Beautifully Messy Grace: The Genealogical Story That Gets Overlooked

Beautifully Messy Grace: The Genealogical Story That Gets Overlooked

One from the Vault

WARNING: This article speaks about, and references sexual assault using direct language.

Last year, my daily reading had been tuned into reading a 365-Day Chronological Bible. One morning, I stumbled across a verse of scandalous redemption and grace that blew my mind.

For anyone who likes going on their own journey though the scriptures and unpacking things for themselves, and want to find what I'm talking about before I actually talk about it, here:

'These are the names of the children born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon,' (ESV)
1 Chronicles 14:4

If you know your text, that verses is the only hint you need to find your own way to where I will be going today. Have fun.

Now, here's the answer for those who don't like riddles.

Well, I can't make it that easy. Let's start with the mess and see where we end up.

The mess, maybe the largest mess in scripture, is in the story of David, the Man After God's Own Heart, the greatest king of Israel, the one through whom the Messiah would come. The mess is made when King David rapes Bathsheba.

I don't see any use in mincing words. Actually, watering down reality tends to dilute the truth and weaken the medicine. So, I'm just gonna call it what it is. David raped Bathsheba.

'It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful… So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her...' (ESV)
2 Samuel 11:2,4a

The English Standard Version beats around the bush a little. I first read it in the New Living Translation.

'Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her...' (NLT)
2 Samuel 11:4a

NLT and NIV are a little bit better at saying what actually happened.

Still, if I'm telling the story, David raped Bathsheba. Perhaps when they brought her she consented, maybe not. We aren't told. Regardless, when you're brought from your home to the king, and he propositions you… real consent isn't possible. The power dynamic makes it impossible.

If David raping a woman makes you uncomfortable, that's good. What he did is awful. Also, buckle up, it's going to get more uncomfortable.

'And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”' (ESV)
2 Samuel 11:5

So, David rapes Bathsheba, and gets her pregnant.

“When does the grace and redemption come into play?”

We're getting there. Next, David tries, multiple times, to get her husband to go home and have sex with her so that it looks like it's his kid and there was no funny business going on. But, Bathsheba's husband is too honorable to, “go to [his] house, to eat and to drink and to lie with [his] wife (ESV, 2 Samuel 11:11 ),” while his fellow troops were out camping in the fields in the middle of a war. Since David has no more options to cover up his sins, he sends Uriah (Bathsheba's husband) to the frontline to die a needless death.

So, David rapes Bathsheba, gets her pregnant, and murders her husband.

“It can't get any worse can it?”


Next, David marries the now widowed Bathsheba and she has the baby. But, the child gets sick and dies, as punishment for David's sins.

So, David rapes Bathsheba, gets her pregnant, murders her husband, marries her, she births the baby, and due to the consequences of David's actions, the child dies young.

“Okay, that's pretty uncomfortable. That's as bad as it gets right?”

Almost. Next is the part of the story that jumped out at me and if I had been drinking tea, would have spit it out.

After David and Bathsheba's child dies;

'Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him' (ESV)
2 Samuel 12:24

I can't imagine David's method of comfort fitting the situation, but to each their own.

The point that stood out to me, though, was Solomon. The man of wisdom. The writer of much of the Proverbs. Solomon. The wisest man came out of this broken relationship. That, in itself, is radical grace and restoration.

But it gets better.

'and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,'(ESV)
Matthew 1:6-7

That's an excerpt from the genealogy of Jesus…

So, Jesus, the Messiah, our Savior, that guy, he comes about because of David and Bathsheba…

“Yeah, but there's another genealogy, isn't there?”

Oh, right…

'the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,' (ESV)
Luke 3:31

So, from Luke's genealogy, the line follows through David's son Nathan. Okay, well…

'The sons born to David in Jerusalem included Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon. Their mother was Bathsheba, the daughter of Ammiel.' (NLT)
1 Chronicles 3:5

Oh, so… whether it's from Mary, or Joseph, Jesus's lineage still flows through the union of David and Bathsheba…


Yup, now it's at it's most uncomfortable.

There are plenty of messages on this story that will focus on David and talk about how despite his mistakes, God still chose to use him and bring Jesus about though his lineage. Honestly, knowing that it was also through Bathsheba's line, makes that a lot harder to wrestle with.

What does it mean that the line from David to Jesus passes though the woman who David raped? I have no idea. It's definitely a story of radical grace that vastly surpasses worldly understanding. I don't get it. I don't like it. I don't know what to do with it. It's messy.

So, in trying to deal with this crazy story. Let's shift our perspective. What about Bathsheba? What does it mean that the line follows from Bathsheba to Jesus?

Ah, there is where the beauty and redemption comes into play. Here is where I see the real inner workings of a good God.

Bathsheba was used and abused. Bathsheba was raped. Whether by physical force or through the use of power, Bathsheba was raped. Bathsheba's husband was murdered to hide the crimes of her abuser. Bathsheba was forced to marry the man who raped her and murdered her husband. Her child died as a consequence of the actions of the man who raped her, murdered her husband, and forced her to marry him. Yet, God saw her and her pain and chose to repay Bathsheba for the injustice done to her by allowing His one-and-only Son to be born through her lineage. The loving Father saw Bathsheba. He saw the woman whom the king felt he could treat as his property (admittedly, that was the culture of the time). The Father decided to lavish his grace and mercy on her despite the evils done to her. God decided to use Bathsheba to eventually bring about His Salvation, despite the failures of David.

So, while I won't deny that the story is still very messy, I don't think it's necessarily about using an abuser despite their failings. I see a beautiful story about our good God partnering with the victim despite their abuse.

God Bless.