LD: Ha ha! Is Bathsheba really a person's name?
ME: Sure. She is the woman in the Bible that King David fell in love with. Then he sent her husband Uriah to the frontline of a battle, hoping that he would be killed, which he was. Then David married Bathsheba.
LD: What? That is terrible!
ME: He did get punished.
LD: OK, good. I was thinking that would be really weird if he didn't.
ME: Yeah, this prophet named Nathan came to him and said that God was angry. Then King David's baby died as a punishment.
ME: Yeah, sounds like more of a punishment for the child than for David, huh?
LD: Yeah! I hope that was on Nathan's orders and not God's.
ME: No, it was on God's orders.
ME: At least according to the Old Testament writer.
LD: That is terrible. Why didn't God just make David's wife not love him or something? Why kill his child?
ME: Yeah, I know!
LD: I tell you what, if I was that baby, I would not want to go to heaven. I would definitely rather go to the other place. I mean, He just killed me!
ME: I hear ya.
LD: If someone just killed me, I would not want to hang out at his house.
ME: I understand. But remember, not everyone believes that the Old Testament is exactly right about what God is like. Many people believe it was written by humans and therefore is not exactly perfect.
LD: Yeah I mean, if God really did that, he should be taken down and replaced with some other God from some other religion.......though I don't know who exactly that would be.
ME: I agree! OK, so back to "Hey There, Bath...I mean... Hey There, Delilah"!
I can't help but notice a parallel in Scripture to LD's pronouncement against this concept of God. In Psalms 82 God takes his place in the divine council and judges the other gods. He does not condemn them because they are gods of different peoples, less powerful, or competition. Rather he judges them because of their inability to "give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute." "The foundations of the earth are shaken" because of the injustice over which they preside. This is stirring imagery - right to the bones of the world! As John Dominic Crossan says, "they are dethroned for injustice, for divine malpractice, for transcendental malfeasance in office."
It would seem that LD agrees with the author of Psalm 82 that might does not make right - whatever name, mental image or association one might ascribe to it. For King David's child to die because of David's sin is not a just punishment by any rational accounting of justice in the modern world. David did not "maintain the right of the lowly", but in this story, neither did God.
Psalms 82 not only suggests how we might judge ourselves and our leaders, but also how we might judge different concepts of God.