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What is the story of David and Michal?

David and Michal audio

The biblical account of David and Michal is found in 1 Samuel. Michal was the first wife of David and the daughter of King Saul of the tribe of Benjamin. She is first mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:49 as the younger of Saul’s two daughters. David was the youngest son of Jesse from the tribe of Judah. He served as a shepherd in his youth and was known for playing the harp. He played for King Saul before being promoted as his armor bearer. David came to national prominence in Israel when he killed the Philistine giant Goliath, an event that resulted in a major military victory (1 Samuel 16).

After the defeat of Goliath, Saul offered his older daughter Merab to David as a wife. David felt unworthy of this honor, and Merab was given to a man named Adriel instead (1 Samuel 18:17).

First Samuel 18:20 sets the stage for David and Michal, “Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased.” Saul requested an odd bride price, however—a hundred foreskins of the Philistines. He demanded this price in order to see David killed: “Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 18:25). However, David completed the mission and took Michal as his wife, making Saul an even greater enemy to him.

Later, Saul sent men to kill David, but Michal helped David escape through a window, and she covered for him with a story that he was sick. She afterwards claimed David had threatened to kill her if she didn’t help him (1 Samuel 19:11–17). In 1 Samuel 25:44, we discover Michal was taken from David and given as a bride to Palti son of Laish. After Saul died in a battle against the Philistines, David demanded Michal back as his wife as a condition of his becoming king of Judah. His condition was met (2 Samuel 3:13–16).

The only other biblical account of David and Michal concerns David’s bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Second Samuel 6:16 says that David danced with all his might before the Lord and that his wife “despised him in her heart.” We are then told, “Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’” (2 Samuel 6:20). David rebuked Michal, and the final verse of the chapter notes that Michal had no children.

What began as a “celebrity marriage” in Israel involved a series of dramatic events that ultimately led to David choosing multiple wives. Michal chose to speak against her husband and went through her life childless. Though David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), his marriage relationships were problematic. Through David and Michal’s relationship, God worked despite their sinful nature, and the Lord likewise calls us today to live for Him despite past failures to pursue His direction for our lives.

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What is the story of David and Michal?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2022