Author. Speaker. Prayer Minister. Bible Teacher.
Founder – Empower A Woman
Copyright © AMANDA BEDZRAH 2022
Evelyn House Publishing
Editor: Wendy H. Jones
Printed in the United Kingdom
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission, in writing, from the author and publisher.
This novel is a work of fiction, based on the Bible story in the book of 2 Samuel, and should be read as such. There is no intention from the author to suggest this story is historical fact. Readers are encouraged to read the Bible.
A book like this cannot be written except by the grace of the Almighty God. Without Him, this book would only be a dream
in my heart. I am thankful and truly humbled that God entrusted me with this story and gave me the courage to be firm in my convictions, to listen to His promptings as He whispered thoughts and ideas for this book.
I want to say thank you to my husband, Francois, and our three children. Your love and understanding enabled me to hide away many days and nights to write, your support and encouragement was the fuel I needed to keep going. I love you all so much.
I also want to say a huge thank you to my sisters, Efe and Eruke. Your consistent love and support are unrivalled. You girls make life so much easier, and you have been with me each step of the way, praying for this book, and listening to all my worries and concerns. Thank you so much.
To my dear girlfriends, you are my biggest cheerleaders. You know that I am so thankful for you all.
To my spiritual mums and mentors – Carol Bostock and Rev. Victoria Lawrence, your prayers and words of encouragement have carried me through this journey. I am forever thankful.
c.990 BCE Jerusalem
United Kingdom of Israel
As the sun fades in the sky, I sit rocking gently, gazing out of the vast window of the King’s inner chamber and watching hints of orange flicker over golden brown clouds. My son suckles at my breast on this night before his first year on earth. The banquet room is already laid out: one hundred seats at the table, with the finest silver and gold plates, cups and cutlery at each place. The guests will arrive early next day, travelling from near and far, some for days, honouring the King’s invitation.
One hundred lambs were slaughtered earlier this day; the night is still thick with the fire from the smoke used to roast them in preparation for the morning. A seamstress arrived from Egypt more than a month ago, to sew the woven fabric for every royal in the house.
Though the sun is setting, the King is still on the throne, attending to matters of the nation of Israel. I am alone in his private quarters in the West wing of the palace. I look around me; the room is huge and quiet. How did I get here? I have asked myself this question at least a million times. Each time I try to think about it I am faced with painful memories. I paid a huge price for the crown that rests on my head. The more I think, the more I come to realize the cost, the pain, the sacrifice — the truth. Buried within my soul are words I have dared not speak or imagine; and yet, are dying to break free. Perhaps, someone somewhere may find comfort in my truth, in my journey, in my pain to becoming the woman I am today. It is for this reason I allow my mind to run freely today, closing my eyes and thinking back to three years previously, to the day it all began. I must remember, and I must write it down.
I place my son in the large woven basket filled with the softest wool blankets and equally soft cushions: I walk over to the large desk where paper and ink wait for me. I pick up the pen. I dip it in the ink. I apply it to the parchment… It is time to tell my story.
It has been many weeks since I last saw my husband Uriah, who was away in battle, fighting to protect the nation of Israel. Sadly, this was not the first time he had been gone for more days than I could count — a situation to which I never became accustomed. Many years ago, when we were first married, we had one glorious, uninterrupted year together. According to our custom, no man was sent to war or put to work during this time; a custom which allowed us to enjoy our time as man and wife: our love grew deep.
As a trusted warrior for King David, Uriah has been in more battles than most other soldiers. One of the King’s Thirty, chosen under oath and appointed by the King himself. This was one of the things I loved most about him. How ironic that the best part of him seemed to be the worst part — both a blessing and a curse! Uriah worked harder than all the others to be chosen as one of the Thirty. He had to! As a foreigner from the far region of the Hittites, he first had to prove himself loyal to our God, then to the Crown, and, lastly, to the people of Israel. It did not matter that he could swing the sword with ease and precision; it mattered more who it was pointed at, and it took him many years to establish the trust required to be accepted into the army of God, Yahweh as I fondly call Him.
I loved the way he loved his job. The pride in his face when he told me stories about the battles he fought, the places he visited, and the victories they enjoyed was always the highlight of his return. I enjoyed every minute of it, hanging on his every word. These stories, good or bad, all fascinated me.
My grandfather Ahithopel, who I called Saba, was one of the King’s chief advisors; my father, Eliam, was also one of the Thirty. So, I grew up hearing war stories and tales from lands far away. My mother, unlike me, did not like the war stories. I was different to most women all of whom detested the sight of blood or description of battle. I loved to hear every minute detail and Uriah spared nothing. He told stories in such a way that I felt I was riding a horse on the battle ground, in the middle of a war fighting for my life, hearing the clashing of swords and the cries of battle, the iron smell of spilled blood filling my nostrils. Fear clutched at my chest almost stopping my heart beating.
There were also times of mending wounds. I remember so well the first time Uriah came back wounded from battle. Oh, how I cried for days. A sword had sliced through his chest, barely missing his heart. It took many herbs, many physicians, and many months to heal. At many points I was fearful he would not heal and that he would leave to be with Yahweh.
Dare I share this secret? I’m ashamed to say I prayed for him not to heal quickly; and twice, maybe even three times, I put aside the herbs for strength and, instead, gave him the ones for sleep. This kept him weaker for longer. I wanted him home. I wanted him safe. I did not want him to go to battle again. I prayed he would be declared unfit for war and become one of the King’s foot soldiers guarding the city gates. More than once I wished it was an arm the sword hit and not his chest. No one fought with a one-armed soldier, but I could be very happily married to a one- armed man. However, my prayers went unanswered. Please, don’t judge me. I loved my husband; perhaps you can understand that – my willingness to have him safe and alive. The love within me burned far stronger than the satisfaction I got from the stories or spoils of war.
To my initial disappointment, he got better, much quicker than I expected and was on his feet eager to be back to the field. I did confess my sin to him, one night many months later. He told me, his voice stern, how disappointed he was. It cut deep as he looked away and spat on the ground to emphasise his displeasure, banishing me to the inner sanctum while he decided my punishment.
I made no sound as I waited in my own inner room as jumbledthoughts raced through my mind. It was not uncommon for a man to take a rm whip to his wife. While I dreaded this, I felt Ideserved it. And if he truly wanted to, he could cast me asideand marry another. I rubbed my eyes with shaking ngers,attempting to stop my mind from darting in too many directions. I smacked my lips, cursing myself for sharing too much.Why did I do so? All it took was a few raisin cakes and onegoblet of wine and my tongue was loose. Oh, why did I drinkthat wine? I don’t have a head for it. Yet the stories seem somuch funnier after a goblet of wine, even the ones when anenemy’s head is chopped of, or when the weaker men beg formercy. Although it was a mere few minutes that I sat in theroom, banished like a naughty child, it felt like many hours hadpassed before I heard the door open and shut.
Uriah came to sit beside me quietly. “I have thought of a suitable punishment for you,” he said through clenched teeth.
I wiped the water dripping from my forehead, with my scarf,before covering my mouth with my hand trying not to screamfrom the fear that boiled within me.
He turned and looked at me as I avoided looking at him, myeyes searching his hands for a whip or anything else he coulduse to hurt me. My skin was tender, having been brushed overand over for more than a week by the Egyptian slave myhusband bought for me. She had prepared me for his returnafter hearing rumours from the town gate that a foot soldierhad arrived at the palace a few days before to inform them toprepare for the King’s return. Because of the brushing,anything Uriah did would bruise and hurt me. Please Yahweh,don’t let him hurt me. My prayer ew heavenwards.
He must have sensed my anxiety as he cleared his throat to getmy attention. “Your punishment is thus.” His voice thundered.”No more wine, no more stories. You will stay up all night and please me; perhaps I can ll you with a child to keep you busy,so you don’t miss me too much to want to kill me!”
Only then did I dare look into his eyes: the teasing smile thathung at the corner of his lips beckoned to me to draw closer. Ilet out a long sigh, and with a laughter louder than arespectable woman should exhibit, I eagerly slipped into hiswarm embrace. My Uriah! My love! How could I have everimagined he would hurt me?
No sooner did the thoughts form in my mind than the wordssprang from his lips: “I hope you had no fear that I would harmyou!”
When I could form no words to respond, he could see theanswer in my heart. He pulled me closer and whispered: “Theonly battles I ght are with the Lord’s enemies; never in myown home. I swear by the God you serve, who gave me thestrength I live by, that these arms will be to you only a shieldand never a sword.”
Then the night air was lled with the melody of love played bythe bodies of two people playing a tune written in their hearts.Through his eyes, I had seen so much of life; through his wordsand actions I had heard and felt so much more.