This is part 2 of a series exploring the lineage of Jesus Christ. The first part covered from creation up until David. See here for part 1. Part 2 will cover David’s time period and the time in which line of Joseph and Mary diverged.
The book of Ruth immediately precedes the book of I Samuel, in which David is introduced – who would also be the pivotal ancestor of both Joseph and Mary. David is a very interesting man of God, and there is no one else of that name in the Bible. The meaning of his name is “beloved”. The story begins when Samuel the priest is led by God to anoint David when he is still young to be a future king of Israel. When Samuel anointed David with oil in from of his brothers, and the passage says “and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward”. In the Old Testament prior to the Pentecost event in Acts, the spirit seems to be a rare commodity, only being bestowed upon certain rare individuals. David is described in the same chapter to King Saul as “a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.” He first came into contact with King Saul as a result of his musical skills, and David had an opportunity to play his harp for him. Although we don’t have the music, David’s heart is poured out in musical verse in the Psalms.
The attributes that we first see in David is courage and zeal for God. The story of David and Goliath is one of the most famous Bible stories told to children. David defeated the Philistine giant Goliath for both his God and his people. His inspiring response to Goliath before the match was in I Samuel 17:45-47. With his slingshot, David destroyed the giant, and won the battle for Israel and Israel’s God.
David never seemed to have an easy road throughout his life. As a youth he was a shepherd who physically protected his father’s sheep against predators including a bear and lion. As the youth and the youngest of his father’s eight sons however, he was disregarded and thought to be an upstart. He was a fugitive for years during of Saul’s reign when Saul was mentally disturbed and felt threatened by his rising stardom. David lost his beloved friend and potential heir to the throne Jonathan at the same time Saul was killed. David did not seem to covet power as many do and he gave honor even to his enemies. However because of some of David’s failings to be described below, David’s family would have a lot of friction, to say the least. There would be dramatic rebellion of one of his sons and other sons would deceitfully try to grab the throne without David’s blessing or input. However in spite of his failings David is regarded as by far the most significant King of Israel with an everlasting role in God’s plans. David became king of Judah at the age of 30 and had a 40-year reign in total (II Samuel 5:4). “In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.” II Samuel 5:5.
David’s Sins and Repentance before God
It seems like the moment David set eyes on the bathing Bathsheba that his life began to spin out of control, which his life clearly did. But that would be only a superficial interpretation. In Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1, in verse six it says: “And Jesse begat David the king: and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias”. The Bible seems to be clearly indicating that this was not a “condoned” marriage. And yet, there is still more to the story.
In David’s forty-year reign over Judah and then all of Israel, we can see that he made two grave errors.
Grave error # 1: Adultery with Bathsheba and the Murder of Uriah
II Samuel 11 & 12 gives the dramatic story of David falling for the lust of the eyes and of the flesh. Many would put more blame on Bathsheba for appearing to deliberately tempt him but it wasn’t as though David was helpless. He should have been out to war at the time with his men. In that society and time polygamy was accepted, especially for kings, and David already had several wives. He could have probably picked any unmarried woman in the country and not have incurred God’s wrath. But instead, he coveted the wife of one of his 37 original “mighty men” (II Samuel 23:8-39). Uriah was one of a band of brothers who had been together for many years, any of whom would give their life for David’s sake. But he couldn’t have imagined the manner of David’s betrayal. David got Bathsheba pregnant in adultery, and this led to the murder of Uriah as a matter of convenience. He would go on to marry Bathsheba (II Samuel 11:26-27). I Chronicles 20 offers the parallel chronology, but omits the juicy details provided in II Samuel.
Grave error # 2: The Prideful Numbering of Israel
II Samuel 24 gives the story of how David wanted to know the number of Israel, including the number of fighting men. His sin, in doing so, was that he did this as a point of pride, not for the glory of God. God had greatly multiplied Israel, but David was in effect taking the glory to himself. I Chronicles 21 gives the parallel account.
These grave errors above set a course of destruction and carnage. In the case of the sin involving adultery and murder, the prophet Nathan announced a “fourfold” sentence in paying for his sin (I Samuel 12:6). Henry Morris in The Defender’s Study Bible sees this fourfold sentence to be 1.) The death of the child that was conceived, 2.) The rape of his virgin daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon 3.)The vengeful killing of Amnon by David’s son Absalom as retribution for raping his sister and 4.) The treason and death of Absalom. Nathan the prophet pronounced God’s sentence in II Samuel 12:10: “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou has despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.” The sin of the prideful numbering of Israel involved the punishment upon Israel of a pestilence that killed 70,000 men. This history is given in II Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21.
However there is redemption in the story of David and Bathsheba. God had clearly let them know (and the story is very much an example for all that would come after) that they would not get away with this. They would suffer greatly. God regarded David in the category of ‘He should have known better’ because of his special relationship with God. The record David’s repentance and also God’s forgiveness is shown in II Samuel 12:13-14 and Psalms 51.
Bathsheba, Solomon and Nathan
After the initial episode of David and Bathsheba and the beginning of its destructive aftermath, there began to be a change for the better. “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon. Now the LORD loved him and sent word through Nathan the prophet, and he named him Jedidiah for the LORD’S sake” – II Samuel 12:24-25, NAS version. Again the names here are significant. The name of the new son of David and Bathsheba was Solomon, which meant “peaceable”. Nathan the prophet seems to call him Jedidiah, meaning “beloved of Jah”, or “Beloved of the Lord” – a similar meaning to that of the name David. As an adult, Solomon would also attach another name to himself in Proverbs 31, which is given the introduction: “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). Easton’s Bible Dictionary expounds upon the definition and significance of the king named Lemuel: “Dedicated to God, a king whom his mother instructed (Prov. 31:1-9). Nothing is certainly known concerning him. The rabbis identified him with Solomon.”
What became of Bathsheba? She was certainly a partaker of David’s punishment and pain. But God’s grace also prevailed. The woman who seems to be a scandalous footnote in history and in Jesus’ genealogy was also the mother of four of David’s sons – I Chronicles 3:5. None of David’s additional wives were listed as having more than one son, and his wife Michal who was Saul’s daughter had no child (II Samuel 6:23). If Bathsheba received fulfillment and redemption, it was clearly in her role as a mother. I Timothy 2:15 is scripture that seems to have a dual meaning of needing to be saved by Christ and the blessing of childbearing, and this seems clearly applicable to Bathsheba. We only seem to have a few clues here and there about Bathsheba. If Bathsheba was the one who taught Solomon – as Lemuel -the Proverbs 31 prophecy, then she was clearly a wise teacher of God’s way. The Proverbs 31 celebration of the “virtuous woman” may have been a composite of all the virtuous women in the line of Jesus – from Sarah to Ruth and others. It appears that Bathsheba would have been both an instructive and loving mother. Solomon repeats the same theme repeatedly “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” – Proverbs 1:8 and “My son, keep they father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother” – Proverbs 6:20. Proverbs 4:3 states: ”For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.”
Like his father David who composed much of the book of Psalms, Solomon would write a good portion of the Bible, including Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Solomon, who would inherit David’s throne and usher in a period of peace (I Chronicles 22:9) was not without his own failings. Solomon would be the ancestor of Joseph, the non-biological parent of Jesus. It was through Solomon and Joseph that Jesus would inherit a kingly right to the throne of Israel. Nathan, another of Bathsheba’s sons, interestingly bore the same name of the prophet who brought David’s sin and punishment before David. Through Nathan would come the line of Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother.
This will be concluded in a future post.