Tag Archives: David

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The First Window Scene

Michal was in a tight spot (yet again) when she heard Saul’s servants were going to kill David in the morning. She prepared a couple ideas but had to improvise.

So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped. And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth. And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick. (1 Samuel 19:12-14)

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But there are two things that make people gasp. Michal has an image! A.K.A—idol!  Well, say critics, that’s proof she cares only for worldly status. Plus lying is terrible even if you’re trying to save someone.

Um, really?

Plus this is only a snapshot of her.

Was this possibly in her bag of tricks? She may have been drawn to idols, but having one nearby was so…convenient.

Her father’s reaction is full of shock.

And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster. And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped? And Michal answered Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; why should I kill thee? (1 Samuel 19:15-17)

In Michal’s Moral Dilemma by Jonathan Rowe, he calls the use of the idol “genius.” In Leah Kohn’s essay “The Story of Michal Beyond Loyalty to Torah,” she suggests that Michal’s word choice actually saved her husband’s life while also sparing her father less humiliation.

This window scene gives a peek of Michal as a woman who kept her marriage covenant to David and did everything to save him.

The Bible mentions that she did things before this that honored David and scared Saul. (1 Samuel 18:28-29).  So there were multiple incidents of her helping David. If we were  told more details about these incidents, Michal would receive far less criticism.

Further Reading:
1 Samuel 19

Michal’s Moral Delemma: A Literary, Anthropological and Ethical Interpretation by John Rowe. (See http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/michals-moral-dilemma-9780567076885/#sthash.BZVDtEFV.dpuf  for details)

 The Story of Michal Beyond Loyalty to Torah by Leah Kohn

Painting:
Michal lets David escape from the window. By Gustave Doré, 1865.

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Manipulation and Marriage

After David and Goliath…

I read a fictional book and an article where it said Michal stole David from her older sister, Merab. That Michal manipulated David into marrying her. If that’s true, I actually think that deserves applause. Alas, I don’t think that’s the case. I have to say, though, that1 Samuel 18 is a game of manipulation.

The chapter starts out with Jonathan loving David, the two making a covenant, and Jonathan demonstrating he would do whatever it took to make David king. Don’t underestimate the friendship between Jonathan and David. Between tutoring David of royal duties and training him to become a warrior king, they had to have talked about other stuff…

Saul talked to David about marrying Merab at first. David could marry Merab if he swore his loyalty and fight for Saul. For me, David seems to be putting on an act when he responded: “What am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel that I should be the son in law to the king?”

There’s no mention of Saul pressing this matter on him, but the next verse reads: “But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul’s daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.” (1 Samuel 18:17-19)

If David had a preference for either Merab or Michal, it’s likely Jonathan would know. He would know and do something about it. Or perhaps Jonathan and David discussed who would be better suited for David as a wife. Whatever the case, I’m sure Jonathan—who would save David’s life and prove that he could persuade his father—would have stepped in.

The plan for Michal to marry David could have been in action before this. Certainly, now that one of two daughters was married off, David wanted the single one for his wife and something had to happen. I believe Jonathan was instrumental in the plan.

Verse 20 sparks suspicion from two opposing sides–those who think David wanted Merab and those who think he wanted Michal. The verse reads:

“And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.”

Yes, now that Merab was unavailable, it seems people come up suddenly and speak of Michal’s love. There were things going on behind the scenes. But I hardly believe Michal could have orchestrated this plan by herself.

Besides, we’re told already all Israel and Judah loved David. So it wasn’t as if people came forward saying, “Guess what? Your young daughter also loves David!”

That wouldn’t have been news to anyone. Surely the readers must realize this.

The verse is vague. A question that should arise is who exactly is “they”? Most likely Saul’s servants but perhaps other servants. Did Saul send them to Michal and ask if she was interested in marrying David? Or was she and possibly Jonathan plotting with them? Michal’s love was perhaps something Saul wanted to hear.

Here was Saul’s thought process and commands to his servants:

And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.

And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king’s son in law. (1 Samuel 18:21-22)

At first David has the same reaction as he did when Saul presented the idea of marrying Merab:

And Saul’s servants spake those words in the ears of David. “And David said, Seemeth it to you light thing to be a king’s son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?” (1 Samuel 18:23)

Saul wasn’t about to let David go this time. Was he getting counsel from someone? If so, the whom? Perhaps Saul had made David an offer before, but David didn’t take it. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say David was being coached.

Back to the chapter and what happens after David’s passive answer:

And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David. And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law. (1 Samuel 18:24-16)

Whether David was pleased to be on his way to coming king or/and couldn’t wait to marry Michal. He doesn’t mind he could marry her. It’s kind of strange actually. He puts his whole heart in the deadly mission.

“Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins” (1 Samuel 18:27)

Saul had no choice but to let Michal and David marry. Instead of Saul manipulating the situation, David won this battle.

Jonathan had made a covenant with David. Now Michal also made a covenant with David through marriage. She would be a good wife.

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David and Goliath, or the Quest for Michal Begins

Going WAY back. To better times…

It’s hard to know when Michal actually met David. He was already a minor celebrity when, through word of mouth, got the the appointment as one of the king’s musicians. Before coming to court, he was anointed as Israel’s next king.

Saul and his household appreciated the peace he brought to court. Through Saul’s disobedient and perhaps through the traumas of battles, the evil spirit that plagued Saul left when David played. Good music is good therapy.

Very few knew of David’s call to be king at this time. He would have been more observant of Saul and his family than they were of him. There was something special, though, about this harp player that impressed Saul and others. Yet, Saul inquired more about him after he defeated Golaith. David then became a resident in the royal household.

Is This Not a Cause?

Oh, yes, we need to discuss David and Goliath.

There was terror—even from Michal’s brave father—with the threat of Goliath. There were rumors. David picked up on some when he acquired what’s up by men on the roadside. Goliath was feared and David heard some men say that “The man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:25-27)

Did he hear that right? David asked if it true, and the people were confident that the victor would get those great prizes.

David’s oldest brother, Eliab, was taken aback when he heard David’s conversation. I find David’s reply a little enlightening. “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29)

Or a couple. Did you pick up on anything? Or anybody? Basically this was a nice lead way into gaining access to kingship.

And daughter? The passage doesn’t specify Michal or her older sister Merab which I find interesting. Perhaps David didn’t care which daughter as long as marrying one of the king’s daughter got him closer to being king. Still I find it curious that Merab’s name isn’t inserted.

David was young. Most likely too young to marry now according to Saul. Merab and Michal were surely young—maybe not even considered women yet. For sure they were going to get married since it was in their father’s best interest to make alliances.

Happy Days

It was a happy day for Israel when David defeated Goliath. Israel was pumped and chased the Philistines. David moved into the royal household.

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David had got what was promised. Almost. He was still too young to marry Saul’s daughter, but the idea was planted in his head. David always got what he wanted. Always.

I mentioned before how David would have found Michal appealing. The chances of marrying a rare Benjaminite woman of her position, were out of his world. Of course Merab fit the same criteria, but Michal was also the younger daughter. Biblical tradition shows the eldest daughter was married off first. As we see in the Jacob, Leah, and Rachel story, a younger daughter is more of a challenge to get. The more challenging, the better for David.

Sources:
1 Samuel 17

Images:
David gegen Goliath by Gebhard Fugel
David Slays Goliath by Gustave Dore

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Michal: The Assassination of a King

I seriously don’t know how Michal found the will to live. She was a woman who took action though.  Her husband had multiple wives and children. Yet they might have made good allies. Still, at least one came from a family that was anti-Saul. There were conspiracies. There were those against her. If I had been Michal, I  would have been so terrified at the death of Abner.

Had she gotten physically sick after Abner’s death like her brother, Ishbosheth?

Ishbosheth’s “hands were feeble”  when he heard about Abner’s death.  Could a war start again? Could he be next? The text implies that Ishbosheth was physically sick from worry. He laid down in the hot afternoon when Saul’s former captains, Rechab and Baanah, stabbed and then beheaded him. They took his head and raced through the night to meet David in Hebron. The two assassins thought that David would be pleased to see the son of a man who tried to kill him. Did Michal see her brother’s decapitated head? Perhaps David was temporally in his wife’s favor when he put Rechab and Baanah to death. She was most likely in a state of shock. David was ensuring her protection and put Ishbosheth’s head in Abner’s sepulchre.

It still didn’t change the fact, though, that yet another family member was brutally murdered. Had she felt justice was served with the executions of Rechab and Baanah? Their betrayal was shameful because it broke the code of loyalty the tribe of Benjamin valued.

Really–who could Michal trust?

Sources
2 Samuel 4

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Michal: Persuasion, Party, and Murder

Abner presented David’s case to be king to the elders of Israel. He persuaded the Benjaminites and the rest of Israel to switch sides. Was Michal part of the things he spoke about in conversations? The daughter of Saul was pleased to be united with David and thought he was the true king–that could persuade people. Who knows, but she had to act a certain way for people to believe what Abner was saying.

“And Abner also spake in the ears of Benjamin: and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel, and that seemed good to the whole house of Benjamin.”.

She must have conducted herself well. David was pleased enough to throw Abner a feast.

Did Michal attend? Would she have been allowed? Thanks to her, Abner was honored and  more people recognized David as king. It was a sort of celebration for her arrival—even if she had come back as a prop and trophy.

The feast was a signal that David trusted Abner, and Michal and other Benjaminites had security. This proved untrue, and way too soon, she was reminded she couldn’t let her guard down.

Not long after the feast, Abner was dead.

Murdered by David’s nephews, Joab and Abishai, in revenge for their brother’s death during the war between the houses of Saul and David.

How could Michal trust David now? He made it a point for all the people to know it wasn’t his fault and Joab would be responsible. David gave an emotional performance at Abner’s burial. He “wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.”

There’s a probability that Michal was one of those people.  Was she also scared?

Abner’s death was terrifying for the house of Saul. This was a warning to watch out.

Source
2 Samuel 3

 

 

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Michal: Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Call her a pawn but could Michal wanted to go back to David? Conflicts have arisen about this since she spent more time with Patil than with David. Or some say she really wanted to go back—others go beyond that and say she just wanted to go to be associated with the king.

It was unsafe to be rescued or escape. Not just for her ad David, but for others. Did she soften hearts or was hers hardened with she was with those who probably despised David? Did she keep some people from chasing after him? To answer that last question, yes. Yes she did by staying.

There was too much bloodshed in her country already. After he father and three of her brothers were killed, Saul’s house and David’s house engaged in a long war—what was the expected outcome? Land? To get loyal subjects? Included in the winner’s package was Michal. Have we ever realized that part of this war was fought for her? She was used as a pawn and bait.  She was a girl worth fighting for.

She was a very valuable pawn but maybe a little more powerful than we think. But how do you really stop of war?

David proved to have more advantages as the war with Saul’s house continued. (2 Samuel 3:1) He was the one who declared he wanted Michal back. (2 Samuel 3:14) And she went. It wasn’t a simple walk though. She stilled had security guards—most notably her husband, Phaltiel (2 Samuel 3:16)

I assume that spending so much time with the Benjaminites made her care more for them. Whatever she felt about Patil, her strong connection with the other Benjaminites mattered. Too many kin and members of her tribe were dead. Israelites who weren’t part of either Benjamin or Judah were suffering from the two tribes’ conflicts.

When Michal was offered to go back with David, she accepted. It’s very possible she might have fought against it. Was she physically forced? I’m not saying she went back willingly, but it was a duty she completed for the sake of a nation. She was a peace offering but had little peace herself.

There’s a void of what happened between Ish-bosheth’s death and Israel accepting David as king but it would be interesting to know how David succeeded. Swords, arrows, alliances, and good advisors helped but who really brought the civil war to a close? With her hard work, smart moves, and sacrifice, Michal was the woman who put David on the throne.

Matthew 5: 9
2 Samuel 3

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Michal: Relationship Rumors and Allegiances

Okay, the ever popular question surrounding Jonathan and David:Was Jonathan gay?

I don’t know the answer to that. But I wonder how Michal felt about the close relationship of her husband and brother.

I see the Princess Caroline of England (1713-1757) relating somewhat to Michal in this case. Caroline was childless and unmarried which caused grief—especially when it came for her love toward a certain Lord Hervey. He was married, bisexual, had affairs with the ladies at court and possibly with Caroline’s brother.

Now I think David was a noble man who followed God’s commands—including polygamy. It’s a known fact that many people in the Bible struggled with it. Though David was lawfully married to his other wives (before the real craziness), it would be difficult to know of his other wives with children. I also don’t believe David was gay, but he recognized Jonathan’s love publicly: “thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” (2 Samuel 1:26). That may have also had a crushing effect on her heart has well.

Princess Caroline died suddenly but her goodness and sadness was well-known.

As for Michal, she still lived long after Saul and her brothers died. It’s hard to imagine how she managed. She wasn’t returned to David after Saul’s death. Rather, war went on between the houses of Saul and David—started by her cousin Abner and David’s nephew, Joab.

Abner put her surviving brother Ishbosheth on the throne. It wasn’t until Ishbosheth accused Abner of taking Saul’s concubine, Rizpah, for himself that Abner decided to switch allegiances to David, the stronger house.

David sent messengers to Abner to bring him “Michal, Saul’s daughter,” and Ishbosheth that said, “Deliver me my wife Michal” to seal the deal with Abner.

And, oh, what went on when Michal found out she had to go also sparks debate…

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Michal: The Battle of Gilboa

I can’t stress enough how impossible it was for Michal and David to reunite with each other. How could she find David who was on the run? Jonathan would have made a good ally as he was also helping preserve David’s life—but was also busy serving Saul and country. He didn’t seem to have the time to fully help her. How could Jonathan drag his sister through battles to reach David where she could be killed? It was so risky. We find out just how risky it was for Saul, Jonathan, and Israel’s best soldiers during the Battle of Gilboa.

The Israelites lost at the Battle of Gilboa. The Philistines’ main strategy was to go for the leaders. They “followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons.” (1 Samuel 31.: 2) Saul was literally the main target. Archers shot him, and his wounds were fatal. The Israelites were losing, and to Saul, it was pointless to go on. He asked his armor bearer to kill him with his sword, but the armor bearer couldn’t bring himself to kill his king. An Amalekite fulfilled Saul’s death wish. After Saul died, the armor bearer killed himself with the sword. (2 Samuel 1: 8-10)

Saul’s sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua and choicest men were slain by the Philistines. This battle is full of blood and loyalty—people did care for their king and country. Even Jonathan, whom Saul had nearly killed times, fought beside his father. Jonathan, who “loved David like his own soul,” protected showed he would have died for David, (1 Samuel 18:3 ) but he still loved his father and fought for the same cause. As part of the army, he also had made allegiance to Saul that he would die for him. He ended up dying with him. Jonathan “So Saul died, and his three sons, and his amour bearer, and all his men, that same day together.” (1 Samuel 31:6). In David’s psalm, How Are the Mighty Fallen, “In their death, they were not separated.” (2 Samuel 1:23)

“How Are the Mighty Fallen” can be seen as a form of propaganda with an objective to get Saul supporters on David’s side. It is genuine as David showed compassion to Jonathan and Saul at past moments when it would have been easy to kill Saul.

David didn’t want Gath (home of the Philistines) to know the details of Saul’s death “lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice” (2 Samuel 1:20). He wants Israel to know of a mighty king’s death. In contrast to the daughters of the Philistines, he says, “ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel” (2 Samuel 1:24) He’s telling Israel to look at the wonderful things Saul did for them, and if gossip comes up about him (which always does with royalty), the talk among gossips should be positive.

This psalm could also be reaching out to Michal. How fast did it reach her and how was it received? The psalm expresses a range of emotions into already mixed feelings she held towards her father. Saul did look after her while taking away who she valued most. Now that person was praising Saul which raised confusion. Yet the death of her father and three brothers would have taken a greater toll on her than the rest of the country. She was living in an area extremely loyal to Saul who would have met their king and kinsmen’s death with more distress than the other tribes of Israel.

David really wanted Israel to know—especially the Benjaminites and Michal—that he was very sad over the death of Saul. The song is beautiful, but who was nearer to comfort her? Patil and others who were loyal to Saul, and in a literal sense, closer to her than David. It was the perfect setup for Michal to be manipulated. Michal probably heard David’s song, but it didn’t totally reach out to her. The sorrow David expressed is touching, but could the song have fell flat to a wife who made sacrifices for him?

David finishes his psalm mourning the loss of Jonathan. Michal would have been sad over his death too, but as David’s wife, there was a possibility that she was offended by a particular line about David and Jonathan’s relationship: “Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26) Michal was tough, but that line could have put her over the edge. Her father had died in a shameful way, and three brothers were killed in that same battle. Could such losses ever be forgotten?

 

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Michal: Why Michal Didn’t Run Away and Why David Didn’t Rescue Her

Some  say David betrayed Michal by leaving her behind, and others say Michal was okay with marrying Phalti. Some of the latter go beyond that and say she could have escaped.

I found more fault with David because he saved two other wives on the run (1 Samuel 30) Why couldn’t he save her? But Michal had proved herself clever in the past. So why didn’t she find a way out?

I’m excited to say I found the answer—it was too unsafe.

Just how unsafe would be a rescue mission? The answers are found in the short verses that give Phalti a description—and some follow up examination.

 

“But Saul had given Michal, his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.” (1 Samuel 25:44)

In order to make Michal disappear from David’s life, Saul gave his daughter to someone in a geographic area he could trust.

Let’s examine this “Phalti son of Laish, which was of Gallim.”

Michal was given to man loyal to Saul. His name and the locations point toward him being a Benjaminate since he resided in Benjaminite territory.

Laish is the name of land that the prophet, Isaiah, associated with Gallim(Isaiah 10:30). “Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish.”

Phalti was either native to the land of Laish or his father shared or gave his name to the territory. Gallim is thought to belong to the tribe of Benjamin and north of Jerusalem. (To see a map and more information take a look  at http://bibleatlas.org/laishah.htm)

 

“And her husband [Phalti] went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim.” (Samuel 3:15-16)

This description of Phalti occurs when Michal returns to David.

Though some of David’s mighty men hailed from Bahurim (2 Sam 23: 31), David preferred to stay alive. Any association with David, and your life was in danger.  A woman had to hide two of David’s messengers there. (2 Samuel 17:18)

The time David did venture into Bahurim was years later and he was now king of Israel. Still, he didn’t get respect.

“And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth and cursed still as he came.” (2 Samuel 16:5)

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Shimei throwing stones at King David in Bahurim.

 

David kept his peace and pardoned Shimei (then) for downright treason. Shimei threw stones and made piecing remarks at David’s dysfunctional family.  David was lucky enough not to be assassinated. He probably would have been killed by Saul’s men when Saul was king, and  he wouldn’t have been able to reach Michal.

 

Conclusion

David wanted to please the Lord and fulfill his calling by becoming king of Israel. Sadly, that prevented him her from rescuing Michal. Michal might have realized this, but she still had to stay alive in order for David to fulfill his calling—a huge act of faith on her part.

Michal probably experienced more pain than the reader can imagine when she found about David rescuing his two other wives. But living in such a guarded place prevented her from running away. Maybe she tried, but it wouldn’t have worked. It would have been hard to make allies in a land so loyal to Saul. It’s very likely Saul had spies. He surely received reports of events.

David would have been committing suicide if he went as a fugitive to rescue his wife. It’s possible he sent some men there. If that happened, though, they would have been killed. Even after Saul died, there was a war between the houses of David and Saul. David and Michal were powerless to reunite with each other.  Michal and David were united as soon as it was possible.

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Notes:

Bible: King James Version.
For the summary of Michal’s storyline, click here.

Image:
Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860. By Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld .