I have had several disagreements about whether the Bible clearly denounces polygamy. Today, I will keep my response to such arguments by simply focusing on David and the fact that God loved him so much in spite of his polygamous ways. Long before David was born, God spelled out expectations for a king in Deuteronomy 17:14-17. These included “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray” (Deuteronomy 17:17). Though our passage does not clearly condemn David for taking Abigail as his wife as well as Ahinoam, we have already read much of Israel’s history in which neither God nor the writer condemns each evil practice when it occurs. God does not lay out his disappointment in David because God has already spoken. Our reading even makes a point to note the strange events where Saul gives away his already married daughter to another man (1 Samuel 25:44).
David is beloved by God and different than Saul, but they both relate to women, sex, and marriage in ways that reflect the practices of foreign kings rather than God’s best. The fact that God doesn’t condemn or punish David immediately doesn’t mean God approves. David will soon enough face significant consequences for attempting to enjoy being a lover and husband to many women. As we read the Bible, let’s be careful to pay attention to what the writers and God are trying to communicate rather than by reading too much into silence. I would argue that the original Jewish readers would already see problems with David’s actions in 1 Samuel 25:41-45 which prepare us for problems he will face as King. Stay tuned to see how this unfolds.