Friday, August 17, 2007

David & Michal

Every so often I examine a marriage from the Bible, and try to glean some wisdom from it. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:6, "Now these things [that happened to Old Testament Israel] took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did." My friend, Russ Kennedy, once said in a sermon: "The Old Testament narratives have within them heart oriented imperatives. The sins of the Old Testament saints have a 'not like this' purpose." In other words, Christians are to distill ethics from the accounts of the history of Israel. Today I thought I'd mine for gold from the marriage of King David and Michal.

We don't read much in Scripture concerning Michal. She grew to love David while her father, Saul, was king of Israel. Eventually King Saul promised Michal to David to be his wife. As Saul sought to kill David, Michal seemed faithful to David, even helping him escape. After Saul's death in battle, David consolidated his power over Israel, and brought the ark of the covenant to the city of David. We then read a somewhat strange account of the beginning of the end of their match made in Heaven. It is recorded for us in 2 Samuel 6.

"So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn. As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. . . . And David returned to bless is household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, 'How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants' female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!'" (2 Sam. 6:16, 20)

How did Michal's love turn to hatred? She clearly loved David with a loyalty that surpassed the love and loyalty she had for her father. When forced to choose between Saul and David, Michal chose David. Now in this text we see that Michal despised David in her heart. Why the change? Somehow David had become an object of scorn in her heart. While some would think it unwise to speculate, I agree with my brother Russ that there are heart oriented imperatives in this text. We must find the "not like this" purpose for God recording the condition of Michal's heart.

Michal did not like the fact that "David danced before the Lord with all his might" (2 Sam. 6:14). She may have been appalled at David's apparent lack of dignity and decorum. He was, after all, king of Israel. He should act like king. Kings don't go gallivanting in the streets in a rhythmic frenzy in front of all the commoners - particularly when those commoners are young ladies. Michal was the daughter of a king. She was a princess. She probably thought she knew how royalty was to maintain themselves. David wasn't living up to his high position. He was not honoring himself. Michal may have also been jealous of the the king's attention. She brings up the fact that female servants saw him as a vulgar fellow. The picture I get is that Michal thought David made an absolute fool of himself, and therefore of her as well. He should have known better. David doesn't take this confrontation lying down. He has a response.

"David said to Michal, '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 shall be held in honor.' And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death" (2 Sam. 6:21-22).

David seems to take Michal's insult as an affront to his worship. He points out how her dignified father and his dignified royal family were given the boot by God himself. What right does the royal daughter of an overthrown king have to tell the chosen king how to behave before his Lord? David was happy to be favored by the Lord. He was happy that God had chosen to favor the nation of Israel. He was not afraid of this happiness. He let it overflow in merry dancing in the streets, without fear of anyone watching. David tells Michal not to expect anything different from him in the future, and David expects even more resentment and contempt from Michal in the future. David flaunts the honor shown him by strange women in comparison to the dishonor shown him by his own wife. This is the largest revelation of the relationship between David and Michal. I'll lay out a couple lessons I think we have to learn.

First, David, the man after God's own heart, wasn't ashamed of his God. While David was far from perfect, he was publicly proud of his God his entire life. His faith in God's power was apparent from the days of Goliath until his death. Do you have the heart of David? Would you shamelessly dance in the streets in worship to your God? Or are you afraid to even lift a hand in worship service at church? Does your joy in God have to overflow in public adoration? Or are you too constrained and stoic to indulge in such folly? Are you happy in the God on your side? Or are you wrapped up in the drudgery of life?

Second, Michal was afraid of how the people of Israel may view David. Rather than be concerned with God's praise being lifted up, she was concerned with David's praise being diminished. In addition, she seemed jealous of David's attention. Michal didn't bring up the men who may see David dancing in the streets. She brought up the women. Are you afraid of what others think of you? Do you make decisions based on what would please God? Or do you make decisions based on what others expect of you? Do you let God's Word set your agenda? Or do you let the traditions and opinions of others guide your life? Are you secure in the love of your spouse? Or are you perpetually suspicious and insecure?

Finally, I think we should see the danger inherent in any earthly relationship. Michal was David's wife. It can be assumed that she had some kind of influence over him, and vice versa. We must never let earthly relationships influence us away from godliness. David refused to allow his wife to talk him out of worship. In fact, he rebuked her for her judgment of him. Now there were other times in David's life where he humbly took the rebuke of others, even his subordinates while he was king. While being a ferocious man of war, capable of great destruction on the battlefield, humility was one of the hallmarks of David's life. Yet, when confronted by his wife about his shameless worship, he didn't cave in. He admitted no wrong, and accepted no blame. He rightfully considered his wife to be the one with the problem.

David's son, Solomon, eventually allowed his wives to lead him away from faithfulness to God. He allowed their influence over him to lead him down sinful paths. David didn't fall for it. Do you allow your spouse to influence you away from godliness, away from shameless worship, away from radical living? Does your spouse pull your spiritual strings? Can your spouse convince you to be less missional? Can your spouse convince you to live a comfortable little normal life that's expected of normal people? Or do you guard your heart, even from your own spouse, if such cowardly discipleship is suggested? We have many lessons we can learn from Old Testament saints and sinners. We will continue to examine marriage biographies from the Bible in the days ahead.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am pondering how David was a man after God's own heart and yet seems to create so much trouble for his own family. I appreciate your points about D and M but think there is a deeper problem in Michal than just keeping up appearances. I believe she had loved David and was deeply wounded by him. I wonder what you would think of the ideas presented at www.womenotm.org/lih/RiseAbove.htm ??
As a woman wanting to be after God's own heart I found it most helpful and wonder what a man's perspective would be.

Darby Livingston said...

I'll check it out and see. Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

she was the founding member of the 'First Wife's Club' - this seems to happen all the time when when tables turn and the other spouse's standing drops while the other one rises. Joan Rivers once interviewed Howard Stern before his divorce -she asked "Is Allison your first wife(before your fame)?" When he said 'yes' she then said 'It'll never last'

KTgirl said...

I'll tell ya why she despised him... He ripped her away from her husband who loved her and cried when she was taken away, only to add her to his growing harem of wives and concubines. After this little incident, he shuts her away so no one can have her and so she can have no children. Then a few years later when a vengeful king of another country asks David for 7 sons of Saul to be killed, David takes Michal's 5 adopted sons and has them killed. There were apparently other choices but he chose her 5 sons and 2 others. Wow! no wonder she hated him. I think he hated her too!

Jean Miller said...

Thank you for the post. I have been raising my hands to praise and worship God while singing at church. I sat at the very front. Every single service I sing with tears of joy and raise my hands for His presence as it was just me and Jesus alone.
Than I was called to a meetings by assistant pastors, said if I want to worship like that I need to sit in the back so I won't draw so much attention to myself, even they claimed I didn't mean to do that. I said this is the Spirit of Michal, because if their eyes are only at Jesus, they won't notice I was even there. They rebuked me said that doesn't apply because they are talking about a church service, etc. It's much comfort to see this article. Thank you. I love God with all of my heart and God will be the judge. :)

Darby Livingston said...

Glad it helped. Keep those hands raised!

Ben Stone said...

Have been waiting to hear your comment on the 15 July '08 post of 'Anonymous'. You stated later that day you'd check it out and see.... Three years on, any thoughts?

Darby Livingston said...

I'm in agreement with the points presented in that article. I don't see any contradiction with what I've written here. No one could accuse David of being a model husband, which is why we must look to David's greater Son, who is in fact, the model husband.

Philip said...

There is another lesson to be learnt from this sad story. Through Michal, Satin hit David in his V-spot (vulnerability spot)and in reaction to this he harboured a deep rooted bitterness against her.No one can harbour bitterness without it impacting negatively on one's life and relationships with other people. The fallout from this fateful incident and the bitterness it sowed in David was adultery with Bathsheba and the untimely death of Absalom. Most often the things we do that are so wrong are rooted in past hurts that we have suffered - hence the importance of forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

David was after God heart to do the right thing for the church. His actions indicate honoring the church to believe this was the right thing to do. Loyalty to God his family and Israel was key point in his walk.

Anonymous said...

Saul was to have nothing left.

Joanssey said...

Couples in counseling should study the life of King David and Michal. How is it possible to go from fierce love to utterly despising each other. David in the beginning did not think he was worthy of her. Michal tied a rope around her waist and helped him to escape. This was not a an easy task. WHAT HAPPENED??? One harsh word let to another. Michal talked about his dancing and David come back with harsh words about her father. This marriage did not have to end this tragically. Our marriages can be saved if we would stop and find out WHAT HAPPENED!

Anonymous said...

David loved Michal, and she loved him. Then he had to leave, and she stayed with saul her father who then pushed her to marry another man while she was married to David. This I believe hurt david deeply, and this is why he would not let her go when he returned for her when he was king.

Anonymous said...

I am always amazed how a writer can have such a comment in regard to David. His first love is God and he can worship in an outward manor that may not have been understood by his wife or servants, of that we can agree. That does not give him the right or the reason to treat Michal the way he did. Yes, he was human and yes he had his flaws, but please do not lift him up as having done the right thing by Michal in the treatment of her as his wife. When will anyone ever hold David accountable through the writings of the scripture for his sin? Sin toward his wife/his soldier/his countrymen/his children.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is always so quick to deduce, speculate, and assume hidden motives for Michal's reaction. What about the plain, obvious reason specifically given by the Holy Spirit? Isn't strange that the Bible makes a specific reference to David's wardrobe? Furthermore, Michal's reproach is not that the king was rejoicing, dancing, or communing with his Lord. She remarks that David uncovered himself- he was flashing the crowd. There's absolutely nothing wrong with worshipping, but "let all things be done decently and in order."

Mike S said...

David's action of dancing and worshipping were indications of his heart of love for God, Michals words were indicative of a negative and critical heart.
God is more concerned about our hearts than our outward appearance,, that is a good lesson for marriage.
Do we have hearts of love for our spouse or is our heart filled with negativity and criticism?

Alvin said...

This blog post has greatly answered my question of what does the conversation between King David and Michal really mean...

My takeaway:

1. God's punishment to Saul extended beyond his generation.
2. Since David's greatest fame was "A man after GOD's own heart" he had GOD on the mind to honor while worshiping and Michal had David's appearance and honor on her mind...perhaps they BOTH are right however GOD looks at the heart and will choose David's response in this particular situation.
3. What if she never said anything to David about his way of dancing to the LORD but stored this disdain in her heart instead, how would GOD deal with her according to her heart?

dealightful23 said...

This article was thought provoking for me as a Christian wife. I am reminded to walk with God with integrity as an individual. I must be who God is calling me to be as a wife, in obedience to my husband, but first be in obedience to my Father. I believe as I continue to do that, my husband will be honored.
Michael felt strongly about her husbands behavior, and may not have surrendered her thoughts and feelings to God for evaluation before confronting him. Perhaps the outcome would have been different had she done this. I don't think we should judge their hearts any more than God did. We should learn what we need to today from this Scripture, and remember His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. We must not use our own logic as the standard, we must conform our logic to His standard...as difficult as that is sometimes. God bless you as you seek Him! :)

dealightful23 said...

This article was thought provoking for me as a Christian wife. I am reminded to walk with God with integrity as an individual. I must be who God is calling me to be as a wife, in obedience to my husband, but first be in obedience to my Father. I believe as I continue to do that, my husband will be honored.
Michael felt strongly about her husbands behavior, and may not have surrendered her thoughts and feelings to God for evaluation before confronting him. Perhaps the outcome would have been different had she done this. I don't think we should judge their hearts any more than God did. We should learn what we need to today from this Scripture, and remember His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. We must not use our own logic as the standard, we must conform our logic to His standard...as difficult as that is sometimes. God bless you as you seek Him! :)

Prodigal Knot said...

David, while on the run from Saul, abandoned his wife, Michal. She had protected him from Saul by feigning that he was sick. Once Saul discovered that he had been tricked, he (not David) declared the marriage annulled and married her off to another man.

When David was old he asked for Michal to be brought to him, which forced her to leave the man she had been married to by her father. apparently he was desperately in love with her, but in any case, She never bore children which implies she was, perhaps, infertile or worse, she was never truly loved. Rather she may have been simply a pawn in David's view. Hard to say, but she definitely got the short end of the deal.