Originally posted in Rabyd Theologian 2.0 on January 26th, 2011.
Now David was a man after God’s own heart right? Did that also include that we know for sure the guy was married to eight wives and had ten concubines as well. In addition there are other wives and concubines hinted at but unnamed. It is good to be King. The great thing about this is that it illustrates so many of the concepts we have been talking about up to this point.
Michal was David’s first wife, she was the daughter of Saul and is given to David because he slew Goliath. At first this seems to be a couple very much formed in covenant style even though it is an arranged marriage. She helps David escape from her father. After that the relationship goes down hill. Saul gives her to another man and David after Saul’s death has to get her back. I think once she discovered that she was not the only wife at that time, things got a little strained. Then there is the famous dancing before the ark incident where she makes fun of David’s naked worship. She never bears David a child because of it.
While in Hebron, on the run and ruling over Judah, David marries six women: Ahinoam, Abigail, Maachah, Haggith, Abital and Eglah. Abigail is the most noteworthy as she saves her former husband from death only to have him die from the hand of God so she is free to marry David. Each of these women provides David with a son: Absolom and Amnon notable names among them. After they get to Jerusalem, he gets other sons and daughters through them as well. Talk about spreading out your gene pool.
Wife eight is Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah the Hittite. David’s sin is chronicled well in the Bible but on thing of note is after Bathsheba is indeed David’s wife, they have many sons including Solomon and their relationship seems close at the time. This closeness does not seem to last though, as in the end David and Bathsheba sleep in different rooms and she has to bow down before him to get her son Solomon the throne.
Perhaps the reason David does lose this close relationship to Bathsheba is the fact that he also takes on ten concubines. In this case, there does not seem to be procreation as the goal. David already has many descendants. There is only one word that this is about — SEX. The reason he makes them concubines is if a pregnancy does result from his party time, they are covered by a marriage contract. This however introduces the concept of marriage as a pleasure contract not necessarily for procreation. A way to make your personal house of ill repute not to have ill repute. Nothing like a legal brothel so when you head to bed you know there is a warm willing female waiting. David feels something for these ladies though, as after they are defiled by Absolom, he makes sure they are taken care of for the rest of their life but he never touches them again.
Now there is some debate about the fact David took all of King Saul’s former wives (Saulie-boy was a polygamist as well). It was common practice among kings to take the wives of other kings they had conquered. David does this, but was this an event where he made them his own wives and had sex with them or did he just assume responsibility for them because of Johnathan. Were they his wives or just his responsibility? The Bible does not say but the idea behind it would be they became his wives and that means sealing the contract with sexual intercourse. David getting more tail and getting to be a man after God’s own heart in the bargain – Damn.
The sad thing about all these wives is that David never seems to have a one flesh/covenant type relationship with one of them exclusively. It seems that way briefly with Michal, Abigail and Bathsheba, but no one keeps David’s full attention. When it came to his wives and concubines, David seems to be content with contract relationships for the purpose of creating descendants or pleasure, but he seems to have no interest in becoming one flesh with a single woman exclusively. David seems to be a man who simply had a large sexual appetite and had the ability to fulfill it because he was both prosperous and had power. He also had the rational that because he was king, he had to insure he had a son to take throne after his death.
Next: Solomon: Extreme Polygamist