Like many of us, Boyle had been told a version of 2 Samuel 11 and 12 that portrayed Bathsheba as the evil seductress, deliberately bathing where she would be seen and desired by the king. Boyle writes, ‘We wanted to hold onto our view of David as being almost sinless to the detriment of the power of the grace of God in our lives.... Surely, Bathsheba must have been somehow complicit in this relationship because David could not have fallen so far as to actually take a married woman against her will and rape her. And not just any woman, but the woman married to his "mighty man" Uriah, a trusted "general" if you will, in his army, and the daughter of his other "mighty warrior" Eliam, who was the son of Ahithophel, one of David's greatest counselors.’ And yet, she points out, this was a time when David should have been off at war. He didn’t seem to even know who Bathsheba was. By the customs of the time, she had no choice when he sent for her.
Boyle also examines the role of David’s trusted advisor Ahithophel. “When you trace Ahithophel's story, you see a man who works with [David’s son] Absalom to plot the downfall and death of his king--why?? I believe it is his vengeance against David for raping his beloved granddaughter and dishonoring her, and killing his beloved adopted grandson, Uriah. Check out 2 Samuel 16:20-17:4 and note his advice to kill David. In one translation, you get the idea that he was ready to lead the troops himself to see David dead! David had to have done something very bad to have incurred Ahithophel's hatred that finally expressed itself so lethally.”
Boyle says she has ‘known and prayed with a number of women sexually abused by their fathers. I also have known a number of women sexually abused by their "pastors" and youth pastors, and other trusted men in their lives, including a college prof who insisted on sexual favors to receive good grades.’ Thus she chose to approach this well-know story in a fresh new way.
LeAnne Hardy recently had the opportunity to ask Lorita about the writing of Bathsheba’s Lament.
LH: What do you hope that readers who have experienced sexual violence will take away from this book?
LB: My prayer is that they will find hope in Bathsheba's story and be able to see their need to forgive their abuser. There is a saying "unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." In my own life (I had a very emotionally and verbally abusive father), and in the lives of others I know, the only way out of bitterness, anger and unforgiveness is to forgive. I also know how Jesus is ready to help us to do this if we're willing. I think many people do not forgive because they do not understand that forgiving someone DOES NOT mean you in any way agree that what they did was right or deserved. In fact, to forgive, you need to first admit that what was done to you (especially in the case of abuse) was wrong, was painful, and was undeserved, and speak this out - or write this out. But ultimately, to be free of those who've wounded us in some way, we have to "untie" the bonds, as it were, by forgiving them and releasing them into God's hands, to receive his "justice" and "vengeance." In essence, when we forgive we're handing the person over to God to extract whatever vengeance is deserved, and to receive it in his timing. This does NOT mean that a woman never seeks to have her abuser brought to justice within our own system. If a woman is raped, she should have the rapist arrested, so that our own justice system can work for her. Bathsheba lived in a very different time than we do, although many women in this world still live in a cultural system very much like hers. But Jesus was very clear when he gave us "The Lord's Prayer" - "forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."
LH: What do you have to say to readers who have been disillusioned by the failures of Christian leaders like David?
LB: I understand how we do, and to some extent should, hold our leaders to a higher standard. But the truth is we are all fallen creatures in desperate need of a compassionate and loving God, and Savior. I also believe our expectations of our leaders are often beyond what anyone could ever live up to. We may be disillusioned, but we also are called to forgive. We serve a God who is full of grace towards us. I pray we may give that same grace to others, it is such a precious gift to receive and to give!
LH: How did you go about the historical and setting research?
LB: I used the Internet, many books, and also IVP's Women's Commentary of the Bible, which was a wonderful resource. Eugene Peterson's Leap over Walls on Psalms of David was a good resource as well. Someday, I do hope to visit Israel myself!
LH: I loved all the psalms that you included. They were so significant in the context. What was most difficult about the research and what did you enjoy the most?
LB: Honestly, there's not a whole lot that's been found about that time in history, and you'll find there's a lot of controversy around David and his very existence! So that was the hard part. The most enjoyable was finding the bits and pieces of history of that time I did find and even a possible diagram of his palace. Honestly, sometimes I got so caught up in reading my resources that I had to discipline myself to write!
LH: Thank you, Lorita. May Bathsheba’s Lament touch many hearts. To read my review of Bathsheba's Lament, including excerpts, check out my blog.
Lorita has graciously agreed to give away a copy of the book. To be eligible for the drawing, make your comment here by Sunday 23 January 2011 and include your e-mail address, substituting (at) and (dot) for the usual punctuation. All readers are eligible for an electronic copy. Unfortunately, a print copy can only be sent within the U.S.
(This giveaway is void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.)
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books for young people come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will impact lives. You can find out more at www.leannehardy.net .