Why did David and Solomon have many wives?
This is a good question to ask based on God’s ideal of one man and one woman marrying (Genesis 2:24). David and Solomon had different reasons for marrying more than one wife. Let’s remember that kings were different than the common people at this time in the Bible.
Both David and Solomon married mostly for political relationships and alliances. In many of the places that David became king of a smaller region or area, he often took a wife there to solidify his claim to leadership (1 Samuel 25:43-44; 2 Samuel 3:3-5; 12:24; 1 Chronicles 3: 9).
After defeating Goliath in battle, one of the “prizes” of defeating him was to take Saul’s daughter, Michal, as his wife (1 Samuel 17:25; 1 Samuel 18:20-28). This also put him in the king’s line and made him a relative. He took Abigail as his wife after God killed her husband Nabal for his foolishness (1 Samuel 25:39-42).
When kings made treaties with others, it usually included marrying someone in their line, often their daughters. This solidified the relationship between them because the new wife acted as a liaison and made sure that the King would not go against the treaty.
The only wife David took that was not part of a political alliance was Bathsheba, the wife of his sin. It cost him one of his friends and men of valor, Uriah. In three strategic moves, David committed coveting, adultery, murder, and stealing.
He saw Bathsheba and coveted her. Then he committed adultery with her because he was the king and he could. And then he murdered Uriah by sending him to the front lines of the battle. Finally, he stole Bathsheba from Uriah. Uriah was a more faithful and noble man than him in this moment.
Solomon built alliances politically with other kings the same way his father did. But he had many more wives and concubines (1 Kings 11:2-4). When the Bible mentions these things, it is actually pointing out what Samuel originally prophesied about the Israelites wanting a king like the other nations (1 Samuel 8:10-18). Their sin was violating God’s original rules.
Solomon loved having many wives, almost like collecting foreign cars. Instead of just being political alliances, he enjoyed having many wives. This was one of the great sins of the kings of Israel. And they kings would get worse after the reign of Solomon.