Bathsheba gets short shrift most of the time. Due to a lot of misunderstanding of cultural practices, she is accused of things she did not do, and blamed for things that were not her fault, but that is not what we are going to talk about today. Today we are checking in on David and Bathsheba about thirty years later. David is near death at the age of 70, and Bathsheba is around 50, or even less.*
David has promised Solomon that he will be king, that, in fact, God Himself has chosen him to be the next king. Adonijah, as the oldest living son, has other plans. He sets about having himself crowned even as David lies on his deathbed. He isn’t being particularly secretive, but he is very careful whom he invites to the coronation. David’s mighty men are left out, as well as Zadok, who as a result of this becomes the patriarch of the new high priest line promised in 1 Samuel 2, and Nathan the prophet also.
Nathan comes to Bathsheba. ‘Haven’t you heard?” he asks her. Then he gives her careful instruction about telling David the news, and goes along with her to verify her story. Bathsheba seems more than willing. Perhaps it is a mother looking after the welfare of her son, but for her to have this close contact with David after all these years, when none of his other wives do, tells me their relationship became the prominent one. She was the favorite, and as any wife would at this time, she made sure he was happy and had what he needed.
The rest of the story doesn’t really matter to me today. Maybe it is because I am older now, maybe it is because I have seen so many women doing it up close and personal, but the verse above from Proverbs 31 sprang to my mind when I thought of Bathsheba’s actions. A good wife will see to her husband’s wishes, “doing him good and not evil,” even when he is no longer able to function.
And the only way we can do that, ladies, is to ask what he wants. If you haven’t, you need to sit down together and ask him those tough questions. If you have a will, and you should, that will help, but perhaps he has other things, not valuable things, but things he cherishes, that he would like to go to someone in particular. Find out and write it down. Perhaps he wants a certain man to preach his funeral. Find out who. Perhaps he wants certain songs to be sung. Find out which ones.
Then there are the really difficult decisions. Does he want to be an organ donor? Does he have a living will? If he is very ill already, does he have a DNR? If he were to reach the point that he no longer knows anyone, how does he want to be cared for?
Life has a way of stealing a man’s identity and our society’s ridicule of the elderly doesn’t help a bit. The doctor may tell him he can no longer drive. Be careful what you say to others in his hearing. You may not think it a big deal, but for some men driving represents more than just going somewhere. God has programmed into our men the need to provide and protect, and in a society where we no longer face angry natives on the warpath and food is always just around the corner at Publix, he has few ways of doing that. Driving may be one of them. Don’t steal his manhood with your comments about this or anything else he can no longer do.
We could go on and on with this, but I imagine you have gotten my point. Because of the emotions involved these things are difficult to talk about, even when we have absolute faith in the reward God promises. Some men will refuse, but do what you can. Listen to him when he talks to others and make a note in your mind of what he says if you can’t get him to say it to you, but do your best to know what he wants and then do those things for him when he is lying there completely unable, just as David was.
An aside here—there are some things a man has no business telling his wife to do. He should not tell you to never remarry. Especially if you are young, which is a whole lot older than it used to be to me, Paul himself says you should remarry (1 Tim 5:14). Death breaks the marriage bond (Rom 7), and he no longer has that hold on you. And of course, anything sinful you can rightly ignore.
Back to our point—please do this today. Do not use your youthful age as an excuse. One inch either way and a bullet would have made me a widow at 42. Then there was the stroke Keith had when I was 49. I can tell you sad tales of people who have succumbed to disease even earlier than that. These days women usually outlive their men, especially if they are several years younger, as I am. It is only sensible to be ready. How can you possibly “do him good and not evil” when you don’t know what good he wants?
And then do this for him too. Sometimes we women do go first. Tell him what you want. If you start the ball rolling, maybe it will come more easily for him. Once you both have it down, you can rest easy, and on the day when one or the other of you finally do go to that promised rest, the one you leave behind can rest too.
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away…So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:10,12
*To read my take on Bathsheba, go over to the right sidebar and click on Bible People. Scroll down several articles and a couple of pages to find “A Case of Mistaken Identity.”