20 June 2020 – Matthew 1:6 The woman who is not named

Names matter! If your name is Robert and I call you Michael repeatedly after several meetings, despite you graciously alerting me to my mistake on each occasion, then you could legitimately question how well I was listening to you in our conversations. Names Matter! Or if in conversations the other person never mentioned your name and simply called you ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, or ‘man’ or ‘woman’ – depending on your age or gender – you might view such a practice as being less than friendly. Or even a sign that they had forgotten your name.

It was no different in the ancient world whether in the time of Jesus or a thousand years earlier in the time of the famous King David. In Isaiah 49:13-16a there is remarkable passage in which the people of Israel exiled in Babylon (Iraq) feared that God had forgotten them. They were praying in their times of desperate need and nothing happened. Had they been abandoned?  

Isaiah comes back to them with this message from the Lord: Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people  and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. 14 But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.’ 15 ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

In other words God knows His people and never forgets us, even if other people forget our names and anything else about us. You may think today that you are of no importance. As a child of God by faith in Jesus, your heavenly Father would take a different view. You matter to Him. He knows your name.

Here in Matthew 1:6 it states: David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife The sad story of David’s wicked plan to take the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers Uriah overshadowed the remaining years of his reign (see II Samuel 11-12).

When ordered by the king to sleep with him Bathsheba had no choice in the matter. She was a vulnerable woman, especially so after the murder of her husband. Did she have mixed feelings about the child she was carrying? We will never know, but undoubtedly the loss of the child, only a few weeks old, would have been painful. Her agony of heart at her losses was not just hers. As a direct result of his sin, David, years later, would lose his favourite son Absalom.

His lament recorded in II Samuel 18:33 conveys the agonies he experienced: The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you— O Absalom, my son, my son! 

Our focus here is on Bathsheba. What a strange way to refer to her: whose mother had been Uriah’s wife…  She was the woman who in the eyes of some people was of no particular significance. What was her actual name? Bathsheba means literally: ‘daughter of Sheba’ or possibly ‘descendant of Sheba’, because Matthew is not including all the people who might be in this genealogy. It is a selective use of names for a particular purpose as Matthew builds up to the revelation of the angel in this same chapter who will privately reveal to Joseph the name of his son. Matthew 1:21 states: She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.’

God was saying here through the inclusion of this woman that she was of value and great worth to Him. Each person matters to God whether you are young or old, rich or poor, or of whatever racial heritage. Bathsheba in human terms was powerless to control so much of her life, but God knows her name, just as He knows yours and mine. You matter to Him. In whatever circumstance you find yourself in the coming week or weeks, remember alongside any petitions you may bring to Him, also to bring Him your praises and offerings of thankfulness, for Jesus’ names sake, Amen.      

Our song for reflection is: ‘At the name of Jesus’ 

Brian Talbot