King David, a Rapist?
22 October 2019 | Relevant Magazine recently quoted Adventist theologian Richard M. Davidson in the Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, as the evangelical magazine reported on recent discussion of whether biblical hero King David was a rapist.
The question was the subject of much social media debate in evangelical circles this month. Different views were expressed regarding King David’s actions described in 2 Samuel 11. In the passage, David sees Bathsheba, a married woman, bathing and calls for her to come to the palace. David sleeps with Bathsheba, impregnates her and later arranges for her husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle.
Davidson argues that there are signs in the original text that support the argument that David essentially forced Bathsheba to have sex with him.
In the October 9 article, Relevant reported that earlier this month, Gospel Coalition managing editor Matt Smetherst tweeted about the fallibility of biblical heroes, saying that David fornicated. Sexual abuse victims advocate Rachael Denhollander responded by saying that “David raped.”
David raped. It's important we get that right.
— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) October 4, 2019
Her claim led to much discussion and Denhollander pointed out that the power dynamic between King David and Bathsheba meant that the woman had little ability to refuse him. She said that the prophet Nathan’s condemnation of David, in which he likened him to a rich man taking the only lamb of a poor man, further heightened the portrayal of David as a powerful man simply taking what he wanted.
Davidson was quoted as saying that the language used to describe David’s summoning of Bathsheba “clearly implies psychological power pressure on the part of David and not voluntary collusion on the part of Bathsheba.”