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David's First Wife

INTRODUCTION: After David had surprised many by killing Goliath, King Saul allowed him to be in command of soldiers against the Philistines. David led the soldiers to a series of decisive victories, and "all Israel and Judah loved David." This began the fear and hatred that Saul had for David, and his first attempt to kill him failed. Then Saul offered his elder daughter Merab to David as a wife, but David declined, and she was given in marriage to another. Later, Saul offered his younger daughter Michal. David accepted the bride's price set by Saul, and delivered it before Michal became his wife. Saul had ulterior motives in these plans, and when they failed, he sent men to David's house to kill him. David had to leave Michal during the night and escape to save his life.

NOTE: All scripture is from the 1833 Webster bible.


1 Samuel 18 "1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. 3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that [was] upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. 5 And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, [and] behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants. 6 And it came to pass as they came, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. 7 And the women answered [one another] as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. 8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; and [what] can he have more but the kingdom? 9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. 10 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and [there was] a javelin in Saul's hand. 11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall. And David escaped from his presence twice. 12 And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and had departed from Saul. 13 Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. 14 And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD [was] with him. 15 Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them."

COMMENTS: Jonathan was Saul's eldest son, and the likely heir to be king after his father. But he and David became so closely knit together in friendship that they made a covenant to honor each other. Jonathan symbolically showed his willingness to see David become the next king by giving David his robe, his warrior's tunic and sash, and his sword and bow. King Saul sent David out to battle and when he returned from great victory, the songs of the women of Israel praising David made Saul very angry because they credited David with ten thousands, and Saul with only thousands. Saul concluded that there was little more for David to have than the kingdom itself, so Saul kept his eye on David continually.

The very next day Saul was in his house and David was playing and instrument to calm Saul's spirit as he had done in previous times. Saul decided to try to kill David with the javelin he had in his hand, but David escaped twice from the attempt. Saul knew he had lost the favor of the LORD, and he was afraid of David because he knew the LORD was with him. So, Saul made David a captain over a thousand men and sent him out against the Philistines. When Saul observed how wisely David handled himself, he was afraid of him, but all Israel and Judah loved David.


1 Samuel 18 "17 And Saul said to David, Behold, my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee for a wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD'S battles. For Saul said, Let not my hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him. 18 And David said to Saul, Who [am] I? and what [is] my life, [or] my father's family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king? 19 But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul's daughter should have been given to David, that she was given to Adriel the Meholathite to wife. 20 And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 21 And Saul said, I will give her to him, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law, in [the one of] the two."

COMMENTS: Saul wanted David to die in battle so he would no longer be a challenge to become king instead of Saul, for Saul was jealous and afraid of David. When David declined to marry Saul's daughter Merab, he expressed that he was not worthy to become the king's son-in-law. But he did in fact deserve to receive the reward that had been set for the man who would kill Goliath. , and he knew about that provision. 1 Samuel 17 "24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were exceedingly afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that hath come up? surely to defy Israel hath he come: and it shall be, [that] the man who shall kill him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel. 26 And David spoke to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who [is] this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? 27 And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him."

Since David had declined to marry Merab, Saul pursued a second opportunity to give David a wife when he learned that Michal loved David. He said to himself that she would be a "snare" to him. The text does not explain how Michal would entangle or trap David, but Saul continued to hope that David would be killed in battle with the Philistines.


1 Samuel 18 "22 And Saul commanded his servants, [saying], Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king's son-in-law. 23 And Saul's servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you [a] light [thing] to be a king's son-in-law, seeing that I [am] a poor man, and lightly esteemed? 24 And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spoke David. 25 And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dower, but a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. 26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son-in-law: and the days had not expired."

COMMENTS: Saul sent servants to David to entice him to take Michal as a wife, but David still expressed that his status was not worthy to become the king's son-in-law. When this was reported to Saul, he sent them back to David with the condition of killing one hundred Philistines and presenting their foreskins as proof that he had obtained the prescribed dowry. Saul was hopeful that David would die in the attempt, but David was delighted with this proposal and he prepared to obtain the dowry.


1 Samuel 18 "27 Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full number to the king, that he might be the king's son-in-law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter for a wife. 28 And Saul saw and knew that the LORD [was] with David, and [that] Michal, Saul's daughter, loved him. 29 And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually. 30 Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass after they went forth, [that] David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much esteemed."

COMMENTS: David led his men successfully in killing two hundred Philistines, which was twice the designated number of foreskins from those uncircumcised enemies of Israel. All two hundred of the foreskins were presented to King Saul, and he gave his daughter Michal to David as a wife. With this outcome, Saul knew that the LORD was with David, and it further troubled him that Michal loved him. These things brought Saul to be even more afraid of David, which made him David's enemy continually. David became much esteemed in Israel, but not in the eyes of King Saul.


1 Samuel 19 "1 And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David. 2 But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David: and Jonathan told David, saying, Saul my father seeketh to kill thee: now, therefore, I pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning, and abide in a secret [place], and hide thyself: 3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where thou [art], and I will commune with my father of thee; and what I see, that I will tell thee. 4 And Jonathan spoke good of David to Saul his father, and said to him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works [have been] toward thee very good: 5 For he put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest [it], and didst rejoice: Why then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause? 6 And Saul hearkened to the voice of Jonathan: and Saul swore, [As] the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain. 7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan showed him all those things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past. 8 And there was war again: and David went out, and fought with the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they fled from him. 9 And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with [his] hand. 10 And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away from Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night."

COMMENTS: When Saul told his son Jonathan and the servants that they should kill David, Jonathan warned David to stay in a safe place until morning. Jonathan came to David's defense and convinced his father that David was a loyal subject of the king, and had even risked his life to win victories for Israel. Saul then gave an oath that as sure as the LORD lives, David would not be killed. So Jonathan brought David back to King Saul and he was with the king as in times past. David again went out and won a great victory against the Philistines, and at some point after that, he was playing his instrument before Saul to calm his disturbed nature. Once again Saul tried to use his javelin to kill David, but David escaped that night to his own house.


1 Samuel 19 "11 Saul also sent messengers to David's house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal, David's wife, told him, saying, If thou dost not save thy life to-night, to-morrow thou wilt be slain. 12 So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped. 13 And Michal took an image, and laid [it] in the bed, and put a pillow of goat's [hair] for his bolster, and covered [it] with a cloth. 14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He [is] sick. 15 And Saul sent the messengers [again] to see David, saying, Bring him to me in the bed, that I may slay him. 16 And when the messengers had come in, behold, [there was] an image in the bed, with a pillow of goat's [hair] for his bolster. 17 And Saul said to Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away my enemy, that he has escaped? And Michal answered Saul, He said to me, Let me go; why should I kill thee? 18 So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth."

COMMENTS: Saul was determined to have David killed, so he sent some men to David's house to watch overnight, and to kill him in the morning. The text does not reveal how Michal knew, but she warned David that if he did not escape during the night, he would be killed in the morning. So Michal let David down through a window and he made his escape. Then apparently as a delaying tactic, Michal took an idol and laid it in the bed, using goat's hair on the head, and placed a cover over the form. When the men proceeded to take David, Michal told them he was sick. When they told Saul, he directed them to bring David to him in a bed, and he would kill David himself.

When the men entered the house they found the idol in the bed, and Michal defended herself to her father by telling him that David threatened to kill her if she did not help him to escape. What an interesting bit of information to find that Michal had an idol in the house of her husband, and it was apparently large enough that she could use it to have the appearance of a man under a blanket. The fact that Michal would want to keep an idol in her house may be some indication of why Saul thought she could be a "snare" to David, who had the blessing of the LORD. We don't know whether David had known there was an idol in the house, which Michal used for her deception after David had made his escape through the window. David went to Ramah and told Samuel of all the things that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth. David remained separated from Michal for quite a few years.


Lord, as I reviewed the events that led up to the point of Michal becoming David's first wife, I was reminded of how members in one family can have such diversity in their response to knowledge of the true and living God. King Saul had various opportunities to submit to your plans for him and for the people of Israel, but he continually tried to set his own ways to hold on to what you had given to him. May I be satisfied with the ways you provide for my needs, and be open to the ways you want me to serve my Savior.

Lord, guide me to have an authentic love for those to whom you have given abundant talents to serve others, and give me the same spirit that was demonstrated in Jonathan so I will avoid any reason to be jealous of other believers. David maintained his respect for the LORD's anointed king even though that man became such an enemy to him. David did not become proud or boastful about the way you blessed him, and he was even hesitant to marry the king's daughter. What a surprise to find how Michal's "love" for David did not cause her to forsake the possession of an idol, or keep her from lying for the sake of her own safety when questioned by her father. Lord, apply to my heart the lessons you have for me from these passages. Amen.

Published 23 March 2016