July 29, 2012
Second Samuel 11:1-15
Today we have one of the most famous and most vicious courtships in the western world. It is a dreadful story David seduces Bathsheba, a married woman he had not laid eyes on until that day. By the taboos of his society, the sexual congress leaves him unclean, for she has not completed the process of purifying herself after menstruation (see Lev 15:19-24). Basheba seems to have missed her next period, for she tells David she is pregnant. The only way he can cover his misbehavior is for Bathsheba to sleep with her husband so the child will be thought his. Her husband, Uriah, is a soldier, engaged in battle every day. He sleeps with the troops and does not go home because to have sex before a battle is taboo, a disgrace to the army. David tries to trick him into spending the night with his Bathsheba, but he will not do it, not even when David gets him drunk. So David has him murdered on the battlefield and then marries his widow.
Solomon, as we will eventually hear, prayer for wisdom. Paul prays for something beyond wisdom, beyond understanding, something surpassing knowledge. I can reason about the Bible, I can reason about the liturgy, about doctrines, about organized religion, but I cannot reason myself to faith. Sometimes I think that one can reason her/himself into a belief in God’s existence, as some think Einstein did. But in the face of all the wars and diseases and pains of this world, how can one reason himself to a belief in God’s benevolence? Ralph Cudworth in the sixteenth century and Leibnitz in the eighteenth reasoned that ours is “the best of all possible worlds.” If they were right, the God of the best world doesn’t look benevolent. The faith in divine love which lies at the center of our religion comes from the heart, not from the mind.