David and Michal

Samuel 6: 1-19

sermons on the David-Michal passage as a justification to loosen up worship
to get people not being so uptight about what can (or can’t) go on in services.

A colleague of mine has a sermon on his website citing this passage, in part,
to encourage Baptists to re-think their traditional negativity towards dancing.

When we focus on David in the David story, our reading may well lead us to this.

But we continue to focus on the supporting actors in the series.
And today, it is Michal – or Michelle as she is known in modern paraphrases.

She comes out of this passage looking sour, stern, twisted and cursed.

She is, along with many women of the scriptures, hardly done by.

Michal is not remembered as
  the only woman in the Hebrew Scriptures

who is recorded as loving a man; or
  the woman who risked her

life and her relationship with her father-king
                to save David

from being killed by Saul;  or
  the woman who was treated as a

chattel, a possession
                                to be given to David, then traded off to

Palti, then grabbed back by David
                                all when it suited the males

in control to hand her around like livestock

No, she is the kill-joy, the nagging wife.

As always, history – even Scripture – is told by the winners, and the powerful.

There is little evidence that David ever saw Michal as more than a prize.

In fact there isn’t much evidence that he saw any women as equal humans.

Michal loved him… It suited him to be married to the king of Israel

  1 Samuel tells us.

She was later given by Saul to Palti, while David gained 6 other wives
                and then after Saul was killed, David demanded that Michal be

given back to him
                while Palti followed behind in tears at the loss of his wife.

The seeds of the treatment of Uriah and Bathsheba that we will look at

next week
                seem well sown already in David’s character.

So maybe this passage – at least as we look at the supporting actors

in this series –
gives us the chance to reflect on the way that

all too often
people are treated as objects or as trophies,
or

as pawns to be manipulated in a game of control over others.

In the worst of its manifestiations,
this comes across in situations

such as the comfort women of Japan in WW2,
where up to 200,000 women – mostly Korean – were lured to military bases  on the

guise of factory jobs, and then instead forced into brothels,
where, on average they were raped 7500 times each over the next 3 years.

The treating of people (& all too often women) as objects – as commodities
degrades them and robs them of their status as children of God.
We should not be surprised or come out in judgement
when there are expressions of anger, bitterness, hatred that flow from them
especially towards those who have treated them as sub-human.

But for most of us, we will not come face to face with such an experience
we will not have been treated as pawns, as objects.

But the Michal story may still be one to sit with us.

Let us scale back the experience of Michal
into settings which are

possibly more understandable for us.

I wonder if there are experiences we have at the moment, relationships,

or friendships that we are in (or almost in) where there is a

latent bitterness, a resentment even a hate of some sort
where once the relationship was warm, positive, healthy.

Sometimes we hold on to a bitterness and turn to people as Michal turned on David.

Sometimes we simply get into the habit of a distance or a separateness
that far far exceeds the original cause of the hurt

A friend of mine is part of a family
where siblings have not spoken

to each other in years
though now no one can remember what started it.

But they now it must have been something important, because it has lasted so long.


When we hold an emptiness, or a grudge, or a bitterness or a hatred
we run the risk of diminishing ourselves .

And although we may like to think that we are well justified
maybe it is by engaging with the story of Michal
that we can gain a sense

of perspective on how we have truly been treated.

I love the Message’s translation of John 21: 22-23
when Jesus is commissioning his disciples on Easter Sunday evening:

“If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good.

If you don’t forgive sins, what are you doing to do with them?”

Michal was indeed very hardly done by.

She was seen as an object to be handed over for personal and political gain.

And there are indeed, still stories of people who are treated as sub human
 whose use to others is only what can be gained through them.

In those circumstances we understood the strength of what we heard from

2 Samuel.

In most of our circumstances, we need to be careful before we claim the right
to hold on to a hurt, and to maintain a brokenness
in a relationship, a friendship, a family
with a call on righteous and

proper disdain to another person.

Instead, we may find our lives, and the lives of others
more truly righteous, by letting go

 

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