Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Review: Bathsheba

Bathsheba. (The Wives of King David #3) Jill Eileen Smith. 2011. Revell. 350 pages.

Jerusalem, 994 BC
Darkness curtained the sky, hiding the stars, sheltering Bathsheba in the inner courtyard of her home. She clutched the soft linen towel to her chest, shivering, while Uriah stood with his back to her, a sentry guarding her privacy.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. It is one of the best Christian fiction books that I've read this year. And one of the best examples of biblical fiction that I've ever read. That doesn't really surprise me. After all, I loved Abigail and enjoyed Michal--the first two books in the series. All three chronicle the life of King David, though each is written from a different perspective. Michal chronicles David's rise to fame and his struggles with King Saul. Abigail continues that struggle, for the most part, and establishes David on the throne. But it is Bathsheba that shows the king's strengths and weaknesses. For it is when he has the good life that he succumbs to temptation--adultery and ultimately murder. But David's story is ultimately one of grace and redemption. A story of second chances. Of a God that heals and restores. A God that uses people even in their weaknesses, even in their darkest moments, to accomplish his purposes. Yes, David was sinful--he was human--but he knew that God could cleanse him from the deepest, darkest stains of sin.

This novel is told primarily from two perspectives: Bathsheba and David. Readers catch a glimpse of their personal lives. Of Bathsheba's marriage to Uriah. Of her loneliness and frustration. Of being the wife left behind as her husband goes off to fight for the King again and again and again. It seems that he's away more than he's home. And while he's home, she loves him. And she doesn't want to nag about how much she hates wars and fighting and such. But oh how she longs to be understood. How she wishes she could keep her husband with her all the time. It also speaks of her depression. How she longs for a child, wants a houseful of children. But after several years of marriage--interrupted marriage--she fears she may be barren. And there is much shame in that--if it is true. Readers also see a grieving David. After Abigail's death, David is hurting. He wants to find the one wife that will be to him 'the one.' He wants a deeper connection, but that is something you just can't rush. And being king, well, it complicates matters. Then again, he has the power to call any woman to him. Bathsheba, for the most part, lives a separate life from the king. When she sees him--when she hears him--it is from afar, usually in a big crowd. Yet, there are a few moments when they take notice of each other. Which ultimately leads to one night when her husband is far away from home--fighting the king's battles--a night they both regret, a night that results in the conception of a child. A sin that cannot be hidden away. A sin that leads to one of the greatest psalms of repentance, Psalm 51. But though this relationship may not have had the purest of starts, that doesn't mean that their relationship didn't blossom into something greater, something richer. Bathsheba would be the mother of the son that would be king, the son that would build God's temple in Jerusalem. A son that would play a role in fulfilling God's promise.

What did I love about this one? Just about everything! The writing, the pacing, the characterization. Even though I was familiar with the story, I found it incredibly compelling. I didn't want to put this one down. And I couldn't stop talking about it either! It had me hooked. It had me excited.
Psalm 51
 1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
 2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
 3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
 4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
 5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
 6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
 7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
 9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
 10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
 12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
 13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
 14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
 15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
 16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
 18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
 19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar. (Psalm 51, King James Version)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Cynthea said...

Hi Beth, so you gave this such a raving review I am sold... but should I start with Michal or can I just start with Bathsheba? Thanks :)

Cynthea said...

Sorry about butchering your name, Becky :) (I am currently reading a book series you reviewed a month ago and the main character's name is Beth; must be just an association "thing" lol!)

Becky said...

Cynthea, each book could be read alone. So if you want to start with Bathsheba, then I think that could work well! Each has its own main character--and tells a part of David's life. But I think you could easily read it without having read the others.

Annette said...

I almost bought this book at Lifeway the other day. I may go back and buy it now.
Have a great Sunday Becky!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. This book sounds great for my book club.