Getting to Grips with the Genres: Narrative (2)

So if narratives function through plot, how does that look in 2 Samuel 11 and following? What is the rhetorical impact of the story of David and Bathsheba?

Narrative affects the reader/hearer through association or disassociation with/from the main characters. The story contains five parts. Background/Introduction: David should be at war like the other kings, but instead is in the palace lounging around on a sofa. He sees Bathsheba, lusts, fornicates, and sends her away. Inciting incident: David finds out that Bathsheba is pregnant. Rising action: David attempts to save face by bringing the noble Uriah home from war (Interesting to note that Uriah is one of David’s 30 mighty men – 2 Samuel 23:39). Uriah refuses to sleep with his wife after two attempts by David. Uriah is sent back to war with a letter sealing his own death. Uriah is killed. David receives news and comforts his commander. David marries Bathsheba and the baby is born – months go by. Climax: David is confronted by Nathan the prophet. Resolution: David repents and finds forgiveness for his sin… but forgiveness does not annul loss and pain. His son through Bathsheba dies. A son (Solomon) is promised to Bathsheba.

As this story moves along, listeners/hearers inherently associate with/from pre-Nathan David, Bathsheba, Uriah, Nathan, and post-Nathan David. The rhetorical impact is different for each person. For some there is comfort, for others there is conviction, etc. Like David, the story urges some to confess sin. Like Uriah, it encourages some to remain faithful to the Lord despite the wickedness and sin of others. Like Nathan, it urges some to confront sin in others. Like Bathsheba, it comforts the weak.

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