KING DAVIDíS WIVES
ďYou will appoint a king upon yourselves, whom the Lord your God will choose; from among your brethren you will appoint a king ... but he should not have too many wives.Ē (Deuteronomy 17:15 and 17)
1. Michal, aged 18; for David, a minstrel at the court of King Saul, her father
Will David ever love me? Here at court,
He plays his harp and lyre, plucking their strings
In ecstasy and passion as he sings
Of prophets, priests and holy men who taught
That we must build our God a sacred fort,
A lofty bastion built of angel-wings
Protecting all Godís people and their kings,
A shrine of pious deeds and pious thought.
Why canít he sing of me? Godís prophets preach
A husbandís tender love reflects Godís care
For His beloved, Israel, and her life;
Why canít the austere psalms of David teach
It is no shame, no sin, no vice to hear
A shepherd takes a princess as his wife.
2. Michal, aged 38; for David, her husband
Does David love me? At my fatherís court,
We all loved him: my father used to bring
Goliathís sword for him to wield; each spring
My brother shielded him in wars they fought;
My sisters listened to the tales he taught
And clapped their hands when he agreed to sing;
And I ó I gave myself, and everything
A woman gives, except the son I sought.
Without his love, my life is but a beach
Without its waves, without its sand, as bare
As boulders scraped and carved by an oceanís knife;
Without his love, my life's a tasteless peach,
A grape without its juice, a shapeless pear;
Without his love, what meaning has my life?
3. Michal, aged 58; for David, the king of Israel
Did David ever love me? Here at court,
I watch each infant prince and princess cling
And suck their motherís breasts as mothers sing
About the wars our royal husband fought.
The older children, boys and girls, are taught
Our peopleís laws and customs by the king,
Who kisses each, then gives each one a ring
And coats of many colors that he brought.
I cling to my window-sill, out of reach,
And hide amidst the shadows from the glare
Of Davidís childrenís light, their sun, their life;
Reciting psalms, I turn to God, beseech
His help and spend my days in silent prayer;
How bleak the nights of Davidís childless wife.
4. Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; for David, her bridegroom
Am I asleep? My heartís awake; I hear
Him knocking on my door, ďIíve come, my love,
Unlatch the lock and open the door, my dove.Ē
I hear his voice; or do I dream? I dare
Not open, I have undressed, and lie here bare;
Iíve washed my hands and feet, and wear no glove,
No shoe; yet look ó I see his hand above
The lock, and his shadow hiding in the air.
Leaping from hills of myrrh and frankincense,
My groom has come to drink his wine of choice
And rest in beds of spices, among the throngs
Of herbs and lilies of the valley, whose scents
Awaken me tonight. I hear his voice
Chanting my name, as he sings a song of songs.
5. Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; for David, her second husband
The Lord is my true Shepherd, I shall not want.
When I was very young and very pretty
And very poor, they took me from the city
And made me marry a herdsman, old and gaunt,
A drunken lecher who always used to flaunt
How rich he was. Heíd kick the ewes and hit me;
Heíd slap my face and never show us pity;
He only knew to beat, insult and taunt.
But then he died; and in his stead, God sent
Me David. Now I am a treasured sheep,
And only in green pastures do I graze.
Godís rod and Davidís staff make me content.
At night, I fear no evil when I sleep,
And dwell in the house of God the length of days.
6. Maíacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; for David, general, captor, king
He found me in the camps, the only one
Among the captive girls who didnít cry.
All the women begged for bread. Not I.
I begged my god, the good Tammuz, the sun,
To send me death. Why should I breathe, when none
Of my family lived? I only wished to die;
Expecting rape, I prayed to sanctify
My life by death before they had their fun.
But he, the red-headed soldier, heard my prayers.
There was no rape. He gently helped me stand
And walk. For thirty days he let me mourn
My parents, sisters, brothers; he wiped my tears,
And then as king, he issued his command
For suns to shine on me again, re-born.
7. Eglah; for David, her husband whom she loves
Okay, I must admit Iím somewhat slow,
I donít know how to read and write, I mean,
Itís really hard ó even if youíre a queen ó
To get the hang of it, the letters flow
Like drops of rain all over the page, they go
Both up and down, across, and in between;
Then funny empty spaces intervene,
Like roots that drink the rain, to make plants grow.
So like I said, Iím really not that smart,
And Davidís other wives think Iím a calf.
But I donít care that much. Let others boast
They read the Torah scrolls; I know the art
Of telling jokes and making David laugh.
So maybe I do Godís work more than most.
8. Haggit; for David, her savior, teacher, husband
Our family latrine saved my life, when a band
Of Philistines destroyed our farm; the trench
Was full of urine, dung and filth, whose stench
Allowed me to hide inside its slime and sand.
And there I heard their officer command
His men to stab my fatherís heart; to wrench
My brotherís arms until he died; to quench
Their thirst with blood from Motherís severed hand.
And there I heard the silence of God. Until
My savior, David, came and pulled me out.
He taught me not to blame our God, whose grace
Will yet emerge and shine some day, whose still
Small voice will yet resound, despite the shout
Of evil men whose hands now hide Godís face.
9. Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite; when King David sent messengers to
summon her to his palace
The king commands; how can I disobey?
A lion roars, and no one can control
A hungry lionís passions, or its soul.
The lion crouches, waiting for its prey.
Ever since my husband went away,
Iíve dreamt a greedy lion stalked and stole
A pauperís lamb; and no one could console
The man whose lamb the lion schemed to slay.
Why canít Uriah fly to me? How tame
My husband is, a gentle bird whose wings
Embrace my head and arms before we sleep.
He loves to sing to me and chant my name,
Then feather me with earrings, bracelets, rings.
Yes, I recall Uriahís smile, and weep.
10. Bath-sheba, the widow of Uriah the Hittite; for King David, her second husband
and the father of her son, Solomon
The king devotes an hour every day
To teach our son to read the Torah scroll,
Recite his psalms, and gain the self-control
A future king must have; and then, they pray.
He smiles when watching Solomon at play,
At climbing trees or riding his new foal.
I know the king would sacrifice his soul
To save our son, this child he wonít betray.
But what am I to him? A badge of shame,
A mark of Cain, a leperís bell that rings
As soon as I awake until I sleep.
He turns his head and never says my name
Although to all his other wives he sings.
Yes, I recall Uriahís smile, and weep.
11. Avital; for her lord the king
Before the break of dawn each day, my lord,
The king, arises from his bed to pray
And praise the King of kings, the Lord. Each day
He prays anew. Sometimes he says no word
But hums a tune, for speech can be a sword
That stabs the prophetís eyes, which strive to stay
And seize the Light before it slips away.
Yet music, too, can sometimes cause discord
And block the prophetís ear, which yearns to hear
The Chariotís Wheels turn. Those days, the king
Negates his eyes, his ears, his mouth, in fear
And awe of God. In total silence, as near
To God as he dare come, he doesnít sing
Or speak, but with his feet, he dances prayer.
12. Avishag, the Shunammite; for His Royal Majesty, King David
During the rainy, dark and chilly nights
Of winter, His Royal Majesty, the king,
Warms his hands in mine, listens to me sing,
And nods his head before he slowly bites
The meat I feed him with a spoon. He writes
Another psalm, then orders me to bring
His motherís candlesticks and wedding ring
For me to see, and him to hold. He fights
His tears when he begins to talk, quietly,
About his mother. ďFriday nights sheíd kiss
My brow before she prayed; she loved me best,
And after lighting candles, sang with me.
Of everyone Iíve loved, itís her I miss.Ē
Let the old king cry. Let an old man rest.