Summary: Michal is most maligned for her criticism of David whne she had very good reasons to be bitter ..
David and Michal
Is it time to denigrate Michal again? There have been numberless messages and even some songs written about how Michal was so critical of the great King David when he worshipped God. She was just a cantankerous old woman who was filled with bitterness and it cost her the opportunity of having children.
No, I think not.
Michal was a daughter of a king and grew up with certain preconceptions which were never fulfilled. She may have expected to be in an arranged, politically expedient marriage, but she would not have expected to be treated as one king’s afterthought and another king’s convenience. This poor woman was mistreated by the two most important men in her life and it is little surprise that she became so bitter and critical of a husband who had no time for her.
We need to start at the beginning. Michal was not David’s first choice as wife. Saul promised him the hand of Merab his eldest daughter. However, Saul gave her to Adriel the Meholathite. But we know one thing about Michal: she loved David. "And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David:" (1 Samuel 18:20a) David was young and dashing a national hero and destined for great things. Michal was enraptured. Her father used his daughter for his own ends and she lived to regret it throughout her life: "..and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 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." (1 Samuel 18:20b-21)
Saul was not a man of honour, nor a man of his word. David had already "earned" the hand of the king’s daughter by slaying Goliath, but the king hoped that David would die in his efforts to win her hand a second time. "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." (1 Samuel 18:25) David was pleased and took up the challenge: "And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law:.. Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.
And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him." (1 Samuel 18:26-28)
Saul’s hatred of David knew no bounds. He tried to kill him, personally, with a javelin. He sent teams of assassins after him, and Michal’s love for David helped him to escape. "Saul also sent messengers unto David’s house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David’s wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain. So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped." (1 Samuel 19:11-12) Her protection of her husband went further as she bought him time by lying to her father. "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. 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?" (1 Samuel 18:13-17a)
This princess was potentially a great woman of God. She had protected the Lord’s anointed and risked her own life in doing so. David owed her a debt which if we search throughout the whole Bible we find he never paid. In fact, although David was on the run and Michal had nowhere to go by her own volition, we would think that he would make some effort to contact her. Instead we find nothing. David was a great warrior and a great worshipper but when it came to being a husband he was a walking disaster area. He found time to build an army of mighty men. He found time to relate to his covenant partner, Jonathan, but when it came to his relationship with his wife it was non-existent.