Voices > Soul Food

Psalm 32 revisited

What if David were a baby boomer?

Issue: "Campaigning from the closet," Sept. 19, 1998

My fellow countrymen, I have requested this air time on ISRL to speak to you about questions regarding my relationship to a woman you've heard a lot about in recent months. I mean, of course, my newest wife Bathsheba. You may have wondered about our marriage so soon after the death of one of our national heroes, her late husband Uriah. Many rumors have been spread concerning the tragic death of our son shortly after his birth. As you can well imagine, this has been a painful time for me and my family.

I acknowledge that there was something inappropriate about my relationship with this woman before our marriage. I realize that my silence coupled with my previous statements may concern you. My assertion that I did not have sexual relations with my wife before our marriage was technically correct (for she was not my wife before our marriage). I was also correct when I affirmed that when Uriah was killed in battle I had nothing to do with it, because the battle orders were issued by General Joab. I, however, did not volunteer to reveal any information. You may feel you have been misled.

There are reasons for my silence and my previous statements. For one thing, I did not see any reason I should suffer public embarrassment by revelations about one of my personal relationships. I have also been concerned about the impact of this information on my other wives and children. And I did not feel it proper for anyone to cast a shadow over my latest marriage or the sorrow of a recently widowed woman I have tried to comfort.

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But there is another reason, and it is the cause of the anger you discern in my voice and demeanor tonight. I have had enough of that meddling investigative and judgmental prophet Nathan. What happened between Bathsheba and me should have remained a matter to be handled within the royal family-and it would have if Nathan had not burst uninvited into my palace and tricked me, by taking advantage of my compassionate nature, into saying things better left unsaid.

You need to know that this prophet Nathan is mean-spirited. In addition to exposing my private life, he has heartlessly announced "judgments," short-term and long-term, for my mistake. You won't believe this, but he says the death of our son was the result of what he calls "my sin." Can you imagine the anguish this has caused grieving parents?

He also has the audacity to predict that, while I may be forgiven, I must live with the consequences of my actions the rest of my life. He says my family will always experience conflict and that I will be humiliated "in broad daylight" for what I did "in secret." All this after I replaced a failed king, united the country, defeated its enemies, and moved the ark to Jerusalem. What kind of man is this?

Enough is enough. This matter is between me and my family and our God. It is not the business of the prophet or anyone else. It will be settled within our family and in the privacy of our personal consciences.

I'm sure you agree. Which of the elders of Israel or which of you could stand up under the scrutiny of a prying prophet like Nathan? Citizens, and yes, even kings, have a right to privacy.

It is time to move on. My family and I need time to heal from the tragedies we've experienced and from the unmerciful probing of this prophet. As a nation we need to deal with the current threats of the Philistines and Ammonites, to deepen our national unity, and to build on the prosperity I've brought you during my reign.

I am confident of your understanding and support. You and I are flawed people. What we need is not confrontation and condemnation by priggish prophets. Let us forgive each other, feel each other's pain, and sympathetically help each other deal with the many arbitrary and unwelcome providences that disturb our personal peace.

Good night. And God bless us, as we so richly deserve.

William H. Smith
William H. Smith

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