The fascinating and perplexing story of this love triangle is narrated in II Samuel 11. Interestingly, there are many parallels between this story and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. In both, an apparently godly man of prominence in the community has a secret affair with a married woman resulting in a child. He admits his guilt publically at the end of the story. In Hawthorne’s novel, each of the main characters is missing one key component of a balanced personality. In the case of Pastor Dimmesdale it is the will, Hester is short on intellect, and her husband Chillingworth shows little emotion. (An alert reader will see the same deficiencies even more obviously in Dorothy’s friends in The Wizard of Oz.) Hawthorne may have deduced these character flaws in the original Biblical account since it is obvious that David’s problem is indeed a will too weak to resist temptation, and Uriah does seem to be lacking in emotional content. Bathsheba is somewhat of a cipher, and we don’t know if her actions result from the cold calculations of a scheming temptress wanting to better her situation, or just reflect someone willing to “go with the flow” of events.
Each 12″ x 16″ collage in my 2007 triptych pictured below centers in on one of the three personalities in a somewhat cartoonish fashion.
David’s dual nature is clearly pictured here. This story presents a powerful lesson in sincere repentence followed by God’s forgiveness. Some people have a major problems with the fact that David is called “a man after God’s own heart” despite his adulterous behavior and subsequent cover-up. In addition to the obvious observation that all human beings are sinners, I found some comments of C. S. Lewis helpful in this regard. He categorized sins into two types: carnal and spiritual. The former sins (such as lust, gluttony, drunkenness, etc.) only lead people to become more like a beast. In contrast, “spiritual” sins (such as spite, envy, idolatry, etc.) are much more dangerous since they cause one to become more demonic. David’s sins, unlike those of his predecessor King Saul, were carnal in nature. It should also be pointed out that the rest of David’s career as king will be overshadowed by personal tragedies in his own family, beginning with the death of his son with Bathsheba. Sin, even when completely forgiven, is still accompanied by inescapable consequences.
Bathsheba is pictured as a literal “bathing beauty” along with others. The inner workings of her mind remain as much a mystery as those of Mona Lisa.