This week we've been studying a princess -- the daughter of King Saul, who fell in love with David and married the man of her dreams.
After that things went south a little.
Her dad still wanted to kill her new husband, and tried throwing things at him (no dishes, just spears) and then sent for him to be brought from their house when Michal said David was sick. Then they discovered that he'd fled; the "person" on the bed was actually not a person at all, just household items made to look like the form of a sleeping person.
With David on the run, Saul decided to give Michal to another man in marriage. How awful for her, after she'd been out on a limb being loyal to David, and loving him enough to go against the wishes of her father the king. Spiteful Saul.
Saul is not the sweetest peach in the basket, eh?
I wanted to see if we could figure out how long she was married to Paltiel, the son of Laish. I consulted some commentaries, to see what the scholars said. David battled Goliath around 1017 BC, when he was around twenty-three years old. Probably his marriage to Michal was shortly after that great victory. Then David becomes king after Saul dies, about 1010 BC, which would make David about thirty years old. The scholars say that the next time they can "assign" a date is about 990 BC when King David went to war with the Arameans. (We can cross reference this with II Samuel 8:6.) So at that time, he'd be about fifty. The next time Michal is mentioned is before the war with the Arameans, so it's probable that twenty-some years have passed without any word of her life with Paltiel.
Then, suddenly, she is thrown into more emotional turmoil. Do you recall when we studied Saul's concubine, Rizpah, we mentioned that Ish-bosheth (Saul's son) charged Abner regarding a relationship with her (Rizpah)? Well, Abner gets mad and decides to support David in the struggle to calm the kingdom. Perhaps this incident jogs David's memory, for he demands that Abner bring Michal back!
Oh, my. After all those years . . . Her love for David had been so strong before. She probably didn't give up her dream of re-uniting with him for a while. It may have been years before she accepted this new husband and perhaps grew to have some affection for him. Or, perhaps, she has never grown accustomed to Paltiel, and merely tolerates him. Now, many years later, here is David, turning her world upside down, just as her father did before. She is a pawn in these "games."
David has triumphed over his enemies, and has established Jerusalem as the political capital of the nation -- now he has succeeded in bringing the ark of the covenant home, so that Jerusalem will be the country's religious hub as well.
Michal is watching at the window, as the crowd (including her husband the king) comes into town:
Here we see David, who was so overjoyed that the ark was being brought to Jerusalem, that he shed his kingly, ornate robes and danced in the plain linen garment that he wore beneath them, so he looked just like all of the other celebrants. Michal is mentioned in this passage as "Saul's daughter;" I find myself wondering if she had not allowed herself to be truly David's wife again. If her heart was so embittered by these two men who had disrupted her life again and again, that the bitterness was all she had. No peace, no joy, just bitterness and resentment at how her life had turned out.
She looks down from her window and watches him in contempt. Then, when David comes home to the palace, after making sacrifices and feeding the people, she jumps on him with both feet. She condemns his actions, showing that she has no heart knowledge of worship of the true God. I think we can be sure of this because many years earlier, she had a household idol handy to use when she needed to disguise David's empty bed. She didn't seem to have the same "heart" that David did, when it came to matters of worship and devotion to Yahweh.
The real tragedy in Michal's life is the fact that her bitterness became so intense that it ultimately separated her from God. Like Leah, in our earlier study, she was a victim. But Leah broke the cycle of pain and bitterness by looking past her surroundings to her Creator. Remember the names of her sons? They told a story . . . a story of hoping beyond all hope that her husband would care for her more with each son's birth . . . until the last was born, and she named him "Judah" meaning "praise" to God. If Michal had looked for God before, by this time in her life she had stopped looking. She could not see His grace. She had been tossed about in her life, and then she'd seen the death of her father and her brother. The bitterness welling up in her caused the rest of her life to be very lonely, and very unhappy. The final verse of our passage notes that she was childless the rest of her days.
Bitterness can separate us from God, too. It can make us unhappy and lonely. No wonder Paul said this:
(Hebrews 12:14-15)Her bitterness also caused Michal to look with contempt on someone who was focused on worship. She looked on with scorn, and then she doubled down on things with a verbal assault and insults.
How about us? What are our feelings about worship? Do we look at people who are exuberant and full of feeling as less than us? Or, does it go the other way -- do we look at those who remain quiet and reverent as somehow not as worshipful as we are? Are we embarrassed to be seen at worship? Are we embarrassed to be seen at prayer, such as when we are in public and offer thanks for our food?
When our devotion is deep, and when it's real, we will not worry about what others may think. Our focus will be on our God, and our thoughts will be centered on Him.