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Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty - A Book Review

I received a copy of Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty, written by Angela Hunt, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. This book released last month. Italicized quotes are from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.

 

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I haven’t gotten my hands on the first one yet. But when my reading list gets a little lighter, I fully intend to lose myself in ancient Persia.

 

Angela Hunt started her series, Dangerous Beauty, with Esther: Royal Beauty. Next in line, Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty. The third book, forthcoming, Delilah: Dangerous Beauty. The common thread among these three women of the Bible, if it’s not already obvious, is their great beauty. In Hebrew, they are tob women. Good and pleasing, done well.

 

A beauty that can in every way define you.

 

When we’re first introduced to Bathsheba, she’s a young girl who stands in a crowd of witnesses to see the Ark of the Covenant returned to its rightful place in Jerusalem. She sees their King, David, dance in a way most undignified. Then, she simply goes on with her life. A seemingly inconsequential day in her childhood.

 

Bathsheba marries her betrothed, Uriah, and we read that their early days of marriage are filled with happiness. 

 

Throughout the book, we also hear from the prophet, Nathan. Since his early days of learning under the great prophet, Samuel, his story intertwines with Bathsheba’s in a most extraordinary way. 

For a prophet, mine was a good life. Every day I woke, then looked and listened for a message from Adonai. If I saw and heard nothing, I focused on my responsibilities to my family.

 

Those familiar with the Bible story know that Bathsheba’s union with Uriah would meet with a fatal ending. David saw Bathsheba while she was bathing on her rooftop and he just had to have her. The man after God’s own heart chased after a temptation and many people suffered the consequences. Sin always has its consequences.

 

I’ve shared with you before that I enjoy reading the genre, biblical historical fiction. It reminds us that the people who compose our Bible stories weren’t just godly puppets. They were real people who had to live with the good and bad realities life brought their way. Consider this excerpt from the book as Bathsheba returns home from her destructive night with the king.

But I did not go inside the house. Unable to face Elisheba and Amaris [female companions of Bathsheba’s who lived in the house with her and Uriah], I curled up like a wounded animal on the gritty stones of our courtyard and wept until daybreak.

 

We follow Bathsheba, and Nathan, for the rest of their lives. Uriah’s march to death. The death of David and Bathsheba’s first son. Raising Solomon, secretly knowing he has been selected as the next king of Israel. Living through the family drama of David’s many wives and children.

 

Hunt raises an interesting question throughout the book; did King David and Bathsheba ever find love? She doesn’t offer an easy answer, because naturally when two people’s lives together has such a rocky beginning, it can never be easy. Yet, sharing a life together, parenting together, would inevitably create a connection that might look something like a form of love. 

[David] “Tell me, wife - in all our years together, have you ever been able to love me?”

 

[Bathsheba] The question caught me off guard. A king’s wife came when summoned, departed when dismissed, and freely bestowed false smiles and words of flattery. In all our years together, I had never once told David that I loved him. A king’s wife did not need to love; she only needed to obey.

 

The book stands on its own as a romantic story. More, though, for those of us who study Scripture, it explains the ancient culture to us. It gives us food for thought about how all these wives must have interacted with one another. We see the humanity of our biblical heroes. And we’re reminded again that if God can use them, He can surely use us. 

 

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I'm linking up my review over at Literacy Musing Mondays. Looking for more good books? Head over there.

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