Michal ~ How Love Turned to Hatred


Michal was David’s first wife. In the first mention of her, we see that she loved David. But in the last mention of her, she despised him. What happened to change her opinion of her husband? And what can we learn from Michal? Let’s rediscover what we know about her, then draw some conclusions.

You can read about Michal in the following passages:

1 Samuel 18:17-30; 19:11-17; 25:42-44; 2 Samuel 3:12-16; 6:14-23; 21:1-9; 1 Chronicles 15:25-29

Michal Loves David

We are all familiar with the rivalry between Saul and David, right? Saul was king of Israel, but David had been chosen by God to be his successor. Saul was not the least bit happy about this, and for years he did everything in his power to destroy David. When Saul could not kill David with the javelin, he decided to make him a son-in-law by giving him his eldest daughter Merab as a wife, and then ordering David to fight his battles for him as captain of the guard. In this way, he hoped the Philistines would do his dirty work for him. At the last minute Merab was given to Adriel to be his wife, so again Saul’s plans were thwarted. (Remember the name Adriel, for we will see it again.)

Then Saul discovered that his younger daughter Michal was in love with David. The Bible actually records Saul as saying, “I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him” (I Sam. 18:21). What did he mean by that? Let’s be clear that he did not mean Michal herself would do anything to ensnare David, but that the gaining of her hand in marriage would make Hunger Games look like a walk in the park. Saul sent word to David that he could have Michal for his wife, and that no dowry was required except one hundred foreskins of the Philistines. Saul did not expect David to come back alive from such a mission, but we know he did. In fact, he went the second mile and brought back two hundred foreskins, and he married Michal.

Michal Helps David

One night Saul set some of his soldiers to watch David’s house with orders to kill him as soon as his stepped outside the door the next morning. Somehow Michal found out about it, warned David, helped him escape through the window, then put a statue and some goat’s hair in the bed to make it look like he was lying there “sick.” He got a good day’s head start before they realized he was gone.

Michal Is Taken from David

Much time passed as David hid in the mountains and caves, preserving his life from the insane King Saul and gathering a following of men. During this time he married Abigail and Ahinoam, and we also read that Saul had given Michal to another man, Phalti (or Phaltiel).

Michal Is Restored to David

When Saul died, one of the first things David did was to demand that Michal be brought back to him. So she was taken from her husband Phaltiel, who followed behind weeping all the way, until he was told to turn around and go home. We do not know how Michal felt about this turn of events. Had she been happy with Phaltiel? They did not have children, not that having children is a prerequisite for happiness, but perhaps it is an indication that their union was not really one of husband/wife. After all, Michal was never divorced from David, and so she could not have truly been Phaltiel’s wife. Most likely he was more of a guardian to her during David’s absence, but Saul had set up the arrangement in order to hurt David. It’s obvious that Phatiel loved Michal deeply, but if Michal showed any emotion at leaving him to return to David, we are not given a glimpse of it.

Why did David want her back? I think there were multiple facets to his decision. She was his first wife, and she had loved him. He remembered how she had saved his life, and he wanted to honor her love and commitment to him.. Perhaps he also felt some attraction to her, although the Bible does not say. This too was a part of David’s way to show honor to the family of Saul, by restoring his daughter to the position of queen. (He also brought Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth into the family.) Later kings would have had any relatives of a former king killed, lest they should rise up and lay claim to the throne, but not David. Not only did he let them live, but he let them live with him in the palace, in a place of honor and distinction.

Michal Despises David

When the ark of the covenant returned to Jerusalem safe and sound, David rejoiced and danced in the streets. Michal sat upstairs, looking out through the window. Her heart was filled with contempt for her husband as he danced in the street below with young women all around. This man whom once she had loved with all her heart she now despised.

What turned her avid love to bitter hatred? The truth is, Michal did not love the whole man. She did not understand who David was in his heart. She loved the warrior, the valiant man, the fighter. That’s how she was raised. Her father was a warrior. That’s all she knew. Her father also had little regard for the things of God, which is why God rejected him from being king and chose David to take his place. So when Michal saw David rejoicing over the ark of the covenant, she did not understand and could not enter into his joy. To her it was just a fancy box, with no significance whatsoever. God meant nothing to her. She loved to see David bloody and sweaty from battle. But to see him dancing in the streets, singing and shouting, and praising God? This repulsed her.

Michal Dishonors David

If she had kept her ill opinion to herself, no one would have been the wiser. But no. She met David at the door with a tongue full of sarcasm. No doubt she spoke loudly enough for many to hear, as she openly berated her husband for making a fool of himself in front of the “common people.” God only gives the wife one command with regard to her husband: to respect him. At this critical moment Michal failed, and she suffered the consequences. The Bible says, “She had no child unto the day of her death” (2 Sam. 6:23).


As we just saw, the Bible clearly states that Michal had no child unto the day of her death. However, read 2 Samuel 21:8, “But the king took… the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.” The word translated “brought up for” could suggest giving birth, but it could also suggest both a midwife and a nanny. Remember that Michal’s older sister Merab married Adriel. Bible scholars have been perplexed with this verse, wondering what in the world to do with it. Some translations just go ahead and put Merab’s name in the place of Michal’s, but that suggests that the original writer made a mistake, and God has assured us that His Word is free from errors. I believe the verse means just what it says, that Michal brought up the five sons of Adriel. She very well could have been her sister’s midwife. But I believe it goes beyond that, since this verse gives Michal credit for the boys’ care, not just their birth. Perhaps her sister was an invalid or died while the boys were young, and Michal cared for them as her own. I do not believe for a minute that it was a mistake to put Michal’s name in the verse. The mistake comes in assuming she was the birth mother. She was neither the birth mother nor the stepmother, for she was never married to Adriel. But she very well could have been their foster mother. Is this a critical issue? It is if it causes you to doubt the validity of God’s Word. Don’t go looking for contradictions in Scripture. If something appears wrong, don’t assume that it is wrong, but that your understanding of it is incomplete. Then ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth because if you cannot trust all of God’s Word, then you cannot trust any of it.

John 16:13 Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him.


There is a warning in Michal’s story to us women (and men): a warning to guard our hearts. She fell in love with a good man. Nothing wrong with that. But she loved him for the wrong reason. She loved what he was, but knew nothing about who he was. And when she finally saw who he was before God, she despised him in her heart. Her act of dishonor was wrong and brought about negative consequences, but I believe what God wants us to see here is that the heart attitude is where she really went wrong. The fact that she despised him in her heart is the only part of her story that is repeated in the Bible (2Sa 6:16; 1Ch 15:29). If God says something once, it’s important; but if He says it twice, then we had better listen. Michal’s act of dishonor was merely an outward display of the inner attitude of contempt.

Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Michal could not relate to David on a spiritual level because she did not know God the way he did. David had a personal, intimate relationship with the Lord. He walked with Him and talked with Him. David had many faults, and they are not hidden from us, but he continually repented and returned to God, who continually forgave and restored. Michal could have known that too. When she despised David, she did not only reject him as her husband, but she also rejected his God from being her God. Please, dear reader, do not make the same mistake Michal did. Accept God’s gift of salvation and enter into His joy. Then you will be able to dance in the streets with David, and sing,

Psalm 21:1 The king shall joy in Thy strength, O LORD; and in Thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!

❧          ❧          ❧

Next week: Lot’s Wife

Photo courtesy of estall of Pixabay




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