Love makes us act in remarkable ways. In my best moments, I confess my feelings to those I love, sacrifice on their behalf, or put myself in harm’s way to protect them. When we love someone, we step out for them. It’s the God-nature He stamped in us (Genesis 1:27).
In my worst moments, I control those I love, demanding they be what I need. I make them my idols, expecting them to fill me up. I am on a journey, learning that the love I give needs to be daily sourced from God, or else its path is destructive.
Michal has a big story with a heroic beginning and a tragic ending. I wish it were as easy as saying her way of loving was all good or all bad, but she’s the same hot mess I am. Her story is at its best when Michal and David love each other with sacrificial, demonstrative, God-sourced love.
When we look closely at the text, we can identify some of these moments in and hear the echo of God and Gospel in them—
The daughter of King Saul, Michal married David for love, which was not always the case for princesses in biblical history. She chose him (1 Samuel 18:20). It’s our first glimpse of God’s heart expressed in her.
God chose us (Ephesians 1:4).
David must have felt something for Michal as well, because when Saul asked for the death of 100 Philistines as payment for her hand in marriage—knowing there was a chance David would be killed in this effort—David struck down 200 instead. In the unabashed certainty of his gesture we see reflections of Gospel love (1 Samuel 18:27):
Jesus went over and above when paying a price for us (1 John 2:2).
Michal shows love by saving David’s life, stalling and tricking Saul when he comes to kill him. She protects him at great risk to herself.
God laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16).
It must have been confusing, then, when David didn’t come back for her until years later, after her father had already married her off to another man. How did she mend her broken heart? Did she learn to love another? When her father Saul eventually died, David negotiated for Michal’s return, stirring emotions long buried.
God comes for us (Matthew 1:23).
I am can’t imagine the emotional gymnastics Michal’s heart went through as it loved, expressed, felt rejected, was pursued… and then what? How did she accept him? How did she respond to his other wives? What sourced her emotion at this point?
My heart has been stretched in difficult relationships, and I, too, have found myself with choices to make. Will I grow, lean in, be filled? Or will I harden, hold back, be empty?
These moments are opportunities to love God’s way, especially when our human nature roars to be satisfied.
When we last we read of Michal, she berated David for his undignified behavior as he worshipped God with abandon (2 Samuel 6). She despised how he was uncovered and out of control. Her spiteful words are a magnifying glass to her wounds, her hardened heart no longer able to love well.
In his last recorded loving act towards her, David—the man after God’s own heart—said, “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this…” (2 Samuel 6:21-22). He shared truth in that moment as he saw her stubbornness, setting an example for her—and me!—of where to go to be filled up.
God speaks truth to us (John 17:17).
In the end, Michal paid a heavy price for not listening to that truth. She desired David more than she desired God, making an idol out of her king. He is a jealous God, wanting our whole heart to be captivated with Him so He can fill us to overflowing! When she couldn’t have David on her terms, Michal lost her connection to them both.
Let’s pray to be filled with love today—love sourced from God and not from ourselves or or even those we love. May we be satisfied by Him to the point of spilling over, demonstrating who God is by the way we choose to love.
Beth Guckenberger is a girl who ultimately believes God is sovereign. The journey to that life-truth has been raucous, including living 15+ years in a foreign country, raising ten kids and being married for 20 years to a man she calls “her deepest breath.” Beth is a writer, a lover of orphan children, and follower of Jesus. A perfect day for her involves conversations of substance, ample dark chocolate and an ocean.