is a Fragile Trust : David & Michal
1 Samuel 16 & 2 Samuel 3-6
If you could have a one to one with someone in history
who would it be with? I have found the one to one mobile phone adverts some of
the most creative and insightful on TV. Observing encounters with famous people
from an earlier generation is something we can learn from. We tend to read history
like this story of David and Michal in the flat - two dimensional. Its easy to
forget that these were real people just like you and I, with real emotions, real
hopes and aspirations for their marriage. As I was thinking about their relationship
the thought occurred to me - what if - what if for just 20 minutes we could become
contemporaries with King David and Princess Michal, what would it be like? What
if we could meet?
What if they asked us for advice on their marriage,
what would you say? What would they say about our rather casual approach to marriage
and divorce? What questions would you ask them? What questions might they ask
us? What advice would you give them? What difference could it have made to their
marriage and future? If David had not run away from his father in law, would Michal
have been forced to remarry? If Michal had fled with David would David have taken
other wives? Would they have spent seven years apart? Would Michal have remained
childless? Would David have been tempted by Bathsheba? Would he have plotted to
murder her husband Uriah? Would their reunion have been such an unhappy occasion?
We don't know. We do know God's word is here to instruct
us. We have God's word on relationships. We can therefore learn from every encounter,
from every relationship and judge it by the makers instructions. We do know that
like David and Michal we have choices that affect our futures. Although we may
not be able to change our circumstances, any more than they could, we can change
how we respond to our circumstances.
So lets imagine for a short while having a one to one with David and Michal. Lets
imagine they are here tonight, with their best years ahead of them, as a young
couple experiencing the seven year itch. What would you recommend we do first?
1. Clarify the Present - what
do they wish to achieve?
The love story of David and Michal unfolds a lot
like a Shakespearean tragedy. A scheming king, her love-struck daughter and the
handsome object of her affection, all travel toward an inevitable, painful collision.
While David's ascent to the throne is at the centre of this drama, the love story
belongs to Michal. How amazing that, in the midst of its record of kings and wars,
the Bible slows down to tell us in piercing detail about a young princess whose
marriage seemed doomed before it began. Her story begins, "Now Saul's daughter
Michal was in love with David...". It ends later with the sad words, "She despised
him in her heart." Lets explore what happened in between. David the boy hero has
recently spent seven years in exile. Remaining loyal to his King and father-in-law
Saul, David has been a fugitive, hunted down by the State, separated from his
wife. On the death of Saul and his closest friend and brother in law, Jonathan,
David is declared King of Israel. He has seen his wife Michal given to another
man, and while in exile David has taken six other wives and has had many children.
Michal was a princess, the daughter of King Saul. She has gone from being at the
centre of Jewish culture.
From the dream princess of every little Jewish girl
to being ostracised and marginalised as her father became unpopular and replaced.
David the new king & Michal his first wife meet again. They are reunited but
so much has happened in the last seven years, can their marriage survive? Its
good to clarify the present objectively and ask what they want to achieve? Lets
assume they don't want to give up. Lets assume, they want to learn how to improve
their marriage. They are keen to learn from their past and from your experience.
Lets imagine like us, they want to work at their marriage. They don't want to
give up. What should we explore next with them?
2. Affirm the good in their relationship
What can we say to encourage them about their relationship?
2.1 David's bravery and faithfulness
Of David we can affirm his loyalty to Michal's family.
He refused to harm Michal's father and forms a close friendship with her brother
Jonathan. (1 Samuel 20:15-17). He calls Saul 'my father' (1 Samuel 24:11). He
shows bravery to win her as his bride (1 Samuel 16). On hearing of Saul and Jonathan's
death David weeps and laments in great sorrow. (2 Samuel 1:17-27). When he is
able to return to Jerusalem, David wants to bless his family and see Michal again
(2 Samuel 3:13; 6:19-20). David was a person of faith - he feared God more than
his own safety - he refused to kill his enemy. He trusted
in God and gave thanks to God for his deliverance. He
worshipped God openly and unashamedly (2 Samuel 6:21). David's
bravery and faithfulness. What can we say to Michal?
2.2 Michal's love and protection
Twice we are told Michal loved before and after
she marries David (1 Samuel 18:20, 28). Michal is torn between the rivalry between
her father and her husband. Forced to choose, when her husbands life was threatened
by her father she chooses to protect David and defy her father. As great personal
risk she warns David, helps him to escape and covers up for him (1 Samuel 19:11-18).
Despite the stress of a very public, high profile marriage and tension within
their extended family, there is much evidence of love and affection in their early
married life. We can affirm much that is good about their relationship. Affirm
what they did right. What should we do next? Examine where they went wrong.
3. Acknowledge what they could
have done differently
Instead of apportioning blame, lets use the benefit
of hindsight and invite David and Michal to consider what they could have done
differently. To begin with there is the recognition that neither had any influence
over Saul's mental illness, his jealousy or bitterness. What would we ask of David
to help him appraise his own actions? You knowingly married into a very special
family. You knew of Saul's personality and his power. Although David was reluctant
to accept Saul's invitation to become a son in law, there were benefits such as
David's relationship with Jonathan.
But there was also Saul's absolute power to manipulate and murder. Did David take
his new status for granted? Did David become a little like his father in law when
he abused his position to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba and conspire to
have Uriah's murdered. He was not the first or last to abuse his political power
to satisfy his lusts. I would also want to ask David about those seven years in
exile. How hard did he try and contact Michal. Did he
miss her? Did he try and see her? Write her letters?
Find ways to show he still loved her? Why did he take not just one but six other
wives? Did he use Saul's actions as an excuse? Saul had given Michal to another
man. Did that justify David's polygamy? Deuternomony 17:17 specifically warned
against a king taking additional wives. God's pattern for marriage in Genesis
was very clear. If David was a man of faith why did he not fear God and obey his
word? And when they finally met again as he entered Jerusalem, was David as patient
and gracious and understanding of what his wife had gone through before he rebuked
her and justified his actions? Was he as sensitive and understanding of her needs
as he could have been?
And what of Michal? What would we wish to ask her? We would empathise with her
situation. Having helped the man she loved escape, having chosen to protect him
against the wishes of her father, having had no choice but found herself given
to another man, how long had it been before she gave up hope of seeing her first
love again? At what point in those seven years, as she heard of David's latest
wife or child had she begun to give up hope. During that creeping separation,
when did she begin to regret marrying him? When did she begin to despise him?
When David arrived in Jerusalem, dancing nearly naked it was just too much for
Michal. She saw the way the slave girls looked at David and she was jealous. Was
it a right jealousy of a wife protective of their relationship? Was her outburst,
possibly in public the pent up emotions of seven long years of separation? Did
she regret telling him how she felt? I would want to ask them both together, did
they blame each other or did they accept responsibility for what happened? Having
invited them to affirm the positive in their relationship, affirming the love
their partner had shown, having explored where they could have done things differently,
we would want to invite them now to think about their future. Was their marriage
over? Could they start again?
4. What would enhance and deepen
What would you suggest they work on? Here are five
simple observations that take a life time to work through.
4.1 Nurture a Forgiving Spirit
Beginning again in any relationship begins with
forgiveness. Forgiveness is not deciding to become a
doormat. Its not magical or instant. It would take time for David and Michal to
build trust again, but they could start. What ever it was that led to Michal's
bitterness and resentment needed admitting, sharing, forgiving and cleansing.
Maybe you needs to ask forgiveness of your partner. Maybe you need to assure your
partner that they are forgiven. If so, do it tonight.
4.2 Develop a Forgetful Memory
Forgiveness feels pain but it does not hoard it.
It allows tomorrow to break free of yesterday. Don't dwell on the past. If its
forgiven it needs to be forgotten. Don't dredge up history. Develop a forgetful
memory. Choose to forget. Superimpose new positive images on old painful memories.
4.3 Accept what you cannot Change
Change is a good thing. We all want our partners
to change in some way. But the trouble comes when we want our partner to become
someone they cannot be. Michal could never have back the man she married. He had
children by other women, he was now the King. And Michal had changed also. All
love relationships can endure and thrive in spite of scheming in laws, long separations
and the death of loved ones if we learn to love our partners they way they are.
Husbands and wives can learn that the real enemy of a marriage doesn't lie outside
of us, but within our own choices and attitudes. Accept what you cannot change
and work on the rest.
4.4 Learn to Communicate with
Discover how your partner wishes you to communicate.
Don't assume they know. They will need telling, often. Its not so much the words
we use but the tone of our voice that reveals our intention. Michal's words to
David were biting and sarcastic. His reply hints at self justification. Neither
were seeking to build up their partner. To communicate effectively you need to
create space and time. Guard your time together. Listen with your eyes. Take walks
together. Parsons says, "Lose some arguments, husbands give your partner flowers
when its not their birthday or your anniversary. Have a television free evening."
Agatha Christie once said, "An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can
have. The older she gets the more interested he is in her."
to Love Unconditionally
Our NT reading reminds us that God is the source of love
and that it is his love for us that inspires us to love others in the same way.
David and Michal could only wonder at God's purposes revealed imperfectly in
the Old Testament. God would indeed inspire David to write about the coming
Saviour. Psalm 2 and Psalm 22 are good examples. Imagine David and Michal coming
to realise that God so loved the world that he sent Jesus to be our Saviour.
Imagine them coming to grasp God's unconditional love, his revolutionary forgiveness.
Imagine the possibility that Michal has forgiven her tortured, abusive father.
She sees how, partly through her own extreme sacrifice, God has protected and
exalted her husband David - and through him, her entire nation. And when she
looked down at her king dancing in the streets, she remembers not their separation
and her humiliation but sees the young man who first brought her music and laughter
in a lonely palace long ago. Yes, love is a fragile trust. But with God's help,
we can guard our hearts against bitterness and harness and reach instead for
faith, courage and forgiveness. This kind of love will not fail. Because this
kind of love is eternal. Because this kind of love is supernatural. Because
God wants to have a one to one with you and your partner and transform you both
by his love.
Lets pray for our own marriages, or if we are singly, for those we care about.
Dear Father, let my marriage begin again, for better for worse, for richer for
poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do
part. Let all of the old hurts and sorrows be put into your hands, so that from
this moment, our marriage can be cleansed, renewed and strong. Father, we ask
that you would give us forgiving spirit, a forgetful memory, to accept what
we cannot change, to learn to communicate effectively and to choose to love
unconditionally so that we might become the kind of husband and wife that you
have called us to be. In Jesus name. Amen.
With grateful thanks to Rob Parson's
'60 minute marriage' and David & Heather Kopp, 'Love Stories told by God'