As I read the story of David, I find myself wishing he had been a person of more enduring integrity. He had moments of it, to be sure. He confronted Goliath when no one else would. He trusted God and chose not to assassinate King Saul. But there are other stories, other moments, when David doesn’t look like the king we’re looking for.
One of the more subtle details that points this direction is at the end of 1 Samuel 25. The author includes a subtle detail that portends much worse things to come. He writes in verses 39–42:
Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife. … And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife. (ESV)
At first, that might sound great. Abigail is an amazing woman, after all; a good catch, for sure. And her husband has died, so she is a widow in need of care. But a couple of other details sour this moment: One, David already has a wife (Michal); two, the very next verse reads, “David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them [Abigail and Ahinoam] became his wives.”
In a matter of five verses, David has gone from having one wife to having three—and more would follow.
Sadly, this kind of polygamy was incredibly common in David’s day, especially among royalty. A king would take as many wives as he wanted. And who could stop him? He was the king. But God’s kings weren’t supposed to operate like that. They weren’t supposed to exploit their position and power as king to take lots of wives (Deuteronomy). David knew this—and he ignored God’s warning.
Salvation would never come from man, no matter how strong or righteous that man might appear. Salvation would have to come from God himself, which is why Jesus came to Earth.
This was one of the first indications that David may not have been the promised king the people were looking for. Until this point, he was the humble shepherd boy who obeyed God and lived with undaunted courage. He had carried himself with grace and trusted in God in impossible circumstances. He was everything they thought a king would be.
But through his lapse in faith and his exploitation of power, it became clear that he wasn’t the king that God had promised after all. It proved once again that salvation would never come from man, no matter how strong or righteous that man might appear. Salvation would have to come from God himself, which is why Jesus came to Earth.
Not that Jesus is absent from 1 Samuel 25, though. In fact, there is a sort of Jesus type here. But it’s not David. It’s Abigail—a wise, discerning sage who rides in on a donkey, humbles herself, and then takes all the blame for what’s happened, despite her innocence. Abigail foreshadows Jesus more than David does. She offers a meal of peace, a meal of lamb, and through her bravery and sacrifices, she purchases salvation for many.
The true King, the King the people were searching for, wasn’t David. This King would be the Son of David; but not just the Son of David, he would also be the Son of God.
And, unlike David, he would never falter or need to be reminded to trust God. He would never use his power to coerce other people. He would be the hope—not just of Israel—but of all the nations. And whether you know it or not, he’s the King you’re searching for too.