is physical. Inability to sleep is physical. Heart pounding anxiety is physical. Just sayin’.

(Pause for “worry is a sin!” comments to settle.)

Bathsheba is telling us that when someone is in pain, it is okay for them to have a bit of help in the medication department.

The next part is fascinating: “Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

We know that the word poverty can’t mean lack of economic means, because we’re talking about someone who is ready to perish or is suffering a great emotional distress. However, a peek at Strong’s Concordance tells that every other time this word is used, it does indicate actual economic poverty.

I’m going to go out on a limb and just say that it can’t mean lack of dollars here, because it doesn’t make sense to tell poor people to drink to forget their poverty. (Dr. Barrett says “It can’t mean what it can’t mean.”) That’s how alcoholics are made.

Perhaps Bathsheba is saying, “Look, the poor man is dying, and he can’t even afford strong drink to help him forget. You give it to him.” This meaning is far too shocking for us, though, because it would seem to indicate a governmental health care situation, than which nothing would be more shocking to my readers. Unless, perhaps, Solomon is to take this to mean that he personally should go around finding poor people to assist, rather than to do this in his governmental office as King.

(Pause. Deep breath. Laugh a little bit at people choking on Obamacare in Proverbs. Except that Obamacare would require the poor man to purchase the policy that would allow the King to bring him the bottle in his distress.) (Castigate self for referring to the President’s Health Care law as “Obamacare,” especially when it has done so much good for our particular family.)

Note also that the purpose of the strong drink for the poor sufferer is so that he will “forget” what is going on. The Old Testament version of Versed, that lovely medicine that allows you to go through horrible procedures, but then not remember it afterwards. The strong drink is not given so that the poor guy will be able to bear up under it, or power through, or cope with. It’s so that he can forget about it.

I bring this up because we are often extremely interested in being all Pilgrim-tough. I mean, they bore up through a winter in New England when half of them died! We, their spiritual children should be able to endure a colonoscopy without suffering PTSD. We should be able to have a man beat us, leave us, and never send a dollar without crying about it day and night! Wassamattayou? Can’t you cope??? Don’t you know anti-depressants are an expression of unbelief? (Side note: during all the time I took post-partum-depression help, I continued to believe in the inspiration of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, the Creation of man by the direct act of God, the incarnation and virgin birth…)

We are wired to tough things out, to heroically navigate the riptides of life, to bravely cope with physical and emotional disaster, when God, at least here, is kinder than that, and says, in effect: “You know what? Go ahead and escape for a while so you can forget your distress.”

This really has to mean strong drink or medical sedation, because, as anyone knows who has suffered great and intense pain (of either variety, physical or emotional), you can’t forget about it for one nanosecond. When people tell you to go out on the town to “get your mind off it,” it’s still all you’re thinking about. Intense pain can’t be forgotten without deep, peaceful sleep or without the pain actually being removed, whether by time, by healing, or by medical intervention in the form of drugs.

(Pause to consider writing a long paragraph about medical marijuana to relieve the intense pain of say, Stage 4 cancer, but then realize that while Morphine is certainly a righteous choice in such a situation, medical emjay is definitely beyond The Pale, so just stop it, Sharon, and I mean, right now!)

The poor man who is dying is going to die, so there is no after for us to consider, except that his family will be comforted that he died in peace, not in agonies of intense suffering.

The person who suffers from emotional anguish does come out on the other side. That is, as they say, after you can’t cry one more tear, you have to do something. True, and there will be a lot of work involved, a lot of prayer, a lot of counsel, a lot of reconciliation, a lot of plain ol’ moving on, going ahead. But what is allowed here is that in the moment of anguish, you can take a little wine for your heart’s sake. Call it wine. Call it ibuprofen with codeine, Imitrex, Xanax, whatever. All these things come out of God’s dirt, are manipulated into help by brilliant scientists, gifted by God to heal, to help, to give relief.

Now, obviously, I’m not condoning drugs-for-all any more than Bathsheba is. She’s saying, “Don’t you have any, but if someone is in great need, you give him some.”

That’s all she’s saying. That’s all I’m saying.

PROVERBS 31: 4, 5

Right next to Bathsheba’s admonition to Solomon to flee fornication, is her second bit of advice for men in high places: stay away from the hard stuff.

She says (verses 4 and 5): “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.”

Note that she isn’t telling him to forgo alcoholic drinks because kings should be old fashioned fuddy-duddies. She’s not saying, “You need to be a good example.” She’s not saying, “If you start with alcohol, you’re on a slippery slope to hemlock.”

She says, “Your reason will be dulled. You’ll make mistakes in judgment.”

She says, “The poor and voiceless—the afflicted—are counting on you to judge righteously.”

Note that she doesn’t say, “You’ll forget the law and forget how to punish people.” Instead, her concern is for the nobodies of the world, those for whom no one else will speak. If the king will not keep justice from being perverted, who will?

It’s impossible to think about this verse without thinking about those two afflicted young women whose fight at home escalated into a screaming battle about a baby. No one could calm either woman down, so the case was brought before King Solomon.

It must have been a startling scene: the King on his throne, and before him, two weeping, sobbing women both grasping for the same tiny child. Heart-rending. Humiliating. You want to look. You want to look away.

If ever anyone was voiceless, it’s the prostitute. And here are two of them. Today, some might say, “They’re whores. Neither of them should have custody of a child!” We might overlook the whys behind their pitiable condition. We might turn up our righteous noses.

Imagine this scene if Solomon is suffering from a hangover, his head throbbing. A man in that condition might, instead of seeking the wisdom of God to do righteously, just want to get these two women away from him. He might tell them to go away and work it out on their own. He might flip a coin. He might call Child Protective Services.

But, God has gifted King Solomon with supernatural wisdom. In fact, the story of Two Prostitutes and a Baby immediately follows the account of God’s giving this wisdom to Solomon. And, following his mother’s advice to stay away from wine, he’s clearheaded. He hasn’t dulled the edge of this wisdom. Stone-cold sober, he says, “Bring me a sword.”

No one imagines what is going to happen next. All they know is that two prostitutes have been brought before the King in a jurisdiction where prostitution is a capital crime, and the King has asked for a sword.

Does either lady have the sudden horror of realizing she is in the presence of the Supreme Judge of Israel? Does either woman suddenly shrink back in the terror that this man could order them both killed?

Perhaps this sudden horror is part of what impels one woman to say, “That one’s a baby killer! I’m just a victim here!” Is that what impels the other to devour her child with her eyes one last time before she is justly punished for her life of sin?

A soldier hands the king a sword. The women tremble in fear for their lives.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, King Solomon says, “Divide the child. Give one half to this woman and the other half to that woman.”

The woman who was not the child’s mother is suddenly relieved that she is not going to be killed for prostitution, and she foolishly babbles, “Yes! That’s it! Cut the baby in half!”

The other woman is not relieved. She knew she should be punished for her sins. Her only thought was for her baby’s life, and when the King says, “Divide the child,” out of her mother’s heart comes an involuntary, overwhelming, shriek of anguish.

“NO!”

And in that “No!” the truth is plainly shown to everyone.

Jesus said later, in a sort-of-similar situation: “Go and sin no more.” Solomon says, “Take the child.” The “Don’t be a prostitute anymore” part is probably understood. Her life has been saved by the supernatural wisdom of grace. She’s certainly not going back to that line of work.

Solomon looks to his right. There is a throne there. Bathsheba sits on it (I Kings 2:19). Long ago she had told him to stay away from strong drink because it might dull the edge of his reason when dealing with the poor and afflicted. Now she sees that, not only is he true to her advice, but God has gifted him with greater wisdom than she could ever have hoped for in a son. In a king.

Bathsheba sits on a throne in queenly garments. Servants attend her. Her every desire is granted. And yet, she remembers acutely what it is to lose a child conceived in sin. She knows, as these prostitutes know (but as others may not know), that a woman loves a baby conceived in a sinful act just as deeply, just as passionately, as any of her other children. The loss of that child in death hurts in precisely the same way as the loss of any other child.

I want to imagine Bathsheba rising from her throne. The women below are still trembling in fear, stunned by what has occurred, uncertain what is to come. I want to see Bathsheba fussing over the baby, declaring how lovely he is, and hugging his mother, maybe directing her to where she could receive some help, maybe a job in the palace kitchens.

Then—for who understands a bereaved mother like another bereaved mother—I want to see her kneeling next to the other woman, the crumpled heap of emotionally devastated woman sobbing her heart out on the throne room floor. This woman now has nothing—no husband, no child, no friend. And she has been exposed to the king and the entire court for what she is—a prostitute, deserving of punishment.

Who in the Kingdom of Israel—who in the whole history of humanity—would understand complete and utter humiliation of this kind better than the woman who has descended from her throne to offer grace.

Bathsheba says to her softly, “Young woman, let me tell you about redemption.”

THE WIND BLOWS WHERE IT WANTS

Those who know me best—Brian and Ani—are aware of the spiritual journey I have been agonizing through the past year or so. It is enough to say that for the past year, God has been tugging on my heart on a number of issues, and I think today the moment has come to speak out loud about three of them. (Alas that these points will not be alliterated!)

Here goes:

Today, while washing dishes, I noticed that outside my kitchen window a lot of movement was going on. Trees, grass, flowers, tomato plants were all blowing around. I thought, Glory to God—what a great breeze in the middle of this California summer! A soft sort of ache came over me to feel that breeze—to enjoy what was going on out there.

Then I realized that in order to feel what was going on “out there,” I would have to be “out there.” Or let the “out there” come “in here.” I needed to deal with the closed windows. I needed to Open Up.

And then, of course, I realized the answer to my year-long soul-ache: in order to know the Holy Spirit and feel His power, I needed to Open Up. An inner thought (don’t panic, no voices here) formed: you won’t get what you long for unless you fling open the windows. You cannot know the power of the Holy Spirit unless you completely and wholly go “out there.”

I knew—as I’ve known all through the past year—that this coming out requires me to say a few things out loud that I would rather not say out loud, because, I’ll admit it–I’m a coward, and I am afraid of losing the few friends I have. I don’t want people to think I’ve lost it, become heretical, or suffered a midlife crisis. However, since I can’t breathe in here and need to open up, I have to risk it.

What I mean is that, while to some people in my life, the following 3 statements will seem small and ridiculous, of the “duh” variety, to others (and they are very dear friends), these statements will be startling and possibly even friendship-ending. Aware of that, I proceed:

1. I believe that God has gifted some women to preach. This may or may not include me. Whether to other women, to groups of men and women, to the homeless couple stranded at Target the other day who needed Jesus, gasoline, and food, or in church before the congregation, possibly with three alliterated points. (Note: obviously not in the church I currently attend.)

In the Bible, there are many instances of women preaching. One of these women—Ms. Samaritan—was so effective in her evangelism that the whole city came out already believing to see Jesus. Speaking of this woman (who is always taught to be a five-time divorcee, when there are so many other possibilities) my freedom and privilege to speak the Gospel is also not hindered by my long-ago divorce. I am free in Christ to speak the Gospel of His saving grace, forgiveness of sin, freedom to live in holiness, to whomever God sends me, or whoever God sends me to. (Can’t figure out those whos and whoms, so I’ll use one of each.)

2. I believe that the Gifts of the Spirit are available to believers today. I believe in healings and tongues. I have not seen any healings, nor have I spoken in tongues. I have searched the scriptures and I have looked around at what God is doing today, and what He has always done. What He is doing is pouring out huge, massive blessing on those who are open to the Holy Spirit’s working, while here “in our circles” very little is going on, and we attribute this lack of blessing to our “being in the last days” a phrase right out of the New Testament when all the Gifts were going on all over the place. “Mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead!” (I am not prepared to discuss whether “Tongues” includes known languages, unknown languages, “prayer languages,” or whatever other languages. I am only stating that I believe the Gift is available, whatever that Gift may be. I do know godly–holy–people who regularly and fervently pray in tongues, and I don’t believe they mean “Spanish.”)

3. I believe that restrictions put on young believers of the touch not, taste not, handle not variety are for the protection of those indiscreet, unperceptive, immature young believers. Mature believers need to be in the business of evaluating and decision-making regarding these practical issues, whether these are issues of touch, taste, and handle, or listen, see, and play. What I’m saying here is that the days of nodding my head when people say that (for example) Christian Contemporary Music or movie-going or whatever are “of the devil” is simply over. I have never believed that those things were of the devil, but, sadly, I have nodded my head or changed the subject. I also (and I know this is shocking) play spider solitaire while I listen to law lectures and sermons. Somewhere someone told me card-playing was of the devil, so I want to bring this up. I also wear pants to church and have entirely given up hose. (Hose is a great example of the changing nature of what is “of the devil,” as it used to be “of the devil” to wear them, and later it was “of the devil” not to. Same for make-up, which is still sinful in some countries, but if you don’t wear it in the US, your face—always laughingly referred to as a “barn” in that stupid way some men have of belittling women in every possible way—needs painting.) At some point, I am getting Botox, which must be of the devil. Listen: Botulinum Toxin. It just sounds evil.

So, there it is. Preaching, Gifts, Restrictions. There’s more, but that’s enough for one post.

I have not lost my deeply-held Christian faith, nor have I embraced any weird heresy. I am still a five-point Calvinist who loves Arminians, a proud graduate of Bob Jones University (note, not a “survivor,” but a Proud Graduate) who was in the vanguard of transracial adoption among BoJos, and the mother of black and white children who hope to attend there, as God wills. I am still a Reformed believer who can’t stand sermons that leave out Jesus, the Cross, Justification, Sanctification. I am still (and even more so) hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

Nothing in my hand I bring—simply to His Cross I cling!

I am simply opening the windows and saying that those things we all sing every week: Spirit of God, descend upon my heart….Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me….He makes the lame to walk again, He causes the blind to see….Come, Holy Spirit, Come, Heavenly dove, stay right here with us, filling us with your love… ..Mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead, etc., might actually mean something, and if they do, I want some of that.

PROVERBS 31, post 3

“Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroys king.”

Bathsheba, speaking to Solomon here, says: “Don’t commit sexual sin. It will destroy you.”

It may be that Solomon is a young man—still a royal prince—and that his mother is giving him advice that he will someday need. Or, it could be that Solomon has ascended the throne, and as a young King, has come to his mother for advice.

Whatever Solomon’s status at the time, it doesn’t seem that Bathsheba had to work this one out with any long disclaimer about her lack of qualification for speaking to him. She doesn’t hem and haw about the fact that she’s just a woman, and that he should ask his father if he wants to know about how to be a king.

She didn’t need to look any farther than her own experience with King David to come up with this bit of advice, but if she had needed more to base her advice on, she need only have looked around the royal household. People like Amnon, Tamar, and Absalom lived there.

Another thing Bathsheba doesn’t do is to disqualify herself based on past failures. She doesn’t say, “Who am I to speak about sexual fidelity?”

She doesn’t waver from her position as Queen and Mother because of an event that occurred in the distant past. She gives her son the advice he needs.

However, in case, we need a little reminding about what this woman has gone through to gain a platform from which to speak, let’s take a little look at her life.

Bathsheba was the granddaughter of Ahithophel, David’s counselor. She was the daughter of Eliam, one of David’s Mighty Men, and she was the wife of Uriah, another of David’s Mighty Men.

So we can see that Bathsheba grew up either without a father and grandfather—if her mother raised her at home while the men were out being fugitives and bandits—or, if her mother tagged along as a groupie/cook with David’s rag-tag army, Bathsheba would have lived in caves and encampments during her formative years. She may have been one of the children taken by the Amalekites from Ziklag. Consider the horror of that for a moment! Ziklag is burned to the ground—everything is destroyed—and the women and children, including perhaps Bathsheba, her siblings, and her mother, are carried off by enemies.

Then, she marries one of the soldiers who rescued her. Perhaps she was married to Uriah because she fell in love with him, but it seems more likely that Uriah is older than she is, and I only think that because both he and her father are among the Mighty Men, so it is likely that the two of them are of the same generation. Of course, this wouldn’t have to be so. Mighty Men could come from different generations, but it is at least a possibility that the Uriah/Bathsheba marriage wasn’t a love match at all, but a good old-fashioned woman-as-property agreement between a couple of army pals.

David comes to the throne, and years pass. Uriah’s army career continues, and he is often deployed away from the next-door-to-the-palace home.

Uriah is always put up as a hero for not going home to sleep with Bathsheba when David calls him home for that exact purpose, but I have a hard time thinking that Bathsheba was all right with that. She’s overwhelmed with agonies at this point (she knows she’s preggers with David’s child), and the good husband ought to have gone home and covered up her difficulties by sleeping with her. Sex aside, she could have used some attention from this husband. Maybe if he hadn’t always put her second to his army buddies, she wouldn’t have been wandering around on the roof sans-a-robe.

Whatever Uriah’s possible lack of attentiveness to his wife, it is certain that Bathsheba suffered upon hearing of his death. Whether the marriage was happy or not is immaterial—this poor widow is pregnant, and the dates don’t match. Does she endure a state funeral for this national hero, listen to the King’s eulogy, sick at heart with grief, guilt, and fear: What if the King leaves her alone to bear her shame?

He doesn’t. He marries her.

Bathsheba now finds herself in the palace among a whole lot of women who know what’s what. They’re not ignorant of the progress of pregnancy, and there would surely be talk. The whole story would come out eventually.

It doesn’t. Somehow—probably loose clothes and seclusion—people are kept in the dark, or at least David is kept from understanding that he has a bill to pay. God sends Nathan with the tab.

Bathsheba endures childbirth. She bears a beautiful little boy. God brings judgment upon David in what must have seemed to Bathsheba most unfair. What about not visiting the sins of the fathers on the sons? This is the dark night of Bathsheba’s life. Her baby gets sick, worsens, dies, and she gets a taste of what agonies the human spirit can survive.

Then, God is gracious. Solomon comes, and the Lord loves him. Other sons are born to David and Bathsheba. She takes her place among the king’s wives as one trusted and loved. The boy Solomon grows. He is named as successor to his father.

When he realizes his destiny, he asks his mother, “How can I be a good king?”

Bathsheba’s whole life, all her experience, all her sorrow, all her love for her boy, says without hesitation: “Don’t give in to your lust. It will destroy you.”