Bible Topics
in the Christian Library
Personalities Of The Old Testament
MICHAL – Bitter Isolation, Pouty Pride
1 Samuel 18, 19

 1. Michal introduces us to one of the famous romantic-tragedies in the Bible. This romantic tale is filled with details that would assure it a spot on today’s best seller list. Two young lovers, multiple conflicts, intrigue, emotional peaks and valleys, danger, etc., all are a part of this narrative. The setting begins in the halls of royalty goes to the desert wilderness crosses multiple battlefields and eventually returns to the King’s palace.

 However this romantic tale lacks the conclusion where the couple lives “happily ever after” as the curtain comes down. Such an ending could have been possible but “love” was not enthroned in its rightful place and bitterness was allowed to rule.

 Michal’s love story highlights the all too familiar story of what a marriage becomes when love is absent. The love that brought the couple together is replaced by resentment and bitterness.

 2. The tragedy of Michal – the joyous home filled with affection becomes a bitter battle zone! A good illustration is provided by an incident in the life of Socrates. His wife, Zantippe, was a woman with a furious temper. At one time, having vented all the reproaches upon him that her fury could suggest, Socrates went out and sat on his front steps. His calm and unconcerned behavior only further irritated her. In her rage she ran upstairs and emptied a pitcher of water upon his head. Socrates only laughed, saying that so much thunder could only produce rain!

 3. Think for a moment how critical affection is for a marriage. ASK – What does affection do for a marriage? What occurs whenever affection is absent? How can affection be nurtured in a marriage?

 4. The love story of David and Michal, the daughter of Saul, a most unpleasant lesson. All would do well to remember this story and how it applies to Christians.

 They first met soon after Goliath had been killed. David had been promised Saul’s daughter, Merab, as a reward for killing the giant. However Saul’s jealousy, fear, and a host of other complex evils led the king to betray his promise and Merab was given to another. News reached Saul that his younger daughter, Michal, loved David. Saul seized upon this information to plot David’s death. David was willing to do anything to claim Michal as his wife (18:27). He heroically claimed her and the two began a loving marriage relationship.

 a. The Marital Problems
  The great affection these newly weds shared is evident in the way they reacted to Saul’s persecution (19:11-17). Saul’s violence had no restraints of conscience. The King finally ceased any covert operations for killing David and publicly condemned him to death.

  David faced a number of personal attacks from King Saul but escaped each one (18:10). Failing to kill him personally, Saul laid a trap to ambush and kill David. Michal learned of the plot and helped David escape by covering an idol and claiming it was David sick in bed. After her deception was found out, she lied to Saul to save her own life. David wrote an account of this escape in Psalm 59. 

  David’s escape began a period of his life when he was exiled from the capitol. He wandered in the wilderness.

 b. The Marital Separation
  When David fled from Saul’s ambush, Michal was taken and given to another man as his wife (2 Sa 3:13-16). For eight to ten years the lovers remained separated. There is no indication that they ever saw each other during this period.

 c. The Marital Reunion 
  The reunion of David and Michal occurred after King Saul’s death. This reunion brings into sharp focus the bitternesss that had developed during the separation. This bitterness would soon lead them into another separation. 

  After Saul was killed, his throne was passed on to his surviving son, but there would never again be the unity and allegiance that Saul had enjoyed (2 Sa 3:1). Finally negotiations were successful and the two warring parties (King Saul’s troops and David’s troops) were united (2 Sa 2:12ff). The number one condition in David’s negotiations was the immediate return of Michal to him (2 Sa 3:13). No doubt the memories of his “first love” were fondly treasured in his mind.

  The reunion officially took place at Hebron. After ten long years of separation, David was about to meet “the wife of his youth.” Can you imagine how David felt as he waited for Michal? He was about to be reunited with his first love, with the woman who had protected him in spite of personal danger. His expectations must have been high but they were about to be dashed to pieces. Things had drastically changed over ten years and the two young lovers were very much different.

 d. The Marital Differences
  Differences existed between David and Michal when they first met and married. These had seemed so small and insignificant. While the two were the same outwardly, they had drastically different values and these had become concrete during the ten year period of separation. These differences were not that noticeable as they were “dating,” and planning their wedding and as they lived together the first few years. However these differences grew and finally erupted on one of Israel’s most festive days of celebration. 

  The differences led to the death of the marital love. Bitterness took the place of affection. The last words describing this marriage union are very sad (2 Sa 6:23).

 e. The Marital Tragedy
  There seems to be only one fault that was responsible for the disintegration of the love and affection of David and Michal. Remember that Satan needs only one fault and he will use that as a crack through which he can send a flood of disaster (Jas 2:10).

  Michal’s singular failing was that she failed to honor God in her life! Her desire was for prestige not holiness; for idolatry not true worship. She had been trained under Saul’s monarchy. In that period there was no national concern for God (1 Chron 13:3). Public worship was neglected; religious zeal was dead. Michal knew of God but she did not truly “know” God! She placed God on equality with the “teraphim” (19:16). Her religion was marked with superstition, formality, and coldness. As she grew older, she could tolerate David’s piety no longer! In David she had loved the hero and King. She did not love Jehovah and was thus offended with David’s humility and pious enthusiasm as he joined with Israel to celebrate (2 Sa 6:20).

  A single failing turned her love into bitterness. This bitterness brought her marriage to a terrible tragedy.

  It is this same failing that is responsible for many marriages falling apart today. In homes where joy ought to reign, many are filled with bitter trials because on spouse loves God more than the other. In such homes there is the added sorrow of knowing that two people have pledged themselves to a mutual love, yet they are pressing toward an eternity of separation! Many who begin marriage with a strong faith and love for God gradually yield convictions for what is called “peace.” They only find greater turmoil!

 When bitterness replaces affection there will be definite consequences that follow. Not only are these evident in marriages, but they are evident in any relationship (especially in the Lord’s Church) that parts because love for God is stronger in one party. What are the consequences of allowing affection to be replaced by bitterness?

 a. A proud and haughty spirit will appear.
  Michal wanted the life of royalty; she wanted nothing to do with the “common people.” This shows that our value judgments are closely connected to our faith. When two disagree on matters of faith, they will also disagree on values of living. David’s devotion to God had reflected on Michal’s queenly dignity because he had freely mixed with the commoners.  Michal saw herself as “Saul’s daughter” and thus kept herself aloof from others.

 b. Sarcasm and biting language will be hurled at another.
  The festive day was the happiest in David’s life. He had returned to “bless” his home (6:20). He came in expecting to find a joyous feast, but he walked straight into a “hornets’ nest.” The first words to greet him were sarcastic. Michal was incensed as she shouted at David. “Foolish” is the strongest term in Hebrew that expresses contempt toward another. She was calling him an “empty-headed fool” (cf Mt 5:22).  Perhaps this ridicule gave David the insight to write Psalms 52:2; 57:4; 120:3. Michal accused David of being “naked.” All he had done was merely change the kingly garments for the dress of the ordinary citizen. This scene of sarcasm is tragic when it appears in any relationship!

  c. A lack of understanding, resentment, and ultimate alienation occurs.
  Because of the differences between these two people there arose alienation. Michal “despised” David (6:16). This refers to her deep feelings of contempt. Many Christians have been “de-spiritualized” by this action. The differences in their faith is too great an obstacle because one seeks the world and the other seeks God. The only way one can maintain unity is to compromise God’s will. If compromise is not made then alienation occurs.

 7. This great love story offers a sad conclusion. How different the story might have ended if only Michal had been a woman “after God’s own heart.” She and David ceased living as husband and wife. Their estrangement probably became more acute (2 Sa 6:23). A reference is made to her having five sons (2 Sa 21:8) but these were probably Merab’s, not Michal’s. Evidently Michal raised her sister’s children.

 This romance ends in disaster. The once-tender relationship was destroyed because one allowed affection to be replaced by bitterness. This happened because one loved God and the other loved the world. 

 How tragic to think that there are loving relationships in the Lord’s Church today that are destined for this same disaster because “brotherly affection” is being replaced by unforgiveness, self-centeredness, pride, sharp-tongues, sarcasm, resentment, and an intolerance for others who are dedicated to God’s will instead of the world.

 Each student of God’s Holy Book should take a serious look at how important it is for Faith to bond our relationships together. Such is critical in marriages and homes. Such is critical in the Lord’s Church.

Copyright 1999 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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