Bible Question:

How many wives did King David have?

Bible Answer:

Have you ever wondered how many wives David had? Only eight of wives of David are named in Scripture. But Scripture tells us that he had other wives plus a number of unknown concubines. Learn what the Bible teaches about each of his wives. The answers are provided in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles.

Wives of King David

Michal — David’s First Wife

King David’s first wife was Michal. She was one of Saul’s two daughters (1 Samuel 14:49) and the younger of the two daughters. We are told in 1 Samuel 18:20 that Michal loved David. That is the reason they eventually married.

Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. When they told Saul, the thing was agreeable to him. 1 Samuel 18:20 (NASB)

Seven verses later in 1 Samuel 18:27, we are told that Saul gave Michal to David after he killed one hundred Philistines. Saul demanded that David give him one hundred foreskins as proof that he had killed so many Philistines. Then the couple could marry. 1 Samuel 18: 25 tells us that Saul asked for this strange request in the hope that David would be killed. After David gave Saul the foreskins of one hundred Philistines, he was allowed to marry Michal.

David rose up and went, he and his men, and struck down two hundred men among the Philistines. Then David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. So Saul gave him Michal his daughter for a wife. 1 Samuel 18:27 (NASB)

Later, King Saul plotted to murder David. Michal heard about the plot, informed David and he fled (1 Samuel 19:11-12). After Saul heard about the deception, he punished her by giving her in marriage to Palti,the son of Laish (1 Samuel 25:44). Saul did this because he knew Michal loved David and she betrayed him.

Later after Saul died (1 Samuel 31:6), David was reunited with his wife Michal (2 Samuel 3:14-16). Sadly, after David danced naked before the Lord, Michal despised him (2 Samuel 6:14–16).

Then it happened as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. 2 Samuel 6:16 (NASB)

The last statement made at the end of Michal’s life is that she had no children.

Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death. 2 Samuel 6:23 (NASB)

This may have been divine punishment for despising her husband, since David was the servant of the Lord.

Abigail of Carmel — David’s Second Wife

King David’s second wife was Abigail the Carmelitess (1 Samuel 25:39-42). But King David was not her first husband either. 1 Samuel 25:3, 37 tell us that she was actually another man’s wife before she was married to King David.

So, how did King David and Abigail meet? 1 Samuel 25:9-13 states that King David’s servants heard Nabal, Abigail’s husband, foolishly make negative comments about David. Consequently, David and four hundred men went to kill him. But one of King David’s young men told Abigail what David had planned to do to her husband (v. 14-17). In an attempt to save her husband, she hurried to meet David, urging him to halt his plans. Consequently, she was able to save her husband’s life (v. 18-35). Then Abigail returned home to a drunken husband who was holding a great feast. Consequently, she decided to wait until the morning to tell Nabal what King David had planned to do and shared how she had saved him (v. 36-37). When Nabal heard the news, it affected his heart. Ten days later God caused him to die (v. 37-38).

When King David heard that Nabal was dead, he sent a proposal to Abigail to become his wife and she agreed. Then she became David’s second wife.

When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal and has kept back His servant from evil. The LORD has also returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head.” Then David sent a proposal to Abigail, to take her as his wife. When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her, saying, “David has sent us to you to take you as his wife.” She arose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your maidservant is a maid to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” Then Abigail quickly arose, and rode on a donkey, with her five maidens who attended her; and she followed the messengers of David and became his wife. 1 Samuel 25:39-42 (NASB)

Ahinoam of Jezreel — David’s Third Wife

King David’s third wife was Ahinoam of Jezreel.  We first encounter Ahinoam in Scripture in 1 Samuel 25:43 immediately after David marries Abigail.

David had also taken Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both became his wives. 1 Samuel 25:43 (NASB)

The other wife that verse 43 refers to is Abigail. There are no other biblical passages that describe the marriage of King David and Ahinoam other than she became the mother of David’s first son (2 Samuel 3:2; 1 Chronicles 3:1).  Later in  1 Samuel 27:3 we read about both Abigal and Ahinoam in one verse.

And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, each with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s widow. 1 Samuel 27:3 (NASB)

The order of the names may imply that Ahinoam was a preferred wife over Abigail since every time the wives are mentioned in Scripture Ahinoam is listed first (1 Samuel 30:5; 2 Samuel 2:2; 1 Chronicles 3:1).  Since in ancient Israel widows had no financial support, it may be that King David married Abigail to provide for her financial support. But Ahinoam could have been the wife he preferred. At this point in time Michal belonged to another man.

At one point, Ahinoam and Abigail were captured by the Amalekites and had to be rescued (1Samuel 30:5, 18).

Wives of King David

Maacah, Haggith, Abital and Eglah — David’s Wives

David’s fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh wives are Maacah, Haggith, Abital and Eglah. They are listed twice in Scripture. The first time they are mentioned is in 2 Samuel 3:2-5 and 1 Chronicles 3:1-3 repeats the same information.

Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David at Hebron. 2 Samuel 3:2-5 (NASB)

It is important to notice that in this passage the numbers refer to the sons born to David. We must remember that David’s first wife, Michal, did not give birth to any children.

Bathsheba — David’s Eighth Wife

King David’s eighth wife is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, and the widow of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:3). 2 Samuel 11:1-2 tells us that one evening King David was walking on the roof of his house and saw Bathsheba bathing. We are told that she was extremely beautiful. As a result, David decided to engage in sexual activity with her and made her pregnant. The rest of the chapter describes an avalanche of sins that follow in an attempt to cover up David’s adultery. But he forgot that our God sees everything that is done in secret (Matthew 6:4, 6) .

After David arranged for Uriah to be killed while he was in the front line of the battle, the prophet Nathan confronted David about his adultery with Bathsheba and arranging for the murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 12:1-8). David repented and Psalm 51 records his repentance. Yet, the penalty for his sin was that “the sword will never depart from your house” and the child would die (2 Samuel 12:10-15). The child eventually died (2 Samuel 12:15-23). 2 Samuel 12:24 is the only verse that refers to Bathsheba as David’s wife. This reveals that sometime after Uriah died, David and Bathsheba were married.

Bathsheba became perhaps the prominent wife of King David (1 Kings 1:15-16, 28, 31). She was also the mother of King Solomon. He was, after his father David, the most significant king of all Israel. Bathsheba gave King David a total of thirteen children (1 Chronicles 3:5-8). This passage also reveals that Bathshua was alternate name for Bathsheba since Bathshua is the mother of King Solomon.

Conclusion:

1 Chronicles 3:1-4 states that King David’s first seven wives gave him six children, while they lived in Hebron. In the city of Jerusalem, David’s eighth wife, Bathsheba, gave him four sons after the death of her first son. Other wives gave birth to nine more sons. A total of nineteen sons are named here. Then 1 Chronicles 3:9 adds this,

All these were the sons of David, besides the sons of the concubines; and Tamar was their sister. 1 Chronicles 3:9 (NASB)

2 Samuel 5:13-16 and 1 Chronicles 14:3-5 reveal that King David took other wives and concubines.

Meanwhile David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to David. Now these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet. 2 Samuel 5:13-16 (NASB)

1 Chronicles 14:3-5 is almost identical to 2 Samuel 5:13-16.

Then David took more wives at Jerusalem, and David became the father of more sons and daughters. These are the names of the children born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Elpelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Beeliada and Eliphelet. 1 Chronicles 14:3-5 (NASB)

 

Suggested Links:

Does 2 Samuel 12:8 mean God approved of David’s polygamy?
What biblical evidence is there for God allowing polygamy?
What was a concubine in the Old Testament era? – Wife or mistress?
I am a polygamist, what should I do?
Does God approve of polygamy? What does the Bible say?
Is polygamy supported by 1 Corinthians 7:2?