And here I thought we were through with genealogy. Surprise! But it’s a short list. This is a list of children born to David in Jerusalem.
David already had SIX wives by the time the 7.5 years of his reign in Hebron concluded. He also had six children; one by each wife. I’m wondering if he only fathered on child per wife and then moved onto the next or if God only allowed each woman to have one child. Or is it possible that we are only given the names of the first child of each wife? Tamar isn’t mentioned in the list given but we know she exists because we have stories of her and her brother Absalom. Who knows how many went unlisted.
When David becomes king of Israel his appetite for wives didn’t end. He had more and More and MORE wives. And with those wives came children. David fathered at least thirteen more children in Jerusalem. In one place we are told that Bathsheba bore him four children. If the rest of his children followed the ‘one wife one child’ formula then there would have been nine more wives who bore children for him. This is excluding Michael. She didn’t have any children as a punishment for her behavior towards David when he brought the ark into Jerusalem.
Another group of people in David’s ‘family’ are the concubines and the children born to them through him. We have no way of numbering this group. We KNOW he had concubines because when he fled Jerusalem before Absalom the concubines were left in charge of the palace. We don’t know if they had children with them at that time or if their children went with David. NONE would have children by him after he returned because of Absalom’s defilement of them in David’s absence.
Why did David desire so many wives? Did he see something special in each of them that was absent in the others? Was it a sense of power that motivated him to take so many wives? A man was not supposed to have more wives than he could support. Even while on the run from Saul, David had multiple wives. Was he driven by his sexual needs/desires? With Bathsheba he apparently was. Was he wanting more wives because he wanted more children?
In all the stories about David, we don’t see him as the ‘doting father.’ Certainly not as the disciplinarian of the family. His children seemed to be left to their own devices and found their own solutions for their problems. MANY of those solutions created more problems than they solved.
I wonder how David’s family’s story might have been different if he had treated all his children the way he treated Solomon. David poured his heart into Solomon. This is apparent from the book of Proverbs. God gave Solomon the majority of the wisdom contained therein but Solomon makes mention of having learned at his father’s knee. David also shared his vision for the Tabernacle with Solomon in order that Solomon might build it for the Lord. I wonder if the verse in Proverbs about training a child up in the way he should go is a direct reflection on the differences between Solomon’s upbringing and the rest of David’s children. Solomon did stray when he was older. He was ruled by his libido even more than his father was, but that is a story for another day.
How do we value our families? Is it just a list of names and a count of heads? Or do we find something special in each and every one of them? Do we leave them to their own devices and let them make their own way in the world or do we foster the special traits we see within them? Do we let them learn the ‘hard lessons’ in life by getting knocked down or do we guide them through the hard places? Maybe we use a combination of all the above.
In my family we count numbers and try to blend two families into one in some fashion. But the most important thing we do is honor each and every member for their ‘uniqueness’, whatever it may be. Each of my children and grandchildren are precious and special. They have unique needs in how I relate to them. Some are very boisterous while others are withdrawn or shy. Two of my granddaughters are famous for ‘making faces’ when they were little (one still is little while the other is almost in high school). Two of my grandsons have some degree of Autism. One of my granddaughters is an only child, and it shows! Two of my grandchildren groupings are same sexes while the rest are one of each. Two of my grandchildren are home schooled. But they ALL know that when Nannie is around they are the center of her world. I am the ‘favorite toy’ or partner in play for each of them. Not as much when they get older, but certainly when they are little. I am a true confidant and am available any time they need to talk for the older kids. I’m a tutor in any subject they need. And once a year they get to be the center of attention together at Nannie and Papa’s house. THIS is their weekend!
Thank You Father for my family! For those above me in this crazy tree and those below me. I wouldn’t be who I am without my ‘roots’ and my ‘branches.’ Thank You for instilling in me the desire to play with my children and grandchildren. Thank You for birthing in me the desire to forge DEEP and LASTING traditions with my children. I pray they will remember these times together as a family and hold onto one another when I’m not there to hold them any longer. I pray that the atmosphere of love seeps into their very pores and speaks of You. Some of them are beyond my reach spiritually but the seeds of love I plant YOU can grow fruit with. Make our time together speak of Your love. I place EACH of them in Your hands and wait expectantly to see the work You WILL do in them.