Who was Michal in the Bible?

Michal was the younger of Saul's two daughters; she loved David and became his first wife (1 Samuel 14:49; 18:20–27). However, she is most remembered for rebuking David for the way he danced when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).

Michal met David when he served in her father, King Saul's court. First Samuel 18:20 says that she loved David. Regrettably, King Saul was jealous that David had been anointed as the next king, so he sought to kill David. When he realized that his daughter loved David, Saul decided he could have David killed by asking him to fight their enemies, the Philistines, in order to win Michal's hand in marriage (1 Samuel 18:21, 25). Instead of David dying on this quest, God gave David success and he returned with the foreskins of two hundred Philistines, twice the amount Saul had required. David and Michal were soon married, but "Saul was David's enemy continually" (1 Samuel 18:29).

When Michal learned of another of her father's plots to kill David, she warned him, helped him escape out of a window that night, and then lied to Saul's messengers in order to spare David's life (1 Samuel 19:11–18). David escaped to Ramah where he met with the prophet Samuel and the two of them fled to Naioth (1 Samuel 19:18). Unfortunately, living in hiding meant that David was separated from Michal. Saul took the opportunity to marry off Michal to another man, Palti from Gallim (1 Samuel 25:44). David, on his part, also married new wives, including Abigail and Ahinoam, during this time apart.

After Saul died in battle, David returned to Jerusalem to assume the throne and he requested that Michal be returned to him as his wife (2 Samuel 3:13). Michal's husband, Palti, seemed to care about her as he "went with her, weeping after her all the way to Bahurim" (2 Samuel 3:16). But she was returned to David in the palace where she lived as royalty.

A little while later, David recaptured the Ark of the Covenant and brought it into Jerusalem. He stripped off his royal robes "And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod" (2 Samuel 6:14). In this act, David expressed that God was the true king of Israel and that he served in submission to the Lord. "Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart" (2 Samuel 6:16). When David came inside, Michal rebuked him saying that he had dishonored his position by "uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants' female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!" (2 Samuel 6:20). As the daughter of King Saul, Michal had been raised in the palace with instruction on royal decorum and she felt David had disregarded appropriate cultural customs. However, David responded that his position as king was due to God's anointing and not dependent upon his ability to act in a royal manner. He was rightfully worshipping the Lord and he vowed, "I will celebrate before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor" (2 Samuel 6:21–22). This marital falling out seems not to have been repaired as the following verse simply states, "And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death" (2 Samuel 6:23).

Although Michal had little autonomy in her day and was used as a pawn for political marriages, she played a significant role in saving David's life. Her response to her husband's abandon in the presence of the Lord is also a warning for us not to rely on cultural customs to maintain our high reputations, but instead to be willing to risk our own reputation in ways that would glorify the Lord, increasing His reputation instead of our own.

Related Truth:

Who was Abigail in the Bible?

Who was Nabal in the Bible?

Who was Joab in the Bible?

Why do women seem to have a small role in the Bible?

Why is knowing about the various characters in the Bible important?

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Truth about People in the Bible

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