If we could interview Michal-the daughter of Saul and first wife of David-what might she say about her crazy, complicated life?
We could have to ask about her experience of being “a royal.” the youngest of King Saul’s five children (read 1 Sam 14:49). No doubt the could regulate us with jaw-dropping stories of wealth and privilege.
We would inquire about the day she, like everyone else in Israel, became fixated on the big story coming out of the Elah Valley. There, a handsome young shepherd, to everyone’s astonishment, had killed and beheaded the Philistine giant Goliath (read 1 Sam 17). In a flash, David was a household name. Even as Michal’s father was making the kid from Bethlehem a commander in his elite special forces unit, her big brother Jonathan was declaring the youthful giant killer his closest friend!
Surely Michal could reminisce about what it was like to join swooning females from all over Israel in singing about David’s exploits (read 1 Sam 18:6-9). Next she’d tell us about how she held her breath the day her father tried to arrange a marriage between the heartthrob David and her big sister Merab (and the immense relief she felt when David declined.)
There are so many other questions we would ask: Was David just a schoolgirl crush, or was he the great love of Michal’s life? Did she realize her dad was merely trying to eliminate to potential rival when he offered David her hand in marriage (setting the dowry at 100 dead Philistines)? How special did she feel when she learned that David rushed out and killed twice that number of enemy troops?
We would inquire about what it was like for Michal to watch her father’s jealousy of her new husband’s popularity degenerate into suspicious paranoia, then into a murderous rage. “Tell us about the night you helped David escape from your father’s henchmen,” we would say (read 1 Sam 19:11-17).
The Bible doesn’t say much about Michal’s next few years, focusing instead on David’s life as a fugitive for a decade or more. What was that like for Michal, watching her own father put a bounty on her husband’s head? How did she deal with the dysfunction of it all, the separation and uncertainty? In effect, she became the widow of a living husband. How does one grieve such a thing?
And then the shock of being given by her father to anther man, “Palti son of Laish, who was from Gallim” (1 Sam 25:44). Did Michal see that coming? Did she have any say in it? What was that marriage like? What was he like? Did Michal love him? (He sure seemed crazy about her.)
Maybe if it weren’t too painful, Michal would speak about the wartime deaths of her father and brothers (read 1 Sam 31). Perhaps we could get her to open up about the bizarre experience of being reclaimed by David after all those years apart, about the terrible pain of having to watch and listen to Palti weeping bitterly, calling her name as she walked out of his life.
As awkward as it would be, we’d have to bring up the famous incident when the ark of the covenant was being returned to Jerusalem. David was positively euphoric-so much so he began to dance wildly and unashamedly before the Lord. The prophet Samuel records, however, that as Michal watched David in those moments, “she despised him in her heart” (2 Sam 6:14-23). Why such contempt, such scorn? When did such strong feelings come from?
Finally, would we be right in assuming that Michal’s emotion in that moment was about much, much more than that moment.
2 Samuel 6:16 – “As the ark of the LORD was entering the city of David, Saul’s daughter Michal looked down from the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart.”