As the adventures recorded in the book of First Samuel came to a conclusion, the royal reign of Saul concluded too. Saul died in battle and soon David was inaugurated as king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4). At the same time, the northern tribes chose Saul’s son Ish-bosheth as their king and civil war ensued.
At the ripe-old-age of thirty (2 Samuel 5:4), David set up his headquarters in Hebron and served as king of Judah for seven and a half tumultuous years. “During the long war between the house of Saul and the house of David, David was growing stronger and the house of Saul was becoming weaker” (2 Samuel 3:1). Eventually Saul’s family lost control and David was named king over all the land of Israel. David reigned as king for a total of forty years (2 Samuel 5:4).
David was a great king. I wish that I could say that “the man after God’s own heart” was a great family man. He wasn’t. In fact, in many ways, his failure at home became his great downfall. Look what happened when he first became king of Judah in Hebron.
“Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelite; his second was Chileab, by Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third was Absalom, son of Maacah the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur; the fourth was Adonijah, son of Haggith; the fifth was Shephatiah, son of Abital; the sixth was Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron” (2 Samuel 3:2–5).
I count six wives... Michal, the daughter of Saul, was also his wife. Seven wives, and counting.
After David became king over all of Israel, he moved the capital to Jerusalem. “David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him” (2 Samuel 5:13).
Long before David, during the days of Moses, God had given clear instruction. “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, take possession of it, live in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations around me,’ you are to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. Appoint a king from your brothers. You are not to set a foreigner over you, or one who is not of your people. However, he must not acquire many horses for himself... He must not acquire many wives for himself so that his heart won’t go astray. He must not acquire very large amounts of silver and gold for himself” (Deuteronomy 17:14–17).
Apparently, David didn’t read the law. He didn’t know that a king was not to have a whole harem of wives. Or maybe he did know the law, and simply rebelled against God.
Here’s a cautionary tale! A man shouldn’t have a dozen wives! “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (That’s singular, not plural!), and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NKJV). And, God’s law matters. Obedience matters.
David paid a high price for his disobedience. We will too.
All Scripture quotation, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.