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The Women of Jesus' Family Tree: Uriah's Wife (Bathsheba)

Community Group Study Guide — The Women of Jesus’ Family Tree: Uriah’s Wife (Bathsheba)
2 Samuel 11 and Psalm 51

Study Information:
This Advent Series we’ve been learning about God’s grace and favor for those who are overlooked by the world and impacted by the brokenness of sin. Matthew centered his reader’s attention on this truth in his genealogy of Jesus by highlighting five women in the family tree of Jesus. Typically genealogies focused solely on men. These five women were not part of the “matriarchs” like Sarah or Rebekah, rather four of the five were from a foreigners and each of the five were impacted by some level of sexual scandal. Each story also came at an important time in the redemptive history of Israel. Matthew desired his readers to know that God was faithful to his plan of redemption, faithful to work through sinful people and is gracious to those impacted by sin. In this study guide we will look at what Matthew was highlighting about Jesus by turning his reader’s attention to “Uriah’s Wife” who was named Bathsheba (Matthew 1:6).

Uriah’s Devotion
2 Samuel 23:39
Often the sin that causes the greatest amount of damage are the sings we commit against those we know and care about. Sin is always against God and against real people; sin is never harmless and it is never something that just impacts yourself.

Throughout the scripture we learn that King David was brave, faithful and a military genius in the ancient world. At times the Bible recounted his numerous victories and heroic acts. Towards the end of the story of David’s Kingship we get a list of his closest generals and warriors called his “mighty men.” 2 Samuel 23 lists 37 mighty men who were trained up by David and deployed into battle. These mighty men held off armies, defeated numerous enemies at a time and accomplished brave and heroic acts. You can read of accounts of them defeating giants, going face to face with lions and winning battles that were stacked against them. One such man was Uriah the Hittite. Uriah was actually the last of the 37 mighty men to be named and that is intentional by the author of 2 Samuel. It functions aș a reminder of Uriah’s devotion to King David and as a reminder to us of the sin that David committed against Uriah. 

Uriah was an outsider to Israel, born as a Hittite. Technically this made his wife, Bathsheba, a foreigner too. This becomes important for us because Uriah must have attached himself to Israel’s God by faith at some point to be part of Israel and to be part of David’s mighty men. Likely he saw something about Israel’s God and King David that drew him to put his allegiance there. Over time Uriah rose up the ranks of David’s army and was counted among his mighty men. This is important for us because Uriah was not unknown to David and was likely highly devoted to the king which makes King David’s betrayal even more dark than it can appear at first reading of 2 Samuel 11. Uriah was known and devoted to David and the people of God. 

David’s Betrayal
2 Samuel 11
King David’s betrayal of Uriah, Bathsheba and God began with him neglecting his responsibilities. It was a time when he should have been at battle with his armies and it was late one afternoon, while he had been resting on his couch, he rose up and strolled around the roof of his house (2 Samuel 11:1-2). The scripture used language that is similar to Genesis 3; David saw and he took. Specifically he saw a beautiful woman bathing, sent and inquired about her and then sent and took her and sexually exploited her. This can seem like someone giving into a sinful impulse in a weak moment, except for that David knew her because she was “Uriah’s Wife” and David was able to commit this sin because of the power dynamic at play… he was the king. 

Bathsheba conceived and sent back word to David that she was pregnant (2 Samuel 11:5). As you read 2 Samuel 11 look for how the word “sent” is used. It is a repeated word and one that emphasizes an impersonal nature of the use of power, especially as David “sent” word to his general, by Uriah’s own hand, to dispose of Uriah in battle. It gets turned around against David in 2 Samuel 12 as God “sent” Nathan the prophet to confront David. 

To cover up his sin and to make it seem like this pregnancy was holy and righteous, David brought Uriah back from battle, got him filled with wine and tried to send him home to spend time with his wife. However, Uriah knew it was wrong to be back in Jerusalem and not with his brothers at the frontline. In many ways Uriah is shown to be more righteous than David. David made two attempts to try to get Uriah to go home to his wife, but he refused and so David sent him back to the front lines with a letter to Joab to withdraw troops from where Uriah was fighting with the hopes that he’d die. This plan was “successful” and Uriah died in battle and David thought this was covered up. David took Bathsheba as his own wife and just moved on. However, that was not hidden to the eyes of God (2 Samuel 12:7-9). Likely, Matthew called Bathsheba “Uriah’s wife” in the genealogy as a way to remind us how God felt about the whole incident. This sexual exploitation of Bathsheba and murder of a righteous man was an offense against God. It was a betrayal of Uriah, Bathsheba and God. 

The consequences of David’s sin would be immense, not only did David lose his child with Bathsheba but he also faced inner conflict in his own family with his son Absalom trying to take the throne of Israel as a judgment for this sin (2 Samuel 12:15-23). Sin is never just something that impacts the sinner. The consequences are against real people and a real God. And yet despite the faithless actions of David, God remained faithful to David and his promise.

God’s Devotion
Psalm 51
God showed himself to be faithful even to the faithless. Earlier in the story of David God promised to give David an everlasting line of kings who’d rule and reign. These kings would be called to be faithful to God and to follow his commandments, but like David they'd struggle and fail. And yet in the midst of this covenant that God made with David there was a promise that there would be an eternal king who’d reign over the people of God (2 Samuel 7 Matthew 1:1, 1:17). God was faithful to his promise and did not give up on David. God confronted David’s sin and offered him an opportunity to repent and be restored. David’s sin still had serious consequences and was grievous to God, but like all our sin, it was not too big for God’s grace and forgiveness.

Out of the aftermath of this sin against Uriah, Bathsheba and God we get Psalm 51. In that Psalm David confessed his need for God’s mercy, that his sin was evil in the sight of God and that he did not just have sinful actions but a sinful heart. David’s plea to God was “cast me not away from your presence (Psalm 51:10).” What we have in the Christmas story, and specifically from this reminder in the genealogy of “Uriah’s wife” is a reminder that God the son took on flesh to bring the presence of God near to sinners. Our biggest fear during a season of sin is often that God would remove his presence from us and be done with us. Yet, God’s response to sin was to draw near in the person of Jesus and that is what we see throughout the advent story. God loves his broken and sinful world enough to send forth his son to be our substitute because God is faithful even when we are faithless. 

How does Bathsheba’s story end? Bathsheba was impacted by the sin of others in a grievous way. She lost her husband and her life and had it all covered up by the abuse of power by David. Yet, God was faithful to expose the sin done against her and to give her a name and family line. Years later God would pass down his promise of redemption through her and through her son Solomon. God continued his plan through her family line. This does not undo all the harm done to Bathsheba, but it stands as an example of how God uses the broken and overlooked. Sin committed against us is grievous and hard to deal with, yet take comfort in that God sees and God responds even if it is not always in a way we understand in the moment.

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
Who was Uriah to David and does that change how you read this story?

How does the writer of 2 Samuel 11 use the word “sent?” What point do you think he is trying to make?

Why is it loving of God to confront our sin and call us to repentance?

Often when we struggle with sin we think that God will just get fed up and done with us. How is it good news to you today that God’s grace cannot be exhausted?