Bible References: 1 Samuel 14.49; 19.11-17; 25.44; 2 Samuel 3.13-15, 14; 6.16-23; 21.8.
Heart of the Story: Michal was David’s wife; however, Saul (Michal’s father and king of Israel) gave her to Palti as a wife while David was in hiding. Michel lived as Palti’s wife for a number of years.
Back Story: King Saul went to war with the Philistines. David killed Goliath, the Philistine champion. Saul’s youngest daughter, Princess Michal loved David and wanted to marry him. The bride price that King Saul wanted from David was 100 Philistine foreskins. The foreskins were proof that David killed 100 Philistines. David brought King Saul 200 Philistine foreskins. David married Michel. The Bible says that Princess Michal loved David, however, there is no record that he loved her. When King Saul attempted to kill David, Michal warned him. She provided a way for David to escape and fooled King Saul, thus protecting David against her father. While David was hiding from King Saul, he made no effort to have Michal join him. Instead David married two other women who stayed with David. Michal remained in Jerusalem either in her home or in King Saul’s palace.
StoryLine: David didn’t not divorce Michal. To do that David would have had to give Michal a written letter of divorce and send her from his home (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). That didn’t occur; consequently, even though David abandoned Michal, they remained married according to Mosaic Law.
King Saul declared the marriage between David and Michal over; they were divorced. King Saul gave Michal to Palti as his wife. Palti was the son of Laish, of the town of Gallim (1 Samuel 25.43). Apparently, Palti was a supporter of King Saul. How long Michal lived as Palti’s wife is unknown. If his actions are any indication Palti loved Michal (2 Samuel 3.14-16). At this point, readers don’t know who Michal loved if anyone.
When King Saul was killed and David declared king, David demanded the return of Michal. Commander Abner went to Gallim and returned Michal to King David. David’s rationale for reclaiming Michal was that he never divorced her. She was his wife.
Pondering Relationships: Clearly, both Palti and Michal were adulterers. Palti because he willingly had sex with David’s wife. Under Mosaic Law only a husband had the power to divorce his wife. Michal was an adulterer because she had sex with Palti while she was the wife of David. Despite their adultery, the Bible recorded no place that either Michal or Palti were punished (stoned to death). David would have been within his legal right to kill Palti, but then he would have had to enact the same punishment on Michal, which David was unwilling to do.
As a woman, I can identify with Michal’s position. David (with her help) fled her father; David married other women. David made no effort to reclaim Michal. King Saul, Michal’s father and king, declared her marriage to David void. The king (and her father) ordered Michal to marry Palti. Should Michal have defied her father and said, “No, father, I am still married to David.” Perhaps she did so; however, no protesting on Michal’s part moved her father from his position.
Reflection: Princess Michal was a pawn of her husbands and father. According to Mosaic marriage and adultery laws, Michal became an adulterer when she married Palti. Palti was an adulterer when he had sex with David’s wife. Have you ever been an adulterer according to Mosaic Law?
Copyright July 6, 2018; Carolyn A. Roth