When independent Bathsheba Everdine inherits a large farm she becomes the object of affection for three very different suitors. Reliable shepherd Gabriel Oak, wealthy, middle-aged businessman Michael Boldwood and the dashing but reckless sergeant Francis Troy. Here she sings with Michael Boldwood whilst Gabriel and her other staff look on.
Gabriel had proposed to Bathsheba at the start of the film, before she was a landowner, and his affection for her has never really left him. Michael Boldwood’s love grows after she sends him a hastily posted Valentine’s Card. Both men are desperate to win her and spend much of their time patiently waiting for her to respond.
In the Old Testament God is frequently referred to as a lover, often a spurned one. A brokenhearted person who has been abandoned by the one to whom he is totally devoted. Ezekiel tells a story (Ezekiel ch 16) about the God who rescues the one he loves only to have her abandon him and run around with anyone else she can find. The writer of Proverbs encourages us to guard our hearts, to keep them on the right track. It’s so easy to lose them to the wrong kind of love. In Far From the Madding Crowd Sergeant Troy brings a selfish and reckless love into Bathsheba’s life, and when she is distracted by him she ends up damaged. It’s so easy to be distracted from our dedication to God. I get distracted all the time. It’s not difficult at all. Giving my time and energy to other things too much. Thankfully the God of the Bible is patient and kind, and willing to wait for us, time and again, to return to the love he offers us. ‘The LORD is kind, merciful and gracious;’ so psalm 103 v 8 tells us, ‘he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.’