David and Company

Having looked at the life and times of David through the lens of eight key figures that David had significant dealings with while he was alive, we are still left with a number, worth mentioning, who played a significant part in David’s life and times.

Before turning to the most important interaction / relationship of all (David and God) we will consider some of these persons that have not been covered so far and do so under three separate headings:

  1. Prophets and Priests
  2. David’s friends and enemies
  3. David’s Wives

Prophets and Priests

When we consider the history of Israel in the Old Testament, we find at different times prophets, priests and kings dominated. When we get to the New, we find someone who incorporated all three offices and Him (Jesus, sometimes referred to as Son of David) most of Israel rejected. While David was known as a king who occasionally prophesised (e.g. through his Psalms) and who exercised priestly functions (e.g. leading worship), he also encouraged both prophets and priests to function as they ought during his reign.

There were three named prophets who played important parts during David’s life: Samuel, David and Gad. In one verse, all three are named: “Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer” 1 Chronicles 29:29. We began our series looking at Samuel, who besides being a judge in Israel was also a prophet. He saw what God saw when it came to anointing David to be king – a man after God’s heart. Nathan was to play an important part (discussed) in exposing David’s sin in the matter of his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. He also counselled David not to build the Temple and played an important part overturning the coup meant to prevent Solomon taking the Throne. Then there was Gad, who was with David from the time he was on the run from Saul and gave him words from the Lord. He also did so when David foolishly numbered his fighting men, which was in disobedience to God, and was punished. Then there is the surprisingly significant text, because it linked prophesy with music and Temple worship: “Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was” 1 Chronicles 25:1.

When it comes to priests, the two that stand out in David’s time were Abiathar and Zadok. When David was on the run, he approached Abiathar’s father, Ahimelech, who was then priest, for help and got it. Upon finding out, that incurred the wrath of Saul, who was pursuing David, with Ahimelech and his family being killed, all except Abiathar, who then joined with David. Abiathar served as priest right up to his death but because he sided with Adonijah in his attempt to seize the Throne instead of the rightful incumbent, Solomon, near the time of David’s death, he was removed from office. Zadok, who along with Nathan supported Solomon, became High Priest instead. Zadok appeared on the scene around the time of Absalom’s rebellion and undertook some of the priestly functions. The worship of God in the Tabernacle, with the centre piece being the Ark of the Covenant, was an important factor during David’s reign. Priests were assisted by the Levites and, while not permitted to build the Temple, David did much to plan and prepare for the time when the Temple was built, under Solomon.  

David’s friends and enemies

David was surrounded by friends and enemies and friends who turned out to be enemies, throughout his life, which we can see by checking out the biblical accounts, particularly in the Books of Samuel, and alluded and referred to in several of his Psalms. His greatest friend was Jonathan and his greatest enemy was Saul, Jonathan’s father, which we have already looked into. Let us now consider six examples, which we may care to ponder concerning our own lives and how we might respond to the lessons we learn:

  1. Ittai was a foreigner and a fighter who led part of David’s army. In his hour of need, when having to flee from Absolam, David was grateful for Ittai’s support, and this despite telling Ittai not to get involved since he had no stake in the outcome.
  2. Hushai alone was called the “king’s friend” and was loyal to David throughout his life. He put his life on the line by going over to Absalom in his rebellion, pretending to switch allegiance, and in giving faulty counsel saved the day for David.
  3. Shimei was among those, at the time when David was at his most vulnerable, who cursed David when he was fleeing from Absalom.
  4. Doeg, an Edomite, was Saul’s chiefest herdsman and it was he who carried out the slaughter of Ahimelech and his family.
  5. Sheba after David won victory over Absalom it was he that led further rebellion against David before being defeated.
  6. Ahithophel was David’s trusted counsellor who switched sides to Absalom during the civil war and used his knowledge to advise Absalom how to proceed. As with Shimei and Sheba, Ahithophel got his comeuppance and all of them died violent deaths.

David’s Wives

From what we can make out, David had at least eight wives: Michal, Abigail, Ahinoam, Maakah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah and Bathsheba and ten concubines. It was never God’s intention for a man to have more than one wife and kings were warned about the consequences of doing so, but that did not deter David, yet God did not rebuke David for acting as he did. Besides Bathsheba, who we discussed earlier, the wives we know most about are Michal and Abigail.

Michal was Saul’s daughter, who was given to David in marriage, taken from him and then reclaimed by David as his wife. Michal loved David and was loyal to him when Saul was seeking to do him harm. We read when after David came on to the Throne: “And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart … Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death” 2 Samuel 6:16,23. We first read of Abigail while David was foraging with his outlaw band and asked help from Nabal, pointing out that he had been protecting him: “Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb” 1 Samuel 25:3. We read how Nabal refused to give David help and treated David’s men roughly, incurring David’s anger, leading to his resolve to seek revenge. But for Abigail’s wise and timely intervention, there could have been bloody retribution. Soon after this episode, Nabal died and David then married his widow. Regarding David’s concubines, David left them in the city at his home when he was fleeing, and they were all raped by Absolam.

Then at the end of his life we read: “Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat. So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not” 1 Kings 1:1-4. While Abishag is not referred to as wife or concubine, it is evident she was more than just a nurse maid and tradition has it she was “underaged”. A role model for us to follow, David may have been, but not in the realm of sexual ethics.   

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