Q. 2 Samuel 12:11 says, "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun" (2 Sam.12:11-12). Does this mean that David lost all his wives after he committed adultery with Bathsheba? Isn't that unfair on the wives who were innocent? Does this mean that a polygamist who commits adultery can't marry any more wives?
These are hard questions indeed (1 Kings 10:1). The penalty for both adultery and murder was death, so David should have been executed on two counts. In what was an unprecedented act under the Law of Moses, reflecting the mercy of the New Covenant which was to come, we read:
There are two important things to notice here:
"So David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against Yahweh.' And Nathan said to David, 'Yahweh also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of Yahweh to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die'" (2 Samuel 12:13-14, NKJV).
Contrary to the many anarchistic voices within Christendom who by their unbalanced theology shout 'mercy' but rarely 'justice', Mercy and Justice are, in the divine sceme, inseparable. Yes, we, like David, can receive the forgiveness of sins through proper repentance (David did not try to justify himself when Nathan exposed him but repented immediately), making us right with Yahweh BUT there are certain legalities which must be observed. Anyone involved in deliverance ministry knows that no amount of forgiveness or mercy will dislodge a demon - if a demon is present in a soul, it is because it has legal grounds to be according to Yahweh's Cosmic Law; and until that ground is removed, it will remain. Whereas it is perfectly true that believers can, upon genuine repentance (which includes, in the case of adultery or murder, not repeating it), receive immediate forgiveness - and indeed, Yahweh would wish to immediately cancel the effects of all sin upon genuine confession and renouncement of sin - BUT, because of this Cosmic Torah, anyone can bring a charge and demand the penalty of the Law.
- 1. There is forgiveness for both murder and adultery but with a caveat which our Lord/Master Yah'shua (Jesus) was later to insert: "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (John 8:11-12, NKJV). The death penalty was waived but only if the sin - which was heinous - was not repeated;
- 2. The life of the child of the adulterous relationship was required as a visible sign of Yahweh's abhorrence of David's crimes because of Yahweh's enemies, that they might not be given occasion to challenge the justice of Elohim (God).
There are three consequences to David's sin which cause us to pause and reflect:
Now these things may rest uncomfortably with many people but understanding their basis is essential to understanding the Elohim (God) we love and serve - both His mercy and His justice. They will also tell us a bit about the relationship between members of a family when the HEAD seriously transgresses.
- 1. Because he was repentant, He was forgiven by Yahweh and the death penalty waived; BUT
- 2. To prevent blasphemy against Yahweh, the life of the bastard child was required; and
- 3. What David did in secret against Bathsheba would be done to his own wives in public.
On the basis of Yahweh's actions in the Word - and especially here - we are made shockingly and painfully aware that the position of responsibility of the head of a family - the husband-father - is SO GREAT that the consequences of transgression are dire for the other family members. It follows also that unless the wives in a polygamous marriage realise what their true relationship to their husband is in Yahweh that they may find themselves in a situation in which they are being punished for their husband's sins.
First and foremost, let's make it clear that the actions of a husband do not affect a wife's personal salvation. Her salvation is entirely independent of his. If he loses his salvation, her relationship to him is not such that hers is in danger if, for example, she remains with him. Whatever she therefore may suffer as a result of her husband's sins concern this physical dimension only. The first son of Solomon and Bathsheba, though he lost his life in this sphere, possesses it in the spiritual and (we presume, because of the justice of Yahweh, and according to my belief system) will again enjoy a full life in the millennial world to come.
Second, the nature of the marriage relationship in this sphere at any rate, is affected by the sinful actions of an ungodly husband. Thus most (if not all) David's wives suffered horribly because of his adultery and murder - they were sexually violated in public, defiled and humiliated. And you may well then ask yourself this question: Is this just? Why did Yahweh permit such a thing? Why not take it out on David?
Well, that was the subject of my two essays on wife-ownership. And however offensive this may seem, there is no other conclusion but to recognise that David's wives were - in Yahweh's eyes - regarded as David - his flesh, his household, his property ... however you care to word it. Therefore, according to the perfect justice of Yahweh, what David did to Uriah's wife was done to his, and according to the laws of justice stated in Torah. Yes, his wives had to suffer because of his evil. And just as Uriah would have been heartbroken had he learned of David's treachery towards his wife while he was loyally serving his King on the battle field, so David was made to feel the pain of knowing that his wives were being publically humilated and violated.
We are, from these observations, forced to one conclusion: in the eyes of Elohim (God), husband and wife/wives are regarded as ONE UNIT. And when a woman joins herself to a man she must clearly understand this. This means that she had better be absolutely sure that she picks the right man! She had better be sure that as the husband agrees to be her shield when she is comes under attack by invisible and visible forces alike, that she is willing to suffer if her husband breaks the commandments and is punished by Yahweh for doing so.
If we compare this with the model of Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride the Church (Messianic Community) we are at once struck by some interesting things. Firstly, Christ is perfect, never sinned, and can never sin, so we as His Bride can never suffer because of any transgression He may commit. We have no grounds for concern. BUT - and this is important - we are commanded, as His Bride - to be willing to suffer for each other in the same way that He suffered for us. We are to bear other's burdens. Indeed, we are - if called upon to do so - to suffer for the sake of Christ, the Gospel, and the Truth. The nature of the marriage relationship - allegorical or literal - is such that it contains a voluntary suffering clause: indeed we are promised that if we follow Christ and obey His commandments, being faithful to Him in all things, that persecution is both guaranteed and glorious. Not that we should lust after being martyrs, but should be willing to accept what comes our way.
Now to your question as to whether David lost his wives or not. In one sense, yes he did - for we learn that after they had been disgraced, he never slept with them again. There was no atonement at that time to cleanse that stigma away. I am sure he must have lost many things, including their confidence. They must also have wondered at his partiality, and many other things. The sons of other wives caused him no amount of pain and suffering. The sins of the fathers are truly passed down to the children.
David was a marked man for the rest of his mortal life. Yes, he was forgiven and gained his life but he did not gain peace in his household. There was both mercy and judgment, as there always must be. Don't we often wonder why, when we are forgiven of our sins through the blood of Christ, why it is we are nonetheless plagued by problems in this life? Christ bought us forgiveness in the eternities and in the spiritual sphere but sometimes, it seems, it does not always extend fully to this world. It is written: "Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same" (Job 4:8, NKJV), "They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7, NKJV), "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:6, NKJV), "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Galatians 6:8-9, NKJV), and so forth. Notice that there is a causitive law in operation here which the atonement does not necessarily abolish. David may have saved his soul for the next life but the present one was nevertheless a source of much pain and sorrow because of his foolhardiness.
The Bible seems to indicate that his wives still remained his even after he had regained his throne from his son's insurrection. But something was undoubtedly irretrievably lost. He ends his reign by marrying a young virgin - Abishag - and using her as a hot water-bottle to keep warm in his dying years. Couldn't his other wives have done the job? The question begs an answer.
There are some who interpret the passage you quote as meaning that his wives ceased being his wives in Yahweh's eyes after his transgression with Bathsheba. Is this not the clear meaning? Other translations render this as:
The "someone from your own family" and "another man" were, it is argued, his son Absalom. And yet the Torah forbade a son to marry his father's wife, alive or dead! Would Yahweh break His own law and give even further cause for Elohim's (God's) enemies to blaspheme His Name? We can only conclude that the higher "eye for and eye, tooth for a tooth" law under the Old Covenant took precedence and that indeed Yahweh "gave" David's wives to his rebellious son - who also met his fate for his murderous and adulterous deeds. Thus we must, I think, view the "giving" of the wives in a different sense to true marriage. Whatever "giving" was done can only have been in the sense of "giving" Israel over to her enemies when she was in transgression. And indeed the word for "giving" here may have this meaning, and especially in this context as "handing over".
"I swear to you that I will cause someone from your own family to bring trouble on you. I will take your wives from you and give them to another man; and he will have intercourse with them in broad daylight" (2 Samuel 12:11, TEV).
When David violated Bathsheba the covering he gave his wives was destroyed - they were open to whatever demonic attack Satan might choose to make as was his legal right. The responsibility for the exposure and humiliation of David's wives was David's alone - he should have covered them, but instead he effectively handed them over to Satan!
You husbands have got to understand that when Yahweh gives you wives you have a high and frightening responsibility that you cannot abrogate! Now I know, from my own personal experience in the ministry, that this is true. I knew a woman who was thrown out by her husband who unilaterally (and, in Yahweh's eyes, illegally) dissolved the marriage, and when he did this, she immediately sensed her covering was gone and came under demonic attack. This is a fact. But in so doing he cut his own spiritual throat - and although he may have 'freed' her, it was at the cost of his own salvation if he does not repent (see The Hagar Heresy). He absolved himself of his Boazic redeemer vows and in the process removed his own Messianic covering! He is now, in the eyes of Yahweh, a heathen and any Christian/Messianic woman who subsequently marries him will, no matter what his profession of faith, be yoking herself unequally to a pagan and be in violation of the commandments. And I know of another man who abandoned all his wives and children - just deserted them - who is under no less a condemnation.
Had David not repented, we can only guess at the consequences. But I am pretty sure he would have lost everything - including his life.
Please, please, brethren, consider these things before you enter this lifestyle. And sisters, run a mile from any man who would break his marriage vows and become, in Yahweh's eyes, a heathen. Is not the warning of David enough? Look what happened subsequently in his life - even to marrying a young virgin to warm up his decaying body.
The picture I present here may not be 100% accurate but I think it is accurate enough.
Now to your last question - and what a sobering question it is. And I am going to answer it by posing a parallel question. Let us say you are a believer throwing your life and care on the Redeemer, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), as a part of His uniplural bride, and let us say for the sake of argument only that He threw you out in violation of His covenants with you to be your covering and sin-bearer: would He still be a Redeemer for others coming to him for salvation? Could he be trusted? Would you trust - feel safe with - a Messiah who might suddenly throw you out? What would make you feel safe?
In this light I would say that such a man can never marry again unless he makes things right with the woman he deserted. How else could he ever be a trustworthy redeemer figure for his wives, or any other potential wives?
Now had the woman unilaterally broken the marriage vows, then it would be different, for then he would be guiltless and innocent of the charge of abandonment.
Therefore my answer to someone who asked me whether an adulterer or vow-breaker was eligible to marry more wives, my unhestitating answer would be NO, for he would make any new wives party to his crimes. In short, he would, by 'marrying' her, make her an adultress, and join his calamitous life to her own.