2 Samuel 6:12-23
Our nation is in the midst of seismic change—The old way of doing business in which powerful men could with impunity treat the women they work with as objects to leered at and groped and propositioned, that is being dismantled right before our eyes. It is a good thing. Hardly a week goes by without a survivor telling the truth, telling their story, and being believed. It is a good thing. Hardly a week goes by without a predatory abuser being exposed and held accountable. It is a good thing, live and up to the minute, the old ways are passing away and a new way is being built, just spend an hour reading twitter on the hashtags MeToo. But since I’m up here preaching, the question is—what can the Bible offer that is any help? The bible is not only ancient, it is seemingly filled with stories of nothing but men doing whatever they please. The survivor stories being told in the #metoo movement are nothing new, they were always there, just submerged, untold or not believed. So too does the bible contain stories of powerful women standing up and telling the truth, these stories have always been there, just submerged, or not believed.
I offer a story, a 3,000 year old story about a woman named Michal. Michal was royalty, the daughter of the first king of Israel. Michal’s family had a destiny, to transform the people of Israel into a nation. Before Michal was born, the people were little more than a pack of wanderers and nomads led by war chiefs and prophets. By the time Michal died, the people had been forged into a nation, with its capital city in Jerusalem and plans to build a grand temple for God. And without Michal, none of it would have happened.
To change nomads into a nation, there would need to be leaders from among the people, Michal knew this. And Michal had found someone very promising. He was a young man, the child of a shepherd, no one special. He fancied himself a musician and was always playing music in the royal court, but that’s not why he was there. He was something of a celebrity because it was said that he had slain a giant of a man, not with brute force but with wits and skill.
Michal believed in him, saw greatness, saw leadership in him. And so Michal decided that she would elevate this young man, David. No more would he be a giant slaying musician playing out his fifteen minutes of fame, instead Michal would make him royalty. Michal decided to change his life, and saw to it that word of her favor for this giant-slayer reached the right ears. They were to be married, Michal and David were to be leaders of the nation, side by side. But Michal’s father the king, he tried to thwart her plan. The king plotted to kill David, sending armed guards in the middle of the night. They would burst in while he was asleep and kill him in his bed. Michal, however, learned of the plot, and this left her with a choice to make. Would she remain loyal to her father the king? Or would she choose to shape the destiny of the nation? Michal made her choice. She slipped into David’s house in the middle of the night, woke him in silence, and lowered him out of a high window. Then she dressed up a dummy just like him and when the armed men came bursting in, Michal convinced them that David was deathly ill. By the time the trick was discovered, the young man was long gone. Michal risked her life, and made an enemy of her own father, all because she believed that together, she and the giant-slayer could change everything.
This moment this is a turning point for the nation of Israel. This young man whom Michal had elevated to a prince, he fled the city and he gathered an army. With the legitimacy Michal had given him, armies flocked to him, the young giant slayer won the war against Michal’s father, he became the king. King David. If you didn’t know that he only becme the king because of the political savvy of a woman, now you know. Her name is michal. Submerged…or not beleved…but there. That’s not the end either.
Michal had given this young man everything, and now that the war was done, they were to be reunited. They were to rule side by side. But when Michal reached the throne room she found that in her rightful place on the throne there was…another woman. Michal’s husband had married someone else. Now this was not a marriage of political expediency needed to secure allies for the war, that Michal could have understood. Michal’s husband had not one wife, but six wives. And not only wives, there were 11 children by 11 different women and so many mistresses that the bible simply stops naming them after a while and says there were “many” mistresses.
Michal’s choice to elevate this young man was a costly one. Her father died in the war, her brother died in the war. But it was supposed to have been worth it, her family’s destiny was to forge the people into a nation. And Michal had done it! And this man repays her by assembling dozens of women as playthings? The man Michal had made king, he treated the throne of Israel and turned in service of his appetites. How dare he? This went on, and on, and on.
Who knows what makes something the final straw. For Michal, the final straw wasn’t the worst thing King David ever did, not even close. The man she had made the king was off on a holy quest. He was to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant, the vessel that had borne the Ten Commandments, the Law of God that would guide the people in living as the people of God.
And the man she had made the king, the man who Michal had sacrificed everything for because she believed he could be a leader, he came back to the City of God with the Ark of the Covenant. And he entered the city dancing. He was stripped down to just a loincloth and was dancing and whirling and parading his naked flesh before the young women of the city. This man whose life she had saved, this man who was only king because of her, he was supposed to be doing his duty as a king returning the holiest relic in the history of the people of God. People had come to see the return of a holy relic, and he’s decides the right thing to do is expose himself to the young women lining the streets? Michal despised him now. Others put up with him, but Michal was done. She confronted him: How the king of Israel honoured himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly expose himself!’. 2 Samuel chapter 6
Michal stands up to the king, calls him out for his shameless treatment of women. And Michal is right. King David was behaving shamefully, he was abusing his position of power and authority to take advantage of women and only Michal had the guts to tell him the truth. The Holy Spirit spoke through Michal. What might have been an event forgotten to time and history, instead, Michal’s words of courage have echoed over three thousand years. Anyone who thinks that the #MeToo movement will not have staying power, I say this—Three thousand years ago Michal spoke the truth in courage and we can read those words today.
So in the era of MeToo, when the world is being transformed all around us, what can the church offer? We have our story, and we have long memory. Stories deep enough to have hope, memories long enough to have saints. I offer you a saint, submerged within the deep and mist covered past of the people of Israel. To all those who are changing the world, live and up to the minute, Whether with HR or Hashtags or lawsuits or legislation or by packing a go-bag with hands-shaking, to you who are changing the world—I offer you a saint, Michal, architect of the people of God, who transformed the people of Israel from nomads into a nation. Michal, who outwitted not one but two kings. Michal who did not allow the sexual degradation of women to go unchallenged as if it were acceptable. Michal, whose words have echoed for three thousand years. Michal, who will join her voice with yours, if you but speak.