Did David marry Saul's wives after he died? (2 Samuel 12:7-8) Does God condemn polygamy?
I have a question on Polygamy. II Samuel 12:7-8 says that God gave Saul’s
kingdom and his house to David. He also gave Saul’s wives in his arms.
Does it mean that everything of Saul’s becomes David’s own including the
wives? If so, then God does encourage polygamy or not being commited to
one wife. Also, as far as I know, no where in the Old Testament was there
any mention of condemning polygamy except for telling not to marry women
from foreign land. Please explain this.
I am not an expert on Hebrew, so cannot give a definitive interpretation
of the passage in question. The Hebrew word used for “arms” is heq which
means “lap, bosom, by extention, the inner person, heart,…” (quoting
from the Zondervan Exhaustive Concordance). I believe that the Hebrew
supports at least the possible interpretation you mention. Whether or not
this means that David married these women is not proven by this passage,
but it seems possible. If he had, we probably would know this from other
passages in 2nd Samuel. What we do know is that David had more than one
wife. He had several wives, including Bathseeba, Abishag, Haggith and
Michal. Michal was Saul’s daughter, but as far as I know, there is no
evidence that David ever married any of Saul’s wives. Solomon had a few
hundred wives. These wives, especially those who were not Hebrews, were
what caused Solomon to stumble. It is apparent that God allowed David to
marry more than one woman, but there is no evidence that God wanted him to
have more than one wife. The results of the disastrous marriages of both
David and Solomon are a clear teaching from God on this practice.
I do not believe that God has ever encouraged polygamy. For the Jews, he
did allow polygamy but he did not encourage it. You will not see a law in
the Levitical code outlawing polygamy. I would compare this to God’s
treatment of divorce in the Law of Moses. We can be confident that all
along it was God’s desire for a man and a woman to leave their parents and
for the two to become one flesh (paraphrasing Genesis 2:24). This passage
implies one man, one woman for life. In Matthew 19:3-9 Jesus makes it
clear that God only allowed Jewish men to divorce their wives “because
their hearts were hard.” I believe that God also allowed Jewish men to
marry more than one wife because their hearts were hard. Along these
lines, it is worth noting that Jesus’ view of marriage clearly argues
against polygamy, but the New Testament does not include a clear statement
outlawing a man taking more than one wife. All Christian groups,
including the early church have taught that a man can only take one wife
(with the exception of the Mormons, who are not even remotely Christian,
in my opinion). This is because it is so obviously implied by Jesus’
teaching on marriage. I know of a person who became a Christian in Africa
who had three wives. The leaders of the church did not demand he give up
all but one wife, although they would not condone a Christian taking on a
second wife after becoming a disciple of Jesus.
I hope this is helpful.