As you may know, I’m working on the second book of the DANGEROUS BEAUTY series (for me, they will always be the “Bible Babes,”) and sometimes you just crave a little feedback as you’re working. 🙂 This is rough–only draft 2 of at least five–but I thought you might like to take a peek.
I’m writing each of these books from two character viewpoints: the title character, of course, and someone else who could be present at key scenes. For Bathsheba’s story, I chose Nathan the prophet, who is probably best known for the story he tells in the scene below. (Ignore the capital WASs. Part of my process.)
Over the course of several months, I watched the unfolding of many events. I stood outside Uriah’s house and heard the ulalations of mourning for the Hittite warrior—his wife, his wife’s nurse, his sister-in-law, his wife’s grandfather, and his neighbors mourned mightily for the murdered soldier. I did not know how Bathsheba grieved for her husband—did she mourn him out of true sorrow, or did out of some shared guilt?—but her eyes remained red and swollen throughout the period of mourning.
At the end of that week, I watched as David’s emissaries came to the house to escort Uriah’s wife to the palace. Hidden in a sheltered alcove, I saw her embrace the older woman and her young sister before surrendering to the guards and walking up the hill to her new home. Within hours, the word spread: David the King had taken Bathsheba, widow of Uriah the Hittite, to be his wife. Some people said he married her to honor Uriah’s sacrifice and provide for the warrior’s widow. Others said he married her in order to honor his counselor Ahithophel, the woman’s grandfather. Widows subsisted on charity unless they had sons or brothers to support them, and Bathsheba had neither. But as one of the king’s wives, neither she nor the two women she left behind would have to worry about being fed, clothed, and sheltered. David, the people assured themselves, WAS a most generous king.
Months later, two days after the birth of Bathsheba’s child, Adonai woke me with a command: the time for confrontation had come.
I dressed in a clean tunic, picked up my staff, and climbed the hill to the palace. On many occasions I had made the journey with no greater intention than observing daily events within the king’s court, but this time Adonai had given me a message and a mission. This time I would speak Ha Shem’s words, and the result would depend upon the receptivity of David’s heart.
I found the king’s throne room filled with the usual mix of travelers, dignitaries, supplicants, and counselors. A festive air permeated the gathering, for the king WAS accepting gifts and congratulations on the birth of his newborn son. I shouldered my way through the center of the assembly, then stopped before the king and brought my staff down, hard, upon the stone floor. David looked up from the parchment he’d been reading, and his eyes widened when he recognized me. “Prophet?” His gaze flicked at me, then he smiled at young Absalom, who sat on a cushion at his feet. “Have you come to congratulate us on the most recent son born to the house of David?”
I brought my staff down again. In the past, David had sent messengers to fetch Bathsheba, to recall Uriah, to escort his new wife to the palace. Now God had sent a messenger to David, and I would not be taken lightly. “Adonai has sent me with a message for you.”
Confusion flitted in the king’s dark eyes. He set his parchment aside, gripped an armrest of his throne, and nodded. “I am listening.”
I gripped my staff more tightly. “In a certain city there were two men, one rich, the other poor.”
At this innocuous beginning, as I spoke of ordinary men in ordinary circumstances, David relaxed his grip and slouched into a more comfortable position. He crossed one leg over the other and watched me, his eyes alight with speculation. As king, he WAS obligated to settle disputes and administer justice, so he probably thought I had disrupted the festivities in order to present a case for judgment.
“ The rich man had vast flocks and herds,” I continued, sensing the invisible circle had appeared around me, the holy space no man would dare crowd. “But the poor man had nothing, except for one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and reared. It had grown up with him and his children; it ate from his plate, drank from his cup, lay in his lap—it WAS like a daughter to him.”
“I had a lamb like that once,” the king interrupted, looking at his son Amnon, who leaned against the back of his father’s chair. “When I kept the lambs for my father, one became quite attached to me.”
I gave the king a reproachful look. If he had only taken Bathsheba into his harem, my story would have ended with the rich man placing the ewe lamb in his own flock. But David had done far more, and Adonai WAS about to reveal his sin to the world.
I drew a breath and continued with my story: “One day a traveler visited the rich man, and instead of choosing an animal from his own flock to prepare for his visitor, he stole the poor man’s lamb, then slaughtered and boiled it for the guest who had come to visit.”
Gripping my staff, I waited for the story to take hold. A lamb WAS only a lamb, but the context of the tale should prick David’s repressed conscience . . .
I did not have to wait long. Almost immediately our shepherd king’s face flushed with fury. David sat upright and uncrossed his legs. “As Adonai lives, doomed is the man who has done this! And because he had no pity, he shall pay the poor man four times as much as he stole.”
Every eye in the throne room swiveled toward me. The onlookers probably expected me to bow and thank the king for his righteous judgment, but I had not entered the king’s chamber for a judgment of other men.
My gaze locked on David’s. “You are the man.”
Adonai’s words filled the hush, and every man present, even the king’s young sons, remained motionless as my voice reverberated in the room. “Here is what Adonai, the God of Israel says,” I continued, not taking my eyes from David’s. “I anointed you king over Israel. I rescued you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives to embrace. I have given you the house of Israel and the house of Judah. And if that had been too little, I would have added to you a lot more.”
David stared, his face like a death mask.
“So why,” I continued, “have you shown such contempt for the word of Adonai and done what he sees as evil? You murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife; you put him to death with the sword of the people of Amon. Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house—because you have shown contempt for Adonai and taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own wife. Here is what Adonai says: ‘I will generate evil against you out of your own household. I will take your wives before your very eyes and give them to your neighbor; he will go to bed with your wives, and everyone will know about it. For you did this secretly, but I will do this before all Israel in broad daylight.’”
Someone behind me gasped as the guard nearest David raised his spear. All the king had to do WAS nod in my direction, and I would be murdered as surely as Uriah had been.
I waited, a chill in the pit of my stomach, until David lifted his hand and glanced at the guard, wordlessly commanding him to lower his weapon. Then, amid a silence that WAS the holding of a hundred breaths, David closed his eyes and shuddered. “I have sinned . . . . against Adonai.”
The hush in the room deepened as the king’s words echoed over the assembled court. I could almost hear the snap of breaking hearts and the crack of shattering illusions.
David had committed his sin in private, but within hours all Jerusalem would know of it. From this moment on, the king who had been much-loved and much-celebrated would be viewed differently. With this murderous act, David had proven himself to be like any other man—and worse than many. But with his confession, he had demonstrated that he remained a man who loved and revered his God.
I drew a deep breath and softened my voice. “Adonai also has taken away your sin, so you will not die. However, because by this act you have so greatly blasphemed the Lord, the child born to you . . . must perish.”
I bowed my head as the awareness of God’s heavy judgment descended upon the crowd. I felt it, too, but in a different regard: David deserved judgment in his sin, but Bathsheba, the ewe lamb, had not transgressed against her husband or Adonai.
Yet she, too, would suffer.
My throat ached with regret as I turned in a circle of stunned silence and left the palace.
So? What do you think?