When her husband Uriah is off at war, Bathsheba bathes on her rooftop and is spotted by King David.
Finding her beautiful and undeterred by the consequences, David sends for her to be brought to his chambers.
When she is found to be pregnant, David attempts to cover his sin by bringing Uriah home from the front, but Uriah's honor prevents him from enjoying the pleasures of home while his men are at war.
Frustrated, David orders his commander to see to it that Uriah is brought to the front line of battle and abandoned there, so that he will surely die.
The prophet Nathan visits David and tells him a story of two men, one who is rich with many sheep and cattle, and one who has nothing but a single lamb that he loves as a daughter. The rich man is not satisfied with all of his own possessions and takes from the poor man his one love. Angered, David demands justice, but Nathan reveals that David is indeed the rich man who has sinned greatly.
Bathsheba in turn must endure the shame of her infidelity, the grief of her husband's death, and the ultimate loss of her first child.
But in his great mercy, God blesses her with a child named Solomon, who becomes a great king of renowned wisdom.
This story is well known, and often referenced as a warning. The king with a "heart after God's own heart"... a beautiful woman could make even him fall and fall far.
But it's interesting to consider the story from Bathsheba's perspective. We don't know much about her part in it all. Should she have hidden herself? Did she have a choice when summoned by the most powerful man in the kingdom?
Perhaps she could have appealed to his trust in God, begged him to see his sin for what it was. Perhaps she didn't have a choice, or maybe she didn't want one.
We don't really know.
But we relate either way.
Many women know the horror of what it's like to be taken advantage of, with little choice in the matter. Others of us know what it's like to make a mess of your life all on your own, with no one to truly blame but yourself. But the beauty is that God's grace is extended to both.
For the hurt, He comforts.
For the shamed, He makes new.
For the broken, He restores.
For the one spiraling in darkness, He shines the light of hope and draws them slowly toward it, gently, with unending compassion.
And as Jesus says of another woman with a sinful past, "Those who have been forgiven little, love little. But she loves much, because she has been forgiven much."
Fourteen generations after King David, the Israelites were exiled into Babylon. Fourteen generations after the exile, the angel came to Mary.