Michal: A Bitter Pill

dark darkness loneliness mystery

I Samuel 18:17-19:17; II Samuel 3: 13-16; 6:16-23

Michal had every reason for bitterness.  First the princess was given to David as a trophy- a “reward” for killing enough Philistines; and while she seemed to be in agreement, the disrespect toward womenkind is appalling.  That was only the start of her Daddy problems, though.  Soon after her marriage, she chose to lie to her dad to help her husband escape or her father would have killed him.  Her dad’s hobby, then, became not the deer lease, but hunting her husband for years.  In David’s absence, she was traded like a commodity and given to another man.  David finally traded to get her back, but he had collected two other wives along the way.  Can you imagine that reunion?

“Good to see you! Umm…We have some new additions to the team…”  

When Michal was finally “collected” by a messenger, the other husband was weeping and following her to the next city.  We don’t know how Michal felt about returning to David, but she seems to be torn away from someone who truly adored her!

Fast forward: Michal lost her father and brother Jonathan in battle the same day her husband became King, but the emotional battles wouldn’t have ended there.  All her brothers were murdered (without David’s consent) except one, because of their potential threat to the throne.  Yeah, you might have tension, but this makes attending your family reunion look like a cake walk, right? 

Now that we have a little history providing some context, let’s step into this present moment in Michal’s life.

David finally overcame his fear and brought the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem.  Michal looked down from a window and saw her husband leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she “despised him in her heart”.  Was he that bad of a dancer? (I might feel that way if Brian wouldn’t stop doing the Floss.)  Seriously though, let’s look deeper into this order of events.   Michal was not participating in this celebration to the Lord.  She was watching from a lofty location.  Bitterness does that.  It separates a person from those who celebrate.  Think of the older brother in the parable of the lost son.  Not only does it separate, but a bitter person can have great difficulty stomaching someone else’s joy.  

According to Spurgeon, Michal is irritated that David would appear in public without his royal robes (verse 20), but only in priestly garments (the linen ephod).  Then instead of a dignified, solemn procession, David is dancing and leaping with all his might for the Lord.  It seems that image had become everything to her, possibly because she feels this is the only thing she has left.  Popularity, possessions, name-brands, titles and bitterness are empty comforts that can never truly satisfy. What a shame that she didn’t know the being who had created her in his image. Let us cling to to our King and not the temporary comforts of this earthy kingdom.

After a brief argument with the king, Michal’s sad history ends with a declaration that she never had children.  I have heard some preachers say she was punished for her bitterness, however, according to David Guzik, “Michal’s barrenness was not necessarily the result of Divine judgment. Nevertheless, the principle stands: there is often barrenness in the life and ministry of the overly critical.” So while I feel heartache for this wife of David, I do not want to be like her.  Here are a few points I gather from her example.

  • Thanks be to the Lord that we live in a different age in our country, where women have more opportunities and more rights than ever before in history.   Yet I see women living as if they are a trophy, a thing, to be bought and sold.  It might feel good to be treated as a prize, but that glory fades, and trophies end up at best locked behind a cabinet, and at worst gathering dust, given to Goodwill or tossed in the trash.  Instead, if you are unmarried, STAY that way unless God brings a Christ follower who wants to cherish you as a teammate, not a trophy.  


  • I also see women who have also bought into the falsehood that they are only important because of their children (or not as important because of their lack of children).  At times I have allowed my role as mother to become an idol, and then wondered why I felt so empty and lonely as I lost myself.  Children are a blessing, but they cannot increase intrinsic value.  Women are valuable because they are God’s creation. Children do not make us less, and they cannot make us more.


  • Is bitterness ruling a part of your life?  If so, give it to Him.  Bitterness is not a pill meant to be swallowed, as the saying goes.  Jesus was given bitter drink upon the cross, so that we wouldn’t have to suffer the ongoing theft that bitterness devises. Don’t pay interest on a debt that Jesus has already paid!  Reflect on any ways that your life may be barren and joyless because of bitterness, then call out to God for healing.   He is faithful! 

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