Friday, 29 January 2010

David and Bathsheba

Today's Gospel reading for Mass is the episode of David and Bathsheba.

This central text from the book of Samuel in the Bible, is without parallel. King David lies with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, the Hittite - captain in David's forces. When Bathsheba is with child the mob led by the prophet Nathan gathers to lead her out to be stoned, as per the law. David finds his palace encircled. In the final moments he goes in to see Bathsheba who is kneeling in prayer.

'Play something on your harp, David,' Bathsheba implores. 'Play me something from your childhood.' And David plays Psalm 23. He explains how as a shepherd boy he loved the Lord and sought him in the wind and the rain. In the rabble of the city, David confesses, His face faded. David, like Oedipus begs God for deliverance, to send rain on his parched lands, not for his great omissions, but because of the love David had for the Lord when he was a boy.

And God relents and sends rain. 'No one can understand the ways of the Lord' remarks Nathan the prophet.

The Lord's my Shepherd

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again;
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
Even for His own Name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me; and Thy rod
And staff my comfort still.

My table Thou hast furnishèd
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.

(Psalm 23 -Scot­tish Psal­ter, 1650)

The movie David and Bathsheba (1951) starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward as Bathsheba, directed by Henry King, which I saw on Youtube brought the drama alive.
Pix courtesy: estrellafineart(dot)com

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