November 23, 2007

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Biblical women: David’s wife, Michal

John F. Fink(Seventeenth in a series of columns)

Michal, the daughter of King Saul, was smitten with David. When Saul learned of it, he was glad because he thought he could use Michal to kill David, whom he saw as a rival

(1 Sm 18:20-27).

Therefore, he offered Michal to David as his wife. The bridal price was the foreskins of 100 Philistines. Saul hoped that, while David was trying to get them, the Philistines would kill him. But David brought back 200 foreskins, counted them out before the king, and claimed Michal in marriage.

That made Saul even more determined to kill David. He sent guards to David’s house with orders to kill him in the morning. Michal, knowing what her father had in mind, saved her husband by lowering David down through a window. Then she put an idol, with a net of goat’s hair on its head, in the bed. When the soldiers burst in the next morning, she told them that David was sick (1 Sm 19:11-17).

The messengers reported back to Saul, who ordered them to bring David back, bed and all, so he could kill him. That’s when they found that Michal had deceived them. Naturally, Saul was furious with Michal, who said that David had threatened to kill her if she hadn’t helped him escape.

David was on the run from Saul for a long time. Saul gave Michal in marriage to a man named Paltiel. After Saul’s death, David lived in Hebron, where he had other wives: Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Higgith, Abital and Eglah. They all bore him children (1 Sm 25:39-43; 2 Sm 3:2-5).

Eventually, David decided that he also wanted Michal back so he sent Abner to get her for him. David sent messengers to Ishbaal, Saul’s son, reminding him that David had paid 200 foreskins for Michal. Therefore, Ishbaal took her away from Paltiel and sent her with Abner back to David. Paltiel followed her, weeping, until Abner sent him back (2 Sm 3:13-16).

After David conquered Jerusalem, he took more wives and concubines. Michal, although his first wife, was basically just part of the harem (2 Sm 5:13).

Then came the day when David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. It was a joyous occasion and David, clad only in a loincloth, danced with abandon in front of the Ark. Michal, though, looking through a window, saw David’s performance and felt contempt for him (2 Sm 6:14-16).

As soon as David entered his home, Michal confronted him: “How the king of Israel has honored himself today,” she said, “exposing himself to the view of the slave girls of his followers, as a commoner might do!” (2 Sm 6:20).

David rejected her scorn. “I was dancing before the Lord,” he told her. “As the Lord lives, who preferred me to your father and his whole family … , not only will I make merry before the Lord, but I will demean myself even more. I will be lowly in your esteem, but in the esteem of the slave girls you spoke of I will be honored” (2 Sm 6:21-22).

From then on, David had nothing to do with Michal.†

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