Bitter Shut Down



Last week I blogged about King David’s persistence in worshiping God even at the bitter resistance of his wife Michal. It is hard to continue the work your called to do when others think it is foolishness –especially when that someone who despises you is close to you.

This week I’d like to look a little deeper into Michal’s attitude.

On first glance it seems that this woman was simply critical and rude. You would think that she should understand the importance of supporting anything the king did, especially since she was the daughter of the previous king! National festivals like the one David was throwing as he brought in the ark of God to his city was not something out of line with what she grew up with, yet she didn’t participate in the celebration like the rest of the kingdom did. She watched from a window.

While I am encouraged by David’s example of respectfully speaking up for himself, correcting the false judgment and not allowing the discouragement to stop him, I am also broken over my new understanding of this woman who had been his first wife. Looking back at their history as a couple, I wonder how much of the bitterness she showed him the day of the parade might have been old hurts finally released.

Michal first began to fall in love with David as she watched him minister to her dad, King Saul, when he was going crazy. Surely the beautiful relationship her brother, Jonathan, had with this handsome shepherd boy created in her a longing for David as well. But it was her sister that was promised to the giant-slayer first. As a second choice, Saul gave Michal to David with the intent of making his life miserable; apparently he thought his daughter would be a snare to him. (1 Sam 18:17-27)

Knowing that only God’s approval will fill the massive void left in a child’s heart when she cannot please her daddy, I wonder how much bitterness was already stirring in Michal?

It doesn’t appear that she was much of a “snare to him” in their first years together since her love for her new husband (and David’s growing success) enraged Saul’s jealousy more and he “became David’s enemy continually” (vs 28). Later (19:11-17) Michal deceives her dad and saves her husband’s life, by helping him escape. Which leaves her without her man for years. During that time, Michal is given to another man (25:44) and David marries six more women.

It is hard to imagine what kind of emotions go through a woman’s heart in a culture of polygamy, but I can only imagine that the anger and jealousy any victim of unfaithfulness experiences was only strengthened by the need to suppress them. We just want to be loved, don’t we? Our search for significance is something that cannot be squelched because God put it in us. We were made for commitment and temporary love does not satisfy what was meant to be life-long. David’s love for Michal did remain… or at least that’s what I want to believe; and I would bet that she was hoping the same thing when suddenly he wanted her back.

David had agreed to a covenant with Abner under the condition that he brought Michal back to him (2 Sam 3:13). What a soap opera! This poor woman finally has her husband wanting her back, but he has other wives and she has a new husband who obviously loves her deeply, because he followed behind her weeping the whole way until he was told to leave. Ugh, talk about heart wrenching! Did Michal have any say in the matter? I wonder what she would have chosen if she did?

When she reached David he threw a party… for Abner and his men. (What was she? Chopped liver?)Two chapters later is when the bitterness shows up. There’s another party going on and she’s in the palace stewing.

Good for David: he was now king, the people loved him, his many wives loved him, God loved him, the ark has been brought into the city named after him, but his first love was feeling left out. I call it shut down. We do that, don’t we? When I do it everything inside me hates it. I want to step out of my pity party and be part of what is going on around me, but it can be completely paralyzing. It’s still wrong. The consequence of Michal’s bitterness was infertility; so is ours. When we shut down no new life comes from us, and the party goes on without us.

God, help us to deal with our emotions as they arise, so that they do not build up and take control of us. Thank you, Lord that you care deeply for all that we feel and we can trust you to carry our burdens with us, for us. Thank you that you are faithful and true to us even if others are not, and you love us no matter how much of a snare we may become to those around us. Help us to see our own faults more than we see theirs. God, help us to have mercy on ourselves and on others as you do on us. Most of all, Lord keep us from bitterness that we may bring forth life around us and not discouragement. 


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