Most Christians and non-Christians alike have heard the stories about a little shepherd boy who becomes king of Israel. But while God was raising up this mighty man of valor to be a fearless leader and man after His own heart, the women who would become King David’s wives were also being groomed to become a part of God’s redemptive plan. Their example can speak to wives today if we’ll listen.

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Who Were King David"s Wives and What Were They Known For?

In 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and in 1 Chronicles the Bible records the names of eight women who married King David. However, this list is not complete. Oftentimes biblical genealogies only mention the names of wives who have given birth to sons or who are otherwise noteworthy. Scripture tells us that David had other wives and many concubines, but their names and details are not mentioned (2 Samuel 5:13-16 and 1 Chronicles 14:3-5). Who were David’s named wives and what role did they play in his life? Let’s take a dive into Scripture to find out.

Michal was David’s first wife and King Saul’s daughter. David paid double the requested dowry when he presented Saul with 200 Philistine foreskins for her hand in marriage. Although David’s primary motive for marrying Michal seemed to be for political reasons, the Bible tells us Michal loved David. In fact, Michal’s love for David is theonly reference in the entire Bible that mentions a specific woman’s love for a man (1 Samuel 18:20).

Michal’s love for her husband compelled her to protect him from her father’s murderous plans. In an elaborate ruse, she helped David escape the palace before Saul could kill him (1 Samuel 19:11-18). Saul was furious with his daughter for her treachery. As punishment to her and an affront to David, the king married Michal off to another man named Paltiel.

After David became king he reclaimed Michal as his wife, much to Paltiel’s bereavement. Weeping loudly, Paltiel trailed after Michal when David’s servants came to collect her, until he was forcefully commanded to return home.

It’s believed that when Michal returned to David, her heart had become bitter toward him. This was evidenced by the rude and disrespectful comment she made to David after he entered Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant and “danced before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:20).

Sadly, whatever love she still possessed for him, Michal lacked the understanding to recognize the value of her husband’s zealous and humble devotion to the Lord (2 Samuel 6:21-22). Perhaps she desired his worship—as Paltiel had worshiped her—and was jealous of David’s flamboyant adoration of God. The last Biblical mention of Michal tells us that she died childless.

Abigailbecame David’s second wife while he was on the run from King Saul. Scripture describes her as intelligent and beautiful. She first encountered David while on a mission to save her husband, Nabal, from being killed. Nabal was a wicked and greedy man who refused to provide supplies to David and his men while they were hiding in the wilderness close to Carmel.

Even though David’s band of warriors had kindly protected Nabal’s land and workers, Nabal refused to return the hospitality when David requested it. Instead, Nabal insulted David by sending a message that said, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” (1 Samuel 25:10-11). Consequently, David and 400 of his men set out to kill Nabal.

When Abigail heard what her husband had done, she acted quickly to remedy the situation. She met David and his men on the road, apologized for Nabal’s reckless actions, and provided them with all the supplies they needed. When her husband discovered what Abigail had done, his heart failed him, and he died 10 days later. Upon hearing of Nabal’s death, David asked Abigail to be his wife and she accepted.

Ahinoamwas David’s third wife, but Scripture lists her before Abigail because she is known as the mother of David’s first son, Amnon. The story of Amnon is a disturbing one; he rapes his half-sister Tamar, and David does nothing about it. After that, “we see the unraveling of David’s dynasty as another son, Absolom, seethes in fury over his father’s inaction. Absolom takes matters into his own hands. He murders his brother, Amnon,” explains Catherine Segars inHow Do I Deal with the Terribly Disturbing Parts of Scripture?

Maakah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah became David’s wives during his seven and a half years of exile. Scripture doesn’t offer much information about these women, except that they all bore David sons in Hebron. “The third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;and the sixth, Ithream the son of David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron”(2 Samuel 3:2-5 and 1 Chronicles 3:1-3).

Bathsheba is the wife most people associate with David. She was the final woman named in the biblical list of David’s wives club. David and Bathsheba’s story is a sobering reminder of the consequences of blatant sin and a glorious example of God’s grace and forgiveness when sinners repent.

David first caught a glimpse of Bathsheba one evening while she was bathing on her rooftop. Lust overtook him, and even though Bathsheba was already married to a soldier named Uriah, David slept with her. When David found out she was pregnant, he tried to cover up his sin by calling Uriah home from the battlefield so that he could sleep with his wife. When Uriah refused to have relations with Bathsheba, out of duty and respect for the men still in battle, David sent him back into the war and had him killed so that Bathsheba would be free to marry him.

God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David about his grievous sin. David wholeheartedly repented and God mercifully forgave him, but the consequences of David’s sin plagued him for the rest of his days. Bathsheba’s first son died as a result of David’s transgression, but God gave them Solomon soon thereafter—who would one day take the throne and be listed in the lineage of our Savior.

Why Did God Allow David to Commit Polygamy?

When the question of divorce was brought to Jesus, His response was “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Matthew 19:8). In the same way, polygamy was never condoned by God.

Some biblical scholars suggest that the Old Testament kings received a special dispensation to marry multiple wives for political gain and to secure their position of power, but that goes against God’s original design and the clear guidelines set for kings inDeuteronomy 17. “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’ He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.”

Even though David is known as “a man after God’s own heart” he was still human and struggled with sin like every other human. David’s neglect of God’s guidelines for kings and warnings about polygamy led to years of calamity that may have been prevented had David fully trusted God’s ways. “His many wives resulted in many children with rivalries and unhealthy relationships with each other. In fact, this would fulfill a prophecy Nathan gave when he rebuked David for his infidelity: someone in his household would rebel against him, someone who would shame David by sleeping with David’s wives in public (2 Samuel 12:11-12),” explains Connor Salter inWho Were David"s Wives, and Why Should We Know Their Names?

3 Lessons Wives Today can Learn from King David’s Wives

Recognize, value, and nurture your husband’s love for the Lord. Michal was more concerned about her husband’s appearance than his heart. We need to give our husbands the freedom to serve and worship God with everything in them—even if it makes us uncomfortable or infringes upon a couple of times. Our husband’s hearts may be ours for the keeping (Proverbs 31:11), but they’re not ours for molding. We want our husbands to be conformed to the image of God, not the image we think they should present. Michal certainly had earned the right to be cherished by David, after all the sacrifices she’d made for him, but a wise woman will inspire and encourage her husband to love God more than anything or anyone else, including herself.

Be proactive in peacemaking. Wives have a daily choice to be pot-stirrers or peacemakers, especially where our husbands are concerned. It’s easy to take up an offense for someone we love or conversely play the blame game when they disappoint us. Abigail could have gotten on the David-hater bandwagon with Nabal, or she could have vented to a friend about all of Nabal’s faults. But she was wise enough to understand that her words could serve a greater purpose. She had the power to bring peace to a volatile situation. “Abigail showed great wisdom in acting quickly, swiftly, and speaking honorably to David. She took control of the situation that was potentially dangerous for them all. She didn’t just sit around and blame her husband or remain stuck in fear,” says Debbie McDanielin 5 Things All Women Can Learn from Abigail in the Bible

Never underestimate God’s ability to use evil for good. Bathsheba did nothing wrong. The sin and the fault rested squarely on David’s shoulders. Scripture is crystal clear about that (2 Samuel 2:14, 2 Sam. 12:3-4, 9). Bathsheba could not have refused the king’s advances any more than Esther could escape her fateful abduction (Esther 2:8). Those who say that Bathsheba’s rooftop bath in the dead of night was a seductive ploy are not relying on God’s word for their information. God punished David for his sin and the consequences of that sin remained with him for the rest of his life. Bathsheba was a victim, but she didn’t remain a victim. When our husbands fall and fail—even when they fall and fail at our expense—God can bring good out of evil (Genesis 50:20).

From the repentant ashes of a horrible, sinful situation, God brought Solomon, the seed that would bring forth Christ Jesus, the savior of the world.

Annette Marie Griffin is an award-winning author and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for more than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to benefit the community. Her passion is to help wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who have already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two adorable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the whole flock.

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This article is part of our People from the Bible Series featuring the most well-known historical names and figures from Scripture. We have compiled these articles to help you study those whom God chose to set before us as examples in His Word. May their lives and walks with God strengthen your faith and encourage your soul.

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