Recently, sexual abuse advocate, Rachael Denhollander, claimed in a Twitter exchange concerning the relationship King David had with Bathsheba, "I believe the text [2 Samuel 11-12] supports rape for many reasons..."
Denhollander's claim began a flurry of responses from several sectors. Bott Radio host and Christian journalist, Janet Mefferd, was among those who took issue with Denhollender's claim. "Why doesn’t the Bible say Bathsheba was raped when it clearly says that Tamar was raped? Adulterous seduction and rape, while both wrong, are not synonymous. Powerful men can commit either sin."
Mefferd later rightly concluded "Women should never get a pass on bad exegesis simply because they’re women."
Others chimed in. Indeed some comments were confusing.
Allow me to consider one.
Baptist theologian Malcolm Yarnell placed his hermeneutical bet on the table in favor of Denhollander by quoting from his most recent book, Who is the Holy Spirit? Insights into His Divine Person. He tweets, 'Yes, @R_Denhollander’s exegesis is correct. “David thought he was better than Uriah and smarter than God. He was neither. David added murder to his crimes and a second cover-up, this time not of rape but of murder.” From my latest book: “Who Is the Holy Spirit?” (B&H, 2019), 38'
While it remains undeniable that Dr. Yarnell appears to have tragically yielded himself to the shift Drs. Danny Akin, Russell Moore, and JD Greear have directed the Southern Baptist Convention, he nonetheless remains an important Southern Baptist theologian. That's basically why it's difficult to understand why he would make such a confusing public statement about David and Bathsheba quoting from his book.
It's true in Yarnell's book on the Holy Spirit, he indicated David added murder to rape (p.38) from which he categorically concluded that "Denhollender's exegesis is correct.". But that's not all Yarnell says in his book. Two times just before indicating rape, Yarnell explicitly states David committed adultery with Bathsheba.
"The King sent for the bathing beauty, whose name was Bathsheba and his lustful heart led his willing body into full-fledged adultery [...] If David's first abuse of power was to excuse himself from work, and his second abuse of power was to set the stage for adultery, then his third abuse of power was to use state assets to cover-up" (emphasis added, link).
That's not all. Later when Nathan the Prophet shows up to confront David with his despicable sin (2 Sam 12:1-4), Yarnell describes what perhaps was the shock on David's face,
"One may imagine the shock on David's face at being exposed for what he really was: a lazy, leering, adulterous, lying, abusive, murderous rich man who had abused his powers to take away both the only love and the very life of a poor, virtuous person"
Subsequently, Yarnell penned an excellent exegesis of David's penitential Psalm 51, a Psalm many Old Testament scholars believe David wrote in response to Nathan's prophetic encounter with him. In his exegesis of verse 10, Yarnell reasons of David's repentance,
"Because his heart had been totally twisted by sin--evinced in his act of adultery, murder, and cover-up--David knew his whole inner makeup required a radical reordering" (emphasis added, link).
Hence, what we have coming from a renowned theologian appears to be very confusing. Either Yarnell equates rape with adultery which I highly doubt. Or, he mentioned "rape" in the one instance as a way of projecting the most extreme despicable nature of David's adultery with Bathsheba.
The only other option I can think of is Yarnell flat contradicted himself in his latest book.
For my part, I'm inclined to agree with the second option above. While he did mention "rape" once, Yarnell's over all view of David's sin with Bathsheba was a highly despicable, sinful adulterous act, a view which appears to be the more traditional view among scholars.
If I am correct, however, Dr. Yarnell has an even greater problem, actually an embarrassing one.
He misquoted himself.