Michal: Love & Father Figures

“And Saul’s daughter Michal loved David…” 1 Sam. 18:20

Have you ever heard of Michal? She isn’t the most well-known character in the Bible, but she is nonetheless an important one. Important to we girls and women who want to learn what not to do as a follower of Christ. To truly understand Michal’s character, we need to understand the circumstances under which she lived, and the years that led up to her great mistake. Below is a summary.

Michal was the daughter of King Saul, the first monarch of Israel. At the time we meet Michal, Saul has heard the prophecy of his downfall and David is rising in favor with the people. David is only eighteen at the time. No doubt Michal had seen plenty of David; after all, she was a princess, and he was a national hero and hearthrob. I’m sure she had a stack of Israel Todays lying on her sheepskin with David’s face plastered all over them. And I bet it didn’t help that David was “ruddy and handsome and had beautiful eyes” (1 Sam. 16:12), either.

So the daughter of the King is in love with the Israelite Perseus. Before we move on, let me clarify the family situation here: King Saul did not like David. His daughter loved him. But this is not a case of a father’s over-protection; we will soon see that Saul is all too eager to pawn off Michal onto any Jew, Hun or Hittite that comes his way. Saul is afraid of David because Samuel has already told the king that Israel will be given to another. Saul believes that if he can kill David, the kingdom will remain in his hands. This is where Michal comes in.

Saul was poking through Michal’s room one day and saw her scroll lying open on her desk. He picked it up, as nosy fathers do. “Dear Diary,” he reads. “I can’t tell you how much I feel in my heart. David, son of Jesse, is the handsomest, strongest, bravest man I know.” Saul flushes angrily and almost throws the scroll across the room, but reads on. “I am so in love with him. His eyes are so beautiful, and his hair is such a lovely red-brown, I could swoon everytime I see him. I wish I could marry him!” Saul looks up with a wicked smile on his face. He throws the scroll down and dances devilishly around the room. He rubs his hands in glee. “Yes…yes! Let her marry him… let her be a snare to him!” Get the guy in the house and dad can kill him in no time.

A couple days later David is sent a message. Saul offers David Michal as a wife. But David refuses. “Is it such a small thing to become the king’s son-in-law?” he asks. Don’t I have to win the woman? he’s thinking. I’m a nobody! After all, she is a princess! “Well, this works, too,” Saul snickers. He responds to David: “Kill 100 Philistines for me as a bride-price.” The idea, of course, is for David to be killed. David agrees… and kills 200 Philistines instead! Saul, somewhat disappointed, hands over the merchandise — Michal.

We see the true character of Michal come out in 2 Samuel 6. Twenty years have passed since she was the love-struck young princess. David has just been crowned king of Israel, and the people are rejoicing in the streets. In a moment of utter abandonment in worship and praise to God, David dances in “a linen ephod” “with all his might” (v. 14). Michal, looking out a palace window, is watching.

When David returned from the celebration to ‘bless his household'(v. 20), Michal came out to meet him. Before he could open his mouth she snapped, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself before the eyes of his servant’s female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (v. 20) Sarcasm, jealousy and disrespect. Yet David responds as if he’s used to it: “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord — and I will make merry before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.” (v. 21-22, emphasis mine)

Michal’s remark to David revealed more than disgust for his choreography. She was revealing the true content of her heart. She had no understanding, no grasp on David’s relationship with God. If she had, she would have known David was not out to get the attention of a bunch of servant girls. He was doing what he said he was doing — dancing before the Lord. True love trusts. Michal’s “love” doubted and disrespected.

Michal’s idea of “love” had been twisted from the beginning. She seems to have “loved” David for his personality, popularity and power, but not because he had a heart for the Lord. This is not surprising, since Michal was raised in a home where the main male figure had no heart for God himself — Saul. When a girl never sees godly character portrayed before her, she is not likely to appreciate and look for it in her husband. Michal’s love for David was shallow and rootless. She could not understand David’s love for the Lord because she had none herself. So “she despised him in her heart” (v. 16), and responded to him in sarcasm, jealousy and disrespect.

There is much to be learned from this example. First, many girls don’t understand the importance of a father figure in their lives. Your father will set the example for what you desire in a husband. He will be your protector and guide; your guardian and friend. Michal had a father who didn’t set any kind of godly example for her to follow. Consequently, she never took her faith in God seriously. She also could not effectively be a helpmeet to her husband because she was not one in spirit with him. If her father had set that example, perhaps she would have followed it.

Secondly, Michal did not understand what true love was. As stated above, she based her love on David’s external attributes, not on what was in his heart. Her love was essentially attraction and infatuation — a glorified crush, if you will. True love does not care about looks, wealth, or popularity — it deals with the visions, desires and values of the person it touches. As 1 Samuel 16:7 says: “… For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” If Michal had had a godly father directly involved in her life, there is a good chance she would have understood what true love was.

Michal’s weaknesses can be found in some measure in us all. Let us learn from her mistake and choose to respond in love and not disdain, choose to accept godly authority in our lives, and choose to look beyond emotion and feeling to the attributes of a true, lasting love. And for those of you that have good, godly fathers — thank God for them! There are so many girls out there that are on their own — just like Michal.


One Response

  1. Nice Phy! I like the “Israel Today” bit.
    Autie =)

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