1. Introduction and Michal (1 Samuel 18:1-19:17; 2 Samuel 25:44; 3:6-16; 6:1-23)Related Media
Influence means “the power to change or affect someone or something” (Webster’s Dictionary)
With that definition, everyone in this room is an influential person.
“Women of Influence” is a phrase that’s not original to me. Every fall I attend the “All about Influence Conference” at Dallas Seminary. Every woman there, whether speakers, attenders, or those serving; all of them, just like you and me, are women of influence. God has created us, as women, all of us, with purpose and the ability to affect our world for good or bad. You have that influence.
So, let’s look at the women surrounding the life of David, the man after God’s own heart. I have come to care deeply for these women who influenced David’s life and I look forward to meeting each of them; there must be so much more to their stories. Yet, the bible has recorded their names, and glimpses of their lives for a purpose. Our job is to discover that purpose. Why are they included in the Word of God? What can we learn from them?
Three women are David’s wives and one is not a wife, not a concubine but she is invaluable to David. One woman saved his life from certain death. Another saved his career and reputation; one saved the Kingdom and the last woman saved him from pain and loneliness in his latter days. The seemingly little acts of these four women dramatically influenced David and radically changed the world around him. It’s in the seemingly little acts, that we too can change our world.
II. Overview Of The Life Of David (I Sam 18)
Before we look at the women, let’s look at David.
I wonder if you enjoy biblical art like I do? Biblical art takes the story I read in Scripture and makes it real for me. I’m so visual and I remember when David became “real” to me. I was 12 years old when our 6th grade field trip went to New York City. The statue of David by Michelangelo was on loan from Florence, Italy. I was overwhelmed! The story is that in 1501 a large block of uncut marble sat in a dusty cathedral workshop. But Michelangelo saw something in that rock; by 1504 he had taken that rough piece of stone and transformed it into a masterpiece called David. 13 ½ feet tall, this larger-than-life physical size was intended to capture David’s colossal spiritual strength. He is called a “man after God’s own heart”. Just as it took years to chisel away at the rough edges of the marble to smooth the sculptures’ surface to perfection, there were also years of refining, testing, training for the man of God to be God’s King of Israel and our women of influence were part of God’s plan for David.
- In the Bible we first meet David when the Lord sends the prophet Samuel on a mission to find and anoint Saul’s replacement as King of Israel due to Saul’s rebellious heart and sin. In Bethlehem, Samuel meets seven of Jesse’s amazing sons, but not the one God had chosen. He asks “Don’t you have any more sons?” The youngest, red-headed David is brought in from tending the sheep and God says “This is the one” This anointing by Samuel doesn’t mean David becomes king immediately, it means he is designated by God to be next in line.1
- During this time, Israel is at war with the Philistines and David’s older brothers are soldiers in King Saul’s army. When David is sent by his father to check on them, he volunteers to fight Goliath. With God’s strength, he defeats the enemy and his life as a soldier, a warrior begins. Overnight he becomes a superhero and is rewarded by Saul who gives his daughter Michal to David to become his wife. She is our first influential woman that we will study.
- As David becomes more successful, Saul becomes more jealous of him and this hatred forces David to flee and become a fugitive, running away from Saul’s death threats. During those wilderness years, David meets our second woman of influence, Abigail, the wife of Nabal. What a fascinating story, filled with intrigue and suspense.
- Years passed and Saul dies in battle opening up the way for David to become first the King of Judah and then ultimately the King of all Israel, reigning a total of 40 years. When he was established in Jerusalem, known as “the City of David”, when his army is off at war, David spies a beautiful woman named Bathsheba who is our third influential woman. That spying led to a sexual encounter that led to a pregnancy, that led to a murder that led to a cover-up. It’s that cover-up that becomes a breaking point in David’s life. Yet, it is through this tragic event that David truly learns God’s forgiveness and mercy. Ultimately:
“David’s greatness shines in both his ability to take responsibility for his actions and the humility of his admission and the repentance that follows. This is part of the reason that the ultimate redeemer of the Jewish people and the world will descend from David’s line- he will be ‘Messiah son of David’.”2
- And yet, as also true in our lives, the consequences of his sin followed him the rest of his life. David’s family life gets very messy and complicated: There’s incest, murder, rebellion, plagues and political upheavals all the rest of his life. It’s at the end of his life that we meet the fourth woman, Abishag. She is not a wife, not a concubine but a care-giver, an essential care-giver.
1. One of the reasons we need to study these women is so that we may more fully understand holistically the man David, and his life: both personal and professional.
“The David stories alternate between a presentation of the private man and the public figure, so that in the end family affairs and affairs of state are intermingled, each having an effect (influence) upon the other.”3
– Adele Berlin
I had an annual physical recently. While waiting for the doctor, I was in the examining room talking to the nurse who was taking my blood pressure “ How are you doing today?” I asked. She answered “not so good.” Surprised, I asked her “why”? She proceeded to tell me about her teenage son and his troubles, that were her troubles too. Abruptly she stopped and apologized saying “I’m trying to leave my family problems at home, but that’s hard.” Yes, it is hard. In fact, almost impossible, to separate, to compartmentalize all our problems. It was hard for David too.
2. Another reason is that we can learn life lessons from them. We can learn from their successes and their mistakes how to be God’s influential women.
III. Michal (1 Samuel 18:1-19:17; 2 Samuel 25:44; 3:6-16; 6:1-23)
Michal was the first, and in some ways, the most interesting, of David’s wives…she is a full-fledged character with opinions and emotions of her own.4
– Adele Berlin
Michal’s story is a sad one. Like a pale and spindly sapling forever caught under a canopy of larger trees, Michal is emotionally trapped by the men around her: her father, King Saul and her husband, King David. Decisions are made for her as she is handed off from one man to another and trapped by power grabs. She is eventually cast aside, having no children to call her own.5
– Lindsay Hardin Freeman
You will have to decide whether you think Michal’s story is “seemingly” sad or not. Either way she is a vital part of David’s story; she is an important influence in his life. Although we don’t have her entire story, we have two accounts involving Michal and David that turned his life and her life in a different direction. The first story is when she falls in love with David, marries him and protects his life from her father Saul. The next time we see her with David things have dramatically changed in their marriage. Instead of loving and protecting, we find her belittling and ridiculing David; wounding instead of helping. The question begs why? What has happened? How does love turn to hurt?
A. Michal, Saul’s Daughter, Marries And Protects David (1 Sam 18:1-19:17)
Let’s set the context of our story. David has killed Goliath, that’s what everyone is talking about; this young, good-looking guy. Saul is initially impressed with David’s skill so he says David you are going into the army soldier! As David became more and more successful in battle, Saul became more and more jealous, envious of his victories. The better David did the more suspicious and angry Saul felt toward David. “Saul soon uses David for target practice.”6 Given to great mood swings, Saul would get fearful and mad. In those moments he would hurl his spear at David trying to pin him down, to intimidate him, to scare him, ultimately to kill him. Scriptures tell us that Saul down deep understands this conflict he has with David is all about the Kingdom. He is losing his grip on his throne and David is going to replace him. However, Saul is not going to give up without a fight and a plan. His first plan is to offer David his oldest daughter in marriage.
I Samuel 18:17 Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!”
Saul was hoping the Philistines would kill David and that would be the end of it. Not so fast. David modestly declines the offer, saying he and his family were unworthy to be part of the kingly family. We don’t know but perhaps the family was unable to pay the dowry. So, the oldest daughter Merab is given to another man. Michal enters the story
I Samuel 18:20-21 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So, Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.”
This time, Saul gives him a way to pay the bride price: go to battle and bring back 100 Philistine foreskins and you can have my second daughter. This is really a smoke screen. Saul doesn’t want foreskins; he wants David dead. But a deal is a deal. Saul likes this deal thinking David will probably die in battle. David also likes the deal. He likes the idea of being the king’s son-in-law; and we’re sure Michal likes the deal. The scriptures tell us she loves David. In fact, “She is the only woman in the Old Testament of whom it is said that she loved a man”7. The deal gets done. David comes back with proof of not 100 but 200 dead Philistines that he has killed. So, there is a wedding. David and Michal are married, both for the first time. But stop for a minute.
Can’t you imagine how happy she is? It seemed to be what David wanted too.
Most of us have been to a wedding and seen that joy and glow. We attended a wedding recently in New Orleans. The bride was just radiant, and the groom couldn’t keep from smiling. You could see they were so happy to be getting married.
David and Michal are happy too; but Saul is miserable,
I Samuel 18:28-29 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David,29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.
David’s father-in-law was his enemy. You may have had or currently have a difficult father-in-law or mother-in-law, but this is the extreme: to have your father-in-law want to kill you.
It’s evident from the text that Saul was both mentally and emotionally unstable. He was given to fits of rage and remorse. He could turn from the rational to the irrational quickly and there were no ways to gauge what would set him off. David has already been dodging Saul’s spear but as time progresses there is an outright contract on his life and he is in danger. Let’s pick up the story in chapter 19.
We’re in the living room, Saul is playing with his spear, David is relaxing and playing the harp.
I Samuel 19:9-16 But an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.”12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head. When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, “He is ill.”15 Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, “Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him.” 16 But when the men entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats’ hair.
“Quick thinking on Michal’s part saved his life”8
She rescued the husband she loved from certain death. She protected him. She masterminded his escape. We see two parallel truths:
Truth: Love protects and love defends even at personal risk.
I Corinthians 13:4-8a Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, love never fails.
As you look back over your life, can you see where God has used other people to lovingly protect you? Parents, teachers, friends? Have we loved well those that God has put in our lives? Have we protected and defended them? Michal lovingly protected David.
Truth: Loving others well cooperates with God’s eternal purposes.
In this story God used Michal to save His anointed future King David. I wonder was she aware, did she believe at this time that David would be the next King? We don’t know at this point. But we do know God was using her to accomplish His plans. This little rescue, saved the life of the future King of all Israel. This little escape saved the lineage of the Messiah. This little plan of Michal’s was used of God for eternal purposes. I’m just amazed aren’t you that God wants to use us too and our little lives for Kingdom purposes.
Psalm 139 tells us that we have been uniquely created as human beings. Ephesians 2:10 says we have been uniquely re-created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us. Good works that have eternal purposes, just like Michal.
Thinking of your own life, in what ways do you see God using you for His purposes? Where do you see yourself loving others in such a way that affects them, has influence in their lives? Maybe he’s called you to love someone who’s unlovely or unloving? Last week during our small group time as we were going over a selected passage and I asked the question ‘What makes us unique as Christians from the rest of the world?’ Immediately, one in the group said “Christians love their enemies.” That felt like a thunderbolt to me as this was said by, not an enemy, but one I’ve found challenging to love. I sensed God was saying to me: “ He is right and you need to really love this person. Love with my love.” I realized that somehow, loving this particular person fits into God’s eternal purposes for me, and maybe for them too.
Before we leave this story, to get some insight into David’s thinking, we need to look at Psalm 59. Looking back over that night, the night that Saul wanted to kill him, David writes:
Psalm 59:1-4 Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
2 Deliver me from evildoers
and save me from those who are after my blood.
3 See how they lie in wait for me!
Fierce men conspire against me
for no offense or sin of mine, Lord.
4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
Arise to help me; look on my plight!
David cried “Oh God, save me, save my life.” God lovingly did save him and God used Michal to deliver David from certain death.
The story continues as David flees and escapes into the wilderness, Michal does not see him again for many years. David is a fugitive, running for his life, until Saul is killed in battle which results in a split Nation in crisis. David is made King of Judah for 7 years while Michal’s brother, Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth is King in Israel. Ish-bosheth has a falling out with his army general Abner after which Abner then switches sides, offering his allegiance and his army to join with David. David accepts, but on one condition.
2 Samuel 3:13-14 “Good,” said David. “I will make an agreement with you. But I demand one thing of you: Do not come into my presence unless you bring Michal daughter of Saul when you come to see me.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.”
Why does he want her back? It’s possible that David may have genuinely loved Michal. We know she had previously been in love with him. (I Samuel 18:20). Or perhaps it was a strategic political move. David also expressed that he had a prior claim to Michal. He had paid the bride-price, and she was still his wife when angry Saul gave her to Paltiel. But beyond all that, if David was seen as Saul’s son-in-law once again, David could claim to be legitimate successor to Saul’s throne.”9
So, during the years David was fleeing King Saul, Michal had been given to another man. She had been with him for at least 10-15 years as his wife when David demanded her to be returned to him. What had happened to her in those 10-15 years? Was she happy with him? Did she miss David? We don’t know, but we do her husband Paltiel deeply loved her and was devastated when she was taken from him.
2 Samuel 3:16 So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. 16 Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So, he went back.
Her loving husband was sent home crying; he was left behind weeping. David, on the other hand, at this time, had 6 other wives. ( See 2 Sam 3:2-5 chart in the handout).
Stop again for just a moment. I wonder what Michal was feeling when she said goodbye to her husband Paltiel? I wonder if she was crying with him? And what her thoughts were when she was brought into David’s household, seeing the 6 other wives and their children? How would you have felt?
B. Michal, David’s Wife, Ridicules David (II Sam 6:1-23)
After Michal’s brother Ish-bosheth is assassinated (II Samuel 4:6), David, who is 33 years old, becomes King over all Israel and captures Jerusalem for his capital city. His heart yearns to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. After the first attempt failed, David tries again and this time the ark is successfully brought to his city. David is so happy and so excited that finally the ark, the ark of Moses, the representation of God’s presence to His chosen people, will be with him in the city. Can you picture the scene; the ark is being brought up the hill, in the middle of the street, the crowds are following, singing, dancing, tambourines are playing. David has taken off his royal robes so he too can dance and skip and sing with the crowd. He has on the linen garment of a priest and he’s out front right behind the ark, leading the people in worship and singing and dancing. Scripture tells us in the procession there were hundreds of priests, musicians with harps, cymbals, lyres, singers, trumpets, elders of Israel.
I Chronicles 15:3 David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to the place he had prepared for it.
Think parade, think big parade, think of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
All Israel was there, celebrating with David, except Michal. She is not part of the celebration; she is watching from a window; watching with disgust.
II Sam 6:16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
David had brought the ark into the city and placed it in a special made tent, then offered sacrifices praising God. This was a big party. David ended with a godly blessing for all the people, sent them away with take home boxes of more food. What an incredibly happy time for him, a high point in his life, feeling God’s pleasure and the people’s happiness. His next move is to go home and bless his household. Let me read to you some different versions of this passage.
II Sam 6:20 “How glorious the king of Israel looked today! He exposed himself to the girls along the street like a common pervert!” (Living Bible)
“…a Burlesque street dancer” (Message)
I can’t imagine how painful her words felt to him at this moment. They would have surely pierced my heart. Listen to David’s response:
II Samuel 6:21-22 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
Why was she so upset over his clothes? She accused him of being improperly dressed in front of the girls. What was wrong with his clothes? Nothing really, he was covered, in a linen ephod, but he was not in his kingly robes and he was dancing in the streets. She seems to be more concerned that he wasn’t acting like a King; he wasn’t acting like her father.
“Michal apparently did not understand David’s reasons for bringing the ark into Jerusalem. She seems to have regarded kingship in Israel as her father had. He had believed the human king was the ultimate authority and that everyone should honor him. By referring to Michal as “the daughter of Saul” (v. 16) the writer linked her attitude with her father’s.
“Her idea seems to have been that the king should avoid mixing with the people, and be aloof and inaccessible. As it was, she despised him for the very qualities that made him great, namely, devotion to the Lord and spontaneity in worship.””10
Michal missed it, missed the celebration, missed the worship, missed the blessing because she seemed to be more concerned about “what other people might think?” Her remarks had to deflate David’s joy, collapse his enthusiasm. She hurt him with her words.
This one sentence, verse 20, drips with sarcasm, ridicule and criticism. Her words were meant to shame him.
Truth: Our words have the power to help or harm.
Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword
But the tongue of the wise brings healing
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death
And those who love it will eat its fruit
Michal had reckless words to David; words that pierced him like a sword. Her words revealed she despised David. (v. 16) “Despised means to regard with contempt, distaste, disgust, or disdain, scorn, loathe.” (Webster’s Dictionary). We know how we can destroy others with our words, we know how other people’s words have cut our hearts too.
James 3:1-10 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
My tongue. I grew up in a Christian home where I felt loved and would always be taken care of, but at times the climate was critical and judgmental of others. What I interpreted that to mean for me was “being good really meant you should be perfect. “Then there would be no criticism. Just do everything right and you won’t get criticized. So, I came into a marriage with the thinking I could say anything that was true, or honest, or “right” even if it was harsh and critical. I didn’t see that my words were unkind or cruel. I’m not blaming my parents, or their parents, that was just the way I was. So, my patient, exasperated at times, husband would often say “Do you hear what you just said?” “Are you listening to your words?” Which would most times make me mad and then I would shut down and quit talking to him, you know that silent treatment! But God used him and his words to make me look at my words. I grew sick of the way I would use words to hurt him and others. Today, most of the time, I stop before I use those “reckless words.” I depend daily on the Holy Spirit to help me with my words and I’ve learned you can’t be perfect, so just let it go. I know I am very capable of still using words that pierce like a sword. For those times, you and I have forgiveness.
How about you? If someone overheard your words would they find them to be reckless? Hurtful? Critical? Do you speak differently to your family than you do at work? Or at church?
Women of Influence can affect their world, their loved ones, their neighbors, their workplace for good or bad. We’ve got to remember people are impacted by our words. Let’s challenge each other to intentionally choose to speak truth in love, kind words, gentle words, encouraging words, words that build up and not tear down.
Michal’s life is a contrast between loving someone so much that you risked your life to protect them and then later in life despising them so much you try to destroy them with your critical words.
When they were young, she saved his life from certain death. But then, later, her harsh words, flowing from a hard heart could not be taken back. Last thing we know about her, a tragic statement for her, living in her times.
2 Samuel 6:23 And Michal, the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
Let’s remember how we need to not only start well, but also finish well for the Kingdom. I want that for my life, don’t you?
1 “David: The Shepherd and The Warrior”, SimpleToRemember.com; Judaism Online.
2 “David The King,’ SimpleToRemember.com; Judaism Online.
3 Adele Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative (Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 1994) 33
4 Berlin, 24.
5 Lindsay Hardin Freeman, Bible Women (Forward Movement, 2014) 186.
6 Freeman, 186.
7 Larry R. Helyer, “Hero and Heroine Narratives in the Old Testament” (Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Vol. SBJT 02:3, Fall 1998).
8 Freeman, 187.
9 The Quest Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House 1994) 404.
10 Dr. Thomas Constable, “Constable’s Notes,” NET Bible Study Suite www.NetBible.org.
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