Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 22: A Woman Scorned

2 Samuel 6:16

New Living Translation (NLT)

Michal’s Contempt for David

Michal and her companions watch from her window. by Tissot.
16 But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.

20 When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”

I have become utterly fascinated with the women portrayed in the Bible. I suppose I always thought that somehow women back then were different than we are today. And in many ways, they were. In other ways, though, not so much.

I also grew up thinking for some reason that the story of David and Michal was some beautiful love story, and that the incident in 2 Samuel was just a little spat. Now I'm reading deeper into it. I'm recalling bits of the couple's history together. This probably won't be anything new to some of you who are familiar with David's dance and Michal's reaction, but I'm going to retell it anyway.

If we go back into 1 Samuel, we'll see that King Saul first offered Michal's older sister to be David's wife. He reneged on that though, and then turned around and offered Michal. David paid the bride-price for her, not only in full, but doubled. (Remember the 200 Philistine foreskins from yesterday's entry?)

Now, Michal was madly and deeply in love with David, which is why Saul schemed to marry her off. He really didn't want David as a son-in-law, he was hoping that the Philistines would kill him when he went to try and get the foreskins. Didn't happen, though, and Michal got to marry the man of her dreams.

But scripture never gives any indication that David returned the feelings for his wife. Quite the opposite, in fact. Even after she had risked her own life to save him from her father, he never tried to see her again. He met twice with her brother, but not her. He never tried to make any provisions for her, never tried to take her with him. During his time as a fugitive from King Saul, he made provisions for his family, he took on a couple of new wives, but it appears that he never gave Michal a second thought. Of course, it didn't matter much. After David went on the run, King Saul selected a new husband for her. The marriage couldn't have been legitimate, since David had not divorced her according to custom, but if David knew bout the new guy, he didn't care.

It wasn't until many years later that they are reunited. I'm not sure how many years David was on the run, but I do know that after Saul died, David reigned as king over Judah for 7 years, while the house of Saul continued on over the rest of Israel through one of his sons. At some point, the new king Ish-Bosheth had a disagreement with one of his captains, Abner, and Abner decided he was done with it. He was going to help facilitate transferring the kingdom into David's hands. So he went to David and worked out a deal with him. Part of that deal was that Michal would be returned to him. Not because he loved her, but because was politically expedient. After all, she was his wife, and she was Saul's daughter, and though he didn't need her, I suppose it would give his kingship more legitimacy in the minds of those who might object.

Apparently Paltiel was as much in love with Michal as she was with David. We don't hear anything of her feelings for her second husband, we just know that he followed her when she was taken away, and was so heartbroken that he cried as he followed, until someone forced him to turn back homeward. I wonder how she felt. Was she excited to be reunited with her first love? Or had she already figured out that she was still being used as a political pawn? Would she miss Paltiel, who loved her the way she wanted to be loved by David?

All we really know is that she was taken to live in David's house, where he had several other wives, and children with each of them. It's easy to assume that since some time passed between her coming to live with him and the day of David's dance, that she hadn't been invited to share a bed with him, since it seems that David had no trouble with libido or fertility, and yet Michal still wasn't pregnant. I can imagine that she was burning with jealousy for quite some time. So when she saw David dancing in a linen ephod, which seems to not have covered him very well, she became furious that every other woman who saw him was able to admire his body.

That was the pivotal moment in their relationship. Whatever feelings she still had for David, they turned to pure hatred. She didn't hesitate to give him a public tongue-lashing once he came to celebrate with his wives and children. The Bible says she came out to meet him, so this was definitely something not done in private. His entire household heard every word she said.

David was angry at her outburst, and promptly put her in her place, reminding her that God had chosen him over her father to rule the kingdom, and that He was going to worship the Lord how he saw fit, and no matter how foolish he looked in her eyes, she could be sure that the women who had seen him would not think he looked foolish at all. 

I guess they never got over it. They never had children, which must have added to her feelings of worthlessness. Her husband didn't love her, the other women in his house didn't respect her as first wife, and she never had a child. What a lonely existence it must have been. In any case, that's  the last we hear of her.

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