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A profile of the the many wives and concubines of King David – Article

Wife of David

Here are the list of names of the wives of King David that are mentioned in the Bible.

  • Michal, daughter of Saul (1 Samuel 18:27)
  • Ahinoam of Jezreel (1 Samuel 25:43)
  • Abigail, widow of Nabal (1 Samuel 25:42-43)
  • Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur (2 Samuel 3:3)
  • Haggith (2 Samuel 3:4)
  • Abital (2 Samuel 3:4)
  • Eglah (2 Samuel 3:5)
  • Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:27)

A fun fact – of these eight wives, we know that three of them had other husbands. Michal was given to Phalti and was then taken away from him, Abigail was the wife of Nabal and becomes widowed after he dies and Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah who David arranges to be killed so that he can marry her!

David had other wives and concubines, but their names are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Here is a detailed breakdown on the 3 main wives of King David – Michal, Abigail and Bathsheba as well as the references to his other wives and concubines.

Michal – David’s first wife

Michal’s story begins with her love for David, whom she first met when he was a young shepherd boy. Despite her father’s initial plans to marry her off to someone else, Michal’s love for David remained steadfast. When Saul realized that Michal loved David, he saw an opportunity to use her as a pawn in his ongoing conflict with David. Saul promised Michal to David, hoping that she would become a snare to him. However, Michal’s love for David only grew stronger over time. When Saul’s servants informed David of Saul’s demands for a dowry of one hundred Philistine foreskins, David accepted the challenge and killed two hundred Philistines, presenting their foreskins to Saul to win Michal’s hand in marriage. Despite the dangers she faced as David’s wife, Michal remained loyal to him. When Saul sent men to kill David, Michal helped David escape, deceiving her father’s messengers by placing an image in David’s bed to make them think he was sick. When Saul confronted her about helping David escape, Michal cleverly replied that David threatened to kill her if she didn’t let him go.

After David escapes, Saul gives Michal to another man, Phalti, the son of Laish. In the meantime, David takes on multiple wives. Later, when David becomes king, he demands the return of Michal as his wife. Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, complies and takes her from Phalti, causing her husband Phalti to weep as he follows her.

David brings the Ark of the Lord into the city of David and he exuberantly celebrates the occasion. David, overcome with joy, dances before the Lord with all his might, wearing a linen ephod, and offering sacrifices. However, Michal, witnesses David dancing from a window and despises him in her heart. When David returns home to bless his household, Michal confronts him, commenting on his behavior. She criticizes David for his actions, accusing him of behaving shamelessly in front of the servants’ handmaids, saying, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!”. In response, David defends his actions, asserting that he was dancing before the Lord who had chosen him over her father Saul and his house to be the ruler over Israel. David declares that he will continue to humble himself and be even more undignified in his worship of the Lord. This event marks a turning point in their relationship, leading to a rift between them that is never fully healed. As a consequence of her attitude towards David, Michal had no child until the day of her death, suggesting that her relationship with David was strained and unproductive.

Following the troubled course of Michal’s life, the tragedy culminates with the devastating loss of the five sons of Adriel, who was the son of Barzillai the Meholathite that Michal was bringing up. King David delivers Michal’s five sons, whom she had raised for Adriel, to the Gibeonites along with the two sons of Rizpah. All seven sons are hanged before the Lord, a punishment that occurs during the days of harvest. This sorrowful event serves as a poignant conclusion to Michal’s story, reflecting the tragic consequences of her strained relationship with David.

Abigail – the widow that David takes as his wife

Abigail is introduced as the wife of Nabal a wealthy man of Carmel. She was known as a remarkable woman having great beauty and wisdom. Despite being married to a man described as churlish and evil, Abigail shines as a woman of good understanding. When David and his men seek provisions from Nabal during sheep-shearing time, Nabal responds rudely, refusing to help them. However, Abigail takes matters into her own hands. She gathers a generous gift of food and wine, and without informing her husband, she sets out to meet David and his men.

Upon meeting David, Abigail humbly bows before him and begs for forgiveness, taking full responsibility for her husband’s actions. She acknowledges David’s righteous cause and prophesies his future as king. Her words and actions impress David, who praises her wisdom and blesses her for preventing him from taking revenge. Abigail returns home to find Nabal feasting and drunk, and wisely chooses to wait until morning to tell him of her encounter with David.

When Nabal learns of Abigail’s actions, his heart fails him, and ten days later, God smote Nabal and he dies. David, upon hearing of Nabal’s death, recognizes God’s justice and sends for Abigail to take her as his wife. Abigail, in her humility, accepts this new chapter in her life and becomes one of David’s wives, standing out as a beacon of grace, wisdom, and strength in challenging circumstances.

After considering his precarious situation with Saul, David decided to escape to the land of the Philistines. He took his six hundred men and went to Achish, the king of Gath. There, David and his men settled with their families. Among them were David’s two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, the Carmelitess, who used to be Nabal’s wife before his death.

Later on in David’s story, David and his men return to Ziklag to find it burned and their families taken captive by the Amalekites. Among the captives were David’s two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail. David was greatly distressed, and the people even spoke of stoning him. However, David encouraged himself in the Lord and sought guidance through the priest Abiathar. With the Lord’s assurance of success, David pursued the Amalekites with his men. Along the way, they encountered an Egyptian servant who led them to the Amalekite camp. David and his men attacked, defeating the Amalekites and recovering all that was taken, including his wives.

Chileab was the second son of David which Abigail bore for him. Abigail is a memorable figure in biblical history marked by her actions that exemplified her courage, intelligence, and resourcefulness.

Ahinoam – David’s wife from Jezreel

Ahinoam, one of David’s wives, hailed from Jezreel. She, along with Abigail, accompanied David during his stay with Achish, the king of Gath, to escape Saul’s pursuit. Later on in David’s story, David and his men return to Ziklag to find it burned and their families taken captive by the Amalekites. Among the captives were David’s two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail. David was greatly distressed, and the people even spoke of stoning him. However, David encouraged himself in the Lord and sought guidance through the priest Abiathar. With the Lord’s assurance of success, David pursued the Amalekites with his men. Along the way, they encountered an Egyptian servant who led them to the Amalekite camp. David and his men attacked, defeating the Amalekites and recovering all that was taken, including his wives. Ahinoam bore David his firstborn son, Amnon.

David’s children by his many wives

2 Samuel 3:2-5

[2] And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
[3] And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
[4] And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
[5] And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.

David takes more wives and concubines

2 Samuel 5:13

[13] And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.

Bathsheba – The wife of another who caught David’s eye

Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, became one of King David’s wives after a series of tragic events. While her role in the events leading up to her marriage with David is somewhat passive, she is central to one of the most notorious incidents in David’s reign.

Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah, a valiant soldier in David’s army. David, while walking on the roof of his palace one evening, saw Bathsheba bathing and was overcome by her beauty. He inquired about her and learned that she was married to Uriah. Despite this, David sent for her and they committed adultery while her husband was away at war. Bathsheba became pregnant, and David, in an attempt to cover up his sin, recalled Uriah from the battlefront, hoping that he would sleep with his wife and thus the child would be thought to be his. However, Uriah’s loyalty to his fellow soldiers and sense of duty prevented him from doing so.

David then plotted Uriah’s death by placing him in the forefront of the battle, where he was killed. After Uriah’s death, Bathsheba mourned, and David took her as his wife. Despite their marriage and the birth of of their first child, the way their relationship began, with David’s adultery and Uriah’s death, was displeasing to the Lord. Nathan the prophet confronted David about his sin, and David repented. However, their first child died as a consequence of God’s judgment on their sin. They later had another son, Solomon, who would become one of Israel’s greatest kings.

When David was old and feeble, Adonijah, David’s son, began to make a bid for the throne. Bathsheba, guided by the prophet Nathan, took decisive action. Recognizing the potential threat to Solomon’s succession, Bathsheba approached David with Nathan’s counsel. She reminded David of his promise that Solomon would be his successor. Nathan supported her plea, affirming the divine favor upon Solomon’s reign. Bathsheba’s intervention was instrumental in persuading David to publicly declare Solomon as his heir, thwarting Adonijah’s attempt to usurp the throne.

After Solomon became king and his throne was established, Adonijah, David’s son, approached Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, requesting her help in asking Solomon for permission to marry Abishag, the Shunammite, a young woman who had cared for the elderly David. Bathsheba agreed to speak to Solomon on Adonijah’s behalf. When Bathsheba went to Solomon with Adonijah’s request, Solomon questions Bathsheba’s request, asking why she would specifically request Abishag for Adonijah, implying that this choice could be seen as a claim to the throne. He suggests that if she is asking for Abishag, she might as well ask for the kingdom for Adonijah too, emphasizing his understanding of the political implications of the request. Solomon saw through the scheme and ordered Adonijah’s execution, viewing his request as an act of treason against the established monarchy. Despite Bathsheba’s intentions to help Adonijah, Solomon’s decisive actions underscored his commitment to upholding the divine decree that he would be the rightful successor to David’s throne.

Despite the scandalous circumstances of Bathsheba’s marriage to King David and facing the tragic loss of her first born, later on, she plays a pivotal role in securing the throne for her son Solomon. However, her request for Abishag as a wife for Adonijah exposes a certain naivety or miscalculation, which Solomon swiftly corrects. While her story is often overshadowed by the actions of the men around her, Bathsheba’s strength and influence should not be underestimated as she played a crucial role in shaping the future of Israel.

The ten concubines of David

The ten concubines of King David faced a harrowing fate in the tumultuous events surrounding Absalom’s rebellion. Left behind in Jerusalem as David fled, they became a pawn in Absalom’s power play. They became a symbol of Absalom’s defiance as he publicly lay with them which was not only a personal betrayal of his father King David but also a political statement, solidifying his break with his father. In response, David, upon his return, kept the concubines in seclusion, providing for them but refraining from further intimate relations, which reflects both his sorrow and perhaps a recognition of their tarnished status in society. Their story is a somber reminder of the collateral damage often borne by those caught in the midst of political strife.

Abishag – David’s damsel aide

In his old age, King David was unable to generate heat, so his servants suggested finding a young virgin to lie with him and provide warmth. They searched all of Israel and found Abishag, a beautiful Shunammite woman, who was brought to the king. Abishag cared for and ministered to the king, but their relationship remained purely functional, as the king did not have intimate relations with her.

1 Kings 1:1-4

[1] Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.
[2] Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat.
[3] So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
[4] And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.

– By SAP for almondtreerod.com

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