“And sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam of Jezreel; and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; 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, of Eglah, David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This is one of those detail notes that is easy to ignore but which appears fairly often in the history books of the Old Testament. It’s a list of names, half of which you can’t pronounce unless you really stop and think carefully through all the letters. Generally speaking, once we’ve gotten past reading Hop on Pop, we don’t like having to sound out unfamiliar words, so we skip them and don’t think about it any further. And while, to be honest, we can do this with many of the genealogy lists we find, this one is worth giving a bit more of our attention.
While the names here aren’t terribly important, what those names reveal is. Read through this carefully. These are the names of the sons (daughters almost never got counted or included) born to David while he was king in Hebron. What is a bit unusual here, though, is that each son is listed as being the son of someone not named David. Who are these other folks? The moms. And just in case counting isn’t your thing, there are six sons here by six different women. Adding further intrigue, only four of the women are listed as his wives. That means two weren’t. They were probably concubines.
So what does all of this mean? It means that when it came to his personal relationships, David acted just like any other king of that day. He took what he wanted and didn’t look back.
Now, this isn’t presented with any commentary positive or negative, so the temptation is to think there’s nothing wrong with the situation. But, a read through the rest of the story of David reveals this is not the case. David’s habits eventually got him in a serious bind and his family fell apart over it. One son raped a daughter (his half-sister) and was subsequently murdered by another son. That son later staged a coup against his father and was killed in the process. Yet another son made a move on the throne when David had died even though his father had appointed another son to fill his place and that son had his brother killed. In other words: one big mess.
It was a mess whose foundation David was building while he was serving as king in Hebron. He ignored the command of Moses and Samuel that kings should not multiply wives (as was the custom) and did what he wanted. Here’s the point: When we don’t do the things God tells us to do, we are not just sinning. We are laying a foundation. Eventually that foundation is something we will have to stand on. If we build a weak and crumbling foundation, it will eventually collapse under us and us with it. That’s not a situation we want to face.
Live God’s way. It’s not always the easiest thing to manage now, but it will pay off in the future in ways that will make all the effort worth it.