2 Samuel 11:1-27

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1) Bathsheba's Sin?
  • Read 11:1-2
    • Not uncommon to view Bathsheba as a temptress, seducing the king
    • Bathsheba is “a willing and equal partner to the events that transpire” [Randall Bailey]
    • “Feminine flirtation” [H. W. Hertzberg]
    • “Bathsheba’s complicity in the sexual adventure.” [Lillian Klein]
    • “The text seems to imply that Bathsheba asked to be ‘sent for’ and ‘taken.’” [Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan]
Four Reasons Bathsheba is far more victim than villain:
A) Bathsheba's Honor
  • Verse 4 tells us the bath she was taking was a ritual bath to purify herself after her monthly cycle
  • "Bathsheba was simply taking a purificatory bath . . . without knowing that the ‘good’ King was spying on her. The specific mentioning of the time of the bath, (‘in the evening’) further exonerates Bathsheba. Since her seven day ritual impurity ended at sunset (evening) on the seventh day (Lev 15:19), then her taking of a ritual bath at that time is not unexpected. It was David’s inability to control his . . . passion stirred by the bathing woman’s beauty that made him send messengers to get Bathsheba. To blame Bathsheba . . . is tantamount to blaming her for David’s lack of self-control. Without doubt, Bathsheba was a victim of David’s . . . lust. We argue, consequently, against the suggestion that Bathsheba seduced David.
    • [Alexander Izuchukwu Abasili, “Was It Rape?: The David and Bathsheba Pericope Re-Examined,” Vetus Testamentum 61, no. 1 (2011): 15]
  • If she knew God's laws about ritual impurity, she certainly knew His laws against adultery
  • She knew the penalty for adultery was death
B) David's Dishonor
  • First, he's not going out to battle as expected but is lazily remaining in Jerusalem
  • Second, he's leering at his subjects from his palace
    • It was helpful for me in January to personally see the view of the Kidron Valley from David's palace...
  • "It is not unreasonable to assume that the generally-accepted code of decency in David’s day included the understanding that it was inappropriate to look out from one’s rooftop or upper-story down into the courtyard of a neighbor’s property at this time of day, out of respect for privacy, since this was the normal time for baths to be taken. Still today this is part of an unwritten but strictly-enforced code of ethics prevalent in Middle Eastern culture"
    • [Did King David Rape Bathsheba? A Case Study in Narrative Theology by Richard M. Davidson. Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 17/2 (Autumn 2006): 81–95.]
C) David's Power
  • Consider the verbs in these verses:
    • David saw . . . sent . . . inquired . . . sent . . . took . . . lay ...
    • But what about Bathsheba?!? She . . . "came to him" (v. 4)
    • Same verb used of Uriah in v. 7 ("Uriah came to him")
  • Neither Bathsheba nor Uriah had much of a choice!!
    • "That the authority of David’s command was not to be trifled with is also confirmed in the later experience of Uriah: 'Uriah’s noncompliance with David’s suggestions, commands, and manipulations cost him his life.' Bathsheba is portrayed as “a powerless woman who was victimized by the conglomeration of David’s power, gender, and violence.”
      • [Did King David Rape Bathsheba? A Case Study in Narrative Theology by Richard M. Davidson. Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 17/2 (Autumn 2006): 81–95.]
D) David's Condemnation
  • Read v. 27 
    • The thing David (not Bathsheba) had done. . . 
    • Also, in chapter 12 Nathan rebukes David, not Bathsheba
      • Nathan's parable presents David as a rich thief who takes what doesn't below to him and Bathsheba as an innocent lamb.
  • Read 12:13-14
    • David, not Bathsheba, is the sinner who is being punished
But the thing about sin is it always causes collateral damage. And Bathsheba, is not just a victim of David's sin, but she's affected by the consequences of David's sin...
2) Bathsheba's Shame
  • Read vv. 4b-5
    • These are the only words Bathsheba speaks in the entire narrative
    • I think her shame runs much deeper than the fact that she's found herself pregnant outside of her marriage to Uriah
  • "Given the context of (at least psychological) coercion in this passage, the best modern expression to describe David’s action is “power rape,” in which a person in a position of authority abuses that “power” to victimize a subservient and vulnerable person sexually, whether or not the victim appears to give “consent.” David, the king, appointed by God to defend the helpless and vulnerable, becomes a victimizer of the vulnerable. Just as intercourse between an adult and a minor, even a “consenting” minor, is today termed “statutory rape,” so the intercourse between David and his subject Bathsheba (even if Bathsheba, under the psychological pressure of one in power over her, acquiesced to the intercourse) is understood in biblical law, and so presented in this narrative, to be a case of rape—what today we call “power rape,” and the victimizer, not the victim, is held accountable." 
    • [Did King David Rape Bathsheba? A Case Study in Narrative Theology by Richard M. Davidson. Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 17/2 (Autumn 2006): 81–95.]
    • Careful to note that the Bible doesn't use modern terms like "power rape," but it describes it even if it uses different terms
Justin & Lindsey Holcomb write sexual assault is “any type of sexual behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained and is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority.” [Rid of My Disgrace, 28]
Enduring this type of abuse from another (especially someone you trust to love and protect you) always leads to shame...
  • Sometimes shame is related to our own sin
  • Sometimes shame is related to being sinned against
Ed Welch: two types of shame (1) Shame from sinning and (2) Shame from being sinned against 
  • “Shame from . . .sinful victimization is more difficult to resolve. Though the shame from [personal] sin is the deeper spiritual problem of the two, in many ways it is easier to cover. Such shame can be covered through a confession of sin, repentance, and faith in the finished work of Jesus. . . . Shame from victimization can be more stubborn. Confession of sin cannot release it because the victim is not the guilty party.” [When People Are Big And God is Small, 65]
A few months ago Rachael Denhollander shared a piece she wrote about her own battle with shame after being abused by Nassar as a young girl:
Why didn’t you cry out? He probably would have stopped if you had. In fact, if he thought you would, it probably wouldn’t have happened at all. Why didn’t you cry out?
Why? Because I trusted. I was a child. He was a doctor. He knows best. He had cared for me. He knew me. There had to be a reason. I must be reading too much into it. It isn’t fair to assume he was being sexual. Think about who he is. Give the benefit of the doubt. I must be the one with the dirty mind if I can even think something like that.
Terror. Shame. Confusion. Shattered trust. Humiliation. Horror. Revulsion. Dirty. Used.
How could you not cry out?
I didn’t know.
Foolish. How could you not know?
Because I trusted.
It’s over.
But it’s not done.
You didn’t cry out.
I did inside.
Is that enough?
If you've been a victim of the abuse of another, you may feel dirty. You may feel like damaged goods. 
  • We will work hard to listen to you, to grieve with you, to help you, and not to blame you
  • If you've been the victim of any form of abuse, we will trust civil authorities to investigate. The church does not have the resources or the authority to investigate claims of assault or abuse. 
The collateral damage of sin is greater than just feelings of shame, as devastating as those are. It also leads to real sorrow.
3) Bathsheba's Sorrow
  • David's attempts to cover up his sin, culminating in Uriah's murder
  • Read v. 26
    • "She doesn’t merely engage in customary “mourning” (v. 27) but “wails/laments with loud cries” (v. 26). The narrator here “uses a strong verb to express her wailing and lamentation, much more heavily freighted with emotion than the one he uses in the next verse of the rites of mourning.”
      • [Did King David Rape Bathsheba? A Case Study in Narrative Theology by Richard M. Davidson. Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 17/2 (Autumn 2006): 81–95.]
  • Your sorrow may be different from Bathsheba's:
    • Read page 39, Rid of My Disgrace
CHURCH: We must bear with those who feel like damaged goods
SINNER: See what your sin does!!!!
I know this is a tough text, but there is so much hope here when we understand the Good News of the Gospel!
4) Bathsheba's Savior
Bathsheba's sorrow is not the end of the story! She'll later have a baby named Solomon and from his line will come the Messiah!
  • The Gospel means we can actually condemn wrongdoing
    • By what standard do you say abuse is wrong?!
    • C.S. Lewis -- "My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it?"
  • The Gospel means we can have confidence that justice will be satisfied
    • Abusers will not get away with it!!!
    • BUT DAVID DID!!!!
    • No he didn't, the son of David died in his place
    • GOSPEL!!!!
  • The Gospel means we have someone who can identify with us in our shame
    • Hebrews 12:2 -- Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The message of Christmas isn't for the holy and the whole, but for those who feel like they’re damaged goods like Bathsheba, and like you and me.