Marriage to one of King David’s special soldiers is a daily challenge for the beautiful Bathsheba. She loves her husband, Uriah, but he is gone at war for months at a time. Years of longing for a child to love have only led to the conclusion that she is barren. With an absentee husband and no hope of motherhood, Bathsheba struggles daily with loneliness and discontent…until a chance meeting with King David. Charming and handsome, the king quickly fills an empty place in Bathsheba’s desolate heart. She fights her feelings, as does he. Both lose the battle when the king succumbs to temptation and sends for her. A night of passion leads to consequences neither could have imagined --- consequences that will affect the future of the kingdom, a baby, and a loyal soldier and husband.
The regret Bathsheba feels over her night with King David pales in comparison with the fear coursing through her. She pens a message to him.
As the last word dried on the page, Bathsheba read the message through blurred vision. I am with child.
She does not know how the king will respond, if he chooses to respond at all. She only knows her adultery will likely lead to shame, humiliation, and the death of herself and the child she carries. She deserves no better. She sinned against the God she loves, betrayed the husband she loves, dishonored herself and her family. Unless the wise and handsome king can figure out a solution, Bathsheba’s life is over.
King David’s heart and mind are strained with trials and emotions. He grieves for his favorite wife, Abigail, who died in childbirth; grapples with the guilt of not joining his army in battle; handles constant disputes among his numerous wives and children; and desperately longs for Uriah’s wife. Like Bathsheba, he regrets the sin of their one-night tryst, vowing it will never happen again. But one night was all it took. When he receives her message, he knows he could be ousted as king, rejected by his people.
Desperation leads to a plan. He calls Uriah home from the war, assuming he will lay with his wife. All will believe Bathsheba is pregnant by her husband. But the clever king underestimates Uriah’s loyalty. During wartime, soldiers are supposed to deny themselves the pleasures of women, even their own wives. Uriah does not visit Bathsheba during his brief hiatus. Panicking, King David sends him back with a message for Joab, his nephew and army commander.
With a heavy sigh that did nothing to lift the millstone-sized weight in his chest, he dipped the quill into the ink and penned a letter to Joab.
Put Uriah in the front line, where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.
The unsuspecting Uriah delivers his own death message to Joab. Shortly after, his body is brought back for a funeral. King David publicly offers to be Bathsheba’s kinsman redeemer. They are married a week after the funeral, believing they have hidden their sin beneath a veil of lies. But God’s eyes pierce that veil, and he reveals the consequences to his prophet Nathan, David’s advisor.
King David and Bathsheba face the grief of losing their first child, agonizing over that loss and their sin. With penitent hearts, they seek and gain the Lord’s favor. Trials and heartache come their way in many forms, but their love grows ever stronger.
Bathsheba’s story is one of loneliness and love, faith and sin, repentance and forgiveness. Author Jill Eileen Smith once again displays her flair for molding years of Bible research into a compelling novel that triggers a gamut of emotions. She then wraps the package beautifully with clever dialogue, exquisite imagery and three-dimensional characters. Whether you are familiar with King David or have never read a single Bible passage, you will find this third book in The Wives of King David a delectable treat.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on March 1, 2011