Bathsheba’s Story and Implications for Ministry (Part 2)

In contemplating Bathsheba’s lack of responsibility, many current observations and applications call for attention. In yesterday’s post, I took a look at Rachel Marie Stone’s perspective based off an article she wrote for Prism Magazine. Today I want to take a look at another interesting angle from Chole Sun. (The following is content taken from my Master’s thesis written for Dallas Theological Seminary.)

Chloe Sun’s Perspective

Author Chloe Sun brings another applicational perspective to Bathsheba’s story. Sun discusses how she grew up in China adhering to cultural expectations typical of most Chinese women: passive, submissive, quiet, hidden behind the crowd, minding her own business, and hiding behind the status quo. When she moved to the United States, she still found herself adhering to those same expectations in various situations.[1]

Sun writes, “I bore the pain and consequence of my silence and lived in a predicament of powerlessness. I asked myself, ‘Isn’t this the way it should be, the way it always is for a Chinese woman?” She lists several justifications she made for her silence, adding, “I did not see the need to make my voice heard. I did not realize I was finding excuses for my silence.”[2]

Further reflection on her life brought her to a point of understanding both how cultural dynamics and her family life contributed to her lack of voice and feelings of powerlessness. The story of Bathsheba reminded her of aspects from her own life and brought about the courage to speak up and let her voice be heard.[3]

When the prophet Nathan confronted David, he told a story in which he compared David to a rich man who stole a poor man’s ewe lamb. Sun also uses the analogy of a lamb, comparing Bathsheba’s place in society as a helpless lamb, “a victim at the whim of David’s lust and power.”[4]

Sun goes on to say of Bathsheba, “She herself remained passive, powerless, and voiceless. However, Bathsheba did not fade away to the background after this episode. She resurfaced in 1 Kings and appeared as a voice speaking out on behalf of her son Solomon. In this chapter, she is not a silent lamb. We hear from her for the first time and start to see her as a real person with feelings and convictions.”[5]

Sun reflects on how Bathsheba underwent a metamorphosis in which she changed from “passive to active, from silence to voice, and from marginal to influential.” Most of the time women in the Bible appear in only one book, and their stories do not carry over to another book, particularly if the woman was not a major character who is an integral part of the plot. Thus, readers might not expect Bathsheba to show up again after her victimization in 2 Samuel, but she does. “Bathsheba reappears in 1 Kings with an interesting twist—she spoke up boldly.”[6]

Sun focuses on potential reasons for Bathsheba’s transformation and writes to inspire “Asian American women leaders to see the need to break the silence and find the courage and wisdom to do so.”[7]

Unlike Bathsheba, Sun was not the victim of sexual abuse. However, she did find herself in a cultural position in which her voice was limited. When Sun changed settings (i.e. moved to the United States), she had the choice of continuing to live as she had without a voice or making a change. Her decision to develop her own voice inspires other women, regardless of their nationalities, to find similar inspiration from her story and Bathsheba’s story. Victims of sexual abuse can take courage in gaining a voice. Others who have remained quiet for whatever reason can learn from Bathsheba’s positive example. It is significant that Bathsheba raised Solomon, one of King David’s only godly sons and a king who displayed great wisdom. It is also significant that she was mentioned in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1. Finally, she spoke up to help secure her son’s place as the new king over Israel.

[1] Chloe Sun, “Bathsheba Transformed: From Silence to Voice,” in Mirrored Reflections: Reframing Biblical Characters, ed. Young Lee Hertig and Chloe Sun (Eugene, OR: WIPF and Stock Publishers, 2010), 30.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 31–2.

[4] Ibid., 32.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 35.

[7] Ibid., 32.