Sometimes what we need from God comes in the form of a story; a story about a woman or a man who shows us a way, when we could see no way; a person who shows that we are not alone, never alone, always and ever surrounded by brethren. So I offer you a story. It is a story submerged within the deep and mist covered past of the people of Israel, from a time of myth and miracle a time of kings and prophets and giants. It is the story of a woman, named Michal.
Michal was the daughter of the first king of Israel, she grew up in the capital and its courts. But even though she was the daughter of a king, Michal was in love with a commoner. He was not just a commoner he was a nobody, the last son of poor family from a nowhere town called Bethlehem. But he was ruddy and handsome, strong and crafty, a musician and a warrior and a poet who had made his name by slaying a giant with just a slingshot, and Michal loved him so.
Now, Michal’s father the king was a paranoid man, always plotting and scheming, forging this alliance and breaking that one, advancing this subordinate and imprisoning that one. He was obsessed with the idea that people were plotting to overthrow him he saw conspiracies around every corner. And Michal’s father’s suspicions fell particularly on the young man Michal loved. This young man was a celebrity at court, everybody loved him and he seemed to have boundless ambition, and if he was bold enough to topple a giant, perhaps he would be bold enough to topple a king?
Michal was in love with the young man and her father was suspicious of him—everyone at court could see that.
So it is difficult to imagine what Michal’s joy must have been when one day, like a bolt of lightning from a clear blue sky, Michal’s father announced that she was to marry the young man she so loved. Michal, the daughter of the king, was to marry her handsome and heroic love and then live happily ever after. It was all like a fairy tale—except—the king said, there is just one little thing. If his daughter was to marry this famous court celebrity giant slaying hero that everyone seemed to love almost as much as they loved their rightful king. There was just one condition—the young man would have to prove he was worthy to be part of the king’s family, prove he was worthy to be in line for the throne by personally slaying one hundred enemy soldiers.
Michal’s joy turned to terror, her dream into a nightmare. Her father had betrayed her, what’s worse, he had used her love as a way of luring the man she loved into a trap. Her beloved was being sent on a fool’s errand, an errand her father had intended to be the death of him. If the young man had any sense he would leave and never come back. Michal’s beloved left, and I doubt she expected she would ever see him again.
But then, beyond all expectation, beyond all reason, far sooner than anyone could have anticipated Michal’s beloved came striding back into the royal court beaming with pride and carrying more than enough bloody war trophies to show he had met the king’s dowry price. The king’s plan had backfired. Michal’s beloved was more famous than ever and they were married in the wedding of the year. Michal was a princess, married to the crown prince, next in line for the throne of her father, Michal and her beloved beamed with triumph, Michal’s father the king seethed with murderous anger.
Almost before Michal and her beloved could warm their marriage bed, however, her father sent hired men to fetch the young man out of bed. But Michal was her father’s daughter and knew what sort of man he was. So when the kings men came banging on the door, demanding to take her beloved to see the king, Michal knew they were there on a mission of murder, and she was ready for them. She lowered her beloved out of a window in the night, watching him slip away safely into the darkness. She then placed a dummy into their bed and fixed a curly wig to its head before opening the door. “He is sick in bed” she said, “see for yourself”. They reluctantly went away, their plan to kill the famous young giant slayer and throne usurper foiled.
When Michal’s father heard of it, he was furious. He confronted her and demanded to know why Michal had betrayed their family. With this young man now on the loose, knowing the king meant to kill him, and commanding a formidable military force, a civil war began. Michal’s father and her beloved, each vying to control the throne of Israel with her caught in the middle. Michal’s father married her off to some other man, a petty noble whose loyalty in the civil war the king bought at the price of his daughter. Michal was sent away from her home, to a far off place to live with a man she did not love. Michal waited for her beloved to come rescue her from this arranged marriage. The war was going very well for her beloved, every day more and more people flocked to his side. And yet still Michal’s beloved did not come to reclaim her. One day Michal received word that her father’s army had routed and he himself been killed in battle. But still Michal’s beloved did not come to reclaim her. Michal learned that beloved had claimed the throne and all the rest of her family were dead, and yet still Michal’s beloved did not come to reclaim her. Lonely months turned into benighted years passing, why did her beloved abandon her?
What could have explained her beloved leaving her alone all these years? Had the burden of the war and the hardship of ruling a kingdom simply consumed his attention? Would she find him waiting the way she had waited?
Then one day, her beloved did come get her. Well, he sent a lackey to pick her up, anyway. Michal returned to court hoping to understand what had happened, what could have cause her beloved to so long delay their reunion, and then she saw it, and understood. Her beloved sat on the throne where her father had once sat, and sitting at his side was another woman. Her beloved had married another woman, in fact he married six other women.
Michal was one of seven wives to her beloved and if that were not enough of an insult to her love, she came to understand why it was that she had been summoned back. Since Michal was the daughter of the former king, if she had any children they would have a claim upon the throne. It was only after he had begun consolidating his power, only after he began eliminating any threats to his rule, it was only then that Michal’s beloved remembered that she existed at all.
She understood now, her beloved had used her. He had never loved her at all but only used her in order to become king. Michal’s father was dead, her brothers were dead, her whole family was dead, she had spent years in exile and was now trapped in a sham marriage, all of it, her whole life, her beautiful hopes, her devoted love, all in service of this man becoming the king of Israel. And yet still Michal stayed, she loved him.