A biblical king, no matter how good, has some rules that he is supposed to follow. These rules are found in Deuteronomy 17:16-17: a king is not to have too many horses or too many wives, nor he is supposed to collect too much gold and silver. They were probably written after the time of David, and in reaction to David’s son, Solomon, who did all these things.
2 Sam. 3:2–5 records that David had six wives when he was in Hebron. We are later told that he took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem after he had come from Hebron (2 Sam. 5:13-16). Eight wives are mentioned in the Bible, but he undoubtedly had more. Solomon had seven hundred wives of princely rank and three hundred concubines, but we’ll talk about him later.
One of David’s wives was Michal, the daughter of King Saul. Saul demanded that David pay a hefty bride-price for Michal, one that was meant to result in David’s death—look it up in 1 Sam. 18:25—and David paid twice as much as he was asked. By then, Saul was suffering from a mental illness that included paranoia. He tried to kill David, but Michal helped him escape:
The same night, Saul sent messengers to David’s house to guard it, that he might kill him in the morning. David’s wife Michal informed him, “Unless you save yourself tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” Then Michal let David down through a window, and he made his escape in safety. Michal took the household idol and laid it in the bed, putting a net of goat’s hair at its head and covering it with a spread. When Saul sent messengers to arrest David, she said, “He is sick.” (2 Sam. 19:11-14).
Michal is the only woman named in the Scripture who is said to love a man (1 Sam. 18:20), but it seems that David did not return her love. The marriage may have been for him only a smart political move. Later on, Michal, torn between father and husband, grew to despise David. When the ark of covenant was brought to Jerusalem, David came leaping and dancing before the Lord. Michal saw this all through the window. When David returned home, she said, “How the king of Israel has honored himself today, exposing himself to the view of the slave girls of his followers, as a commoner might do!” (2 Sam. 6:20).
Michal is a tragic figure. Scripture tells us: “Saul’s daughter Michal was childless to the day of her death” (2 Sam. 6:23). David would not have wanted Michal to raise up a son of Saul’s line as a successor to the throne. Solomon, the son of Bathsheba, was to follow him as king. Michal remains always “the daughter of Saul.” But surely her story is not unique. Many women have conflicting loyalties within their family, and families are often divided. The story of Michal is worth pondering.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.