Heart of the Story: Princess Merab was the victim of kings.
Back Story: Merab was Saul’s oldest daughter. When Saul was looking for a champion to fight Goliath, he promised his daughter in marriage to the man who defeated Goliath (1 Samuel 17:25-25). Saul did not designate which daughter he would give David. The Bible identified that Saul had at least two daughters, Merab and Michal. Marrying the daughter of a king, automatically raised the status of the groom and gave him an opening to the throne. Saul kept his word and offered his oldest daughter, Merab, to David in marriage. David declined the marriage, expressing his unworthiness to become the king’s son-in-law (1 Samuel 18:18). Several Bible commentators suggested that Merab was older than David and the age differences contributed to David declining to marry her.
Story Line: When the time came for Merab to be given to David, King Saul married her to Adriel of Meholah. Abek-Meholah was a town in the Jordan Valley about 10 miles south of Bethshean. Saul’s clan maintained an alliance with the residents of Meholah. Giving Merab, his oldest daughter, to Adriel of Meholah demonstrated to Adriel’s lime family and all of Israel how important Saul viewed this alliance.
Merab was the mother of five sons with Adriel. King David was culpable in the deaths of all five sons. During the early years of David reign in Jerusalem, Israel experienced a three-year famine subsequent to lack of rain. God told David that the famine was the result of Saul killing and almost decimating the Gibeonites, a non-Israelite clan who signed a peace treaty with Israel 400 years earlier. David asked the remaining Gibeonites what he could do so they would bless Israel. The Gibeonites requested seven of Saul’s descendants so they could put them to death. David turned over five sons Merab and the two sons of Saul’s concubine, Rizpah. The first day of the barley harvest, the Gibeonites murdered and exposed the bodies of the seven men at Gibeah. Gibeah was the home town of both the Gibeonites and Saul and his ancestors.
Pondering Relationships: How could the much loved and admired King David sanction such a horrendous action? David well knew that the Gibeonites would murder Saul’s grandsons. Perhaps, David was secretly glad that these seven legitimate descendants of Saul would be killed. If dead, they would never ferment a rebellion against David and his kingship over the 12 tribes.
Reflection: Merab was a powerless victim. Have you ever been in a powerless situation. How does that feel?
Both of King Saul’s daughters were pawns and victims. If you want to learn more about lives and royal women in the Bible, go to Carolyn Roth Ministry (http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/) and consider buying the book, Lesser Known Bible Characters.
Copyright June 9, 2016; Carolyn A. Roth