Thursday, 22 February 2018

Fickle hearts

Life bumbles on, it has its ups and downs but somehow, God's purpose does manifest itself, God's delight breaks through, and God's love makes the heart ever bolder yet ever more sensitive. 

Most days are just a fog of ordinariness and anonymity and most days are simply too demanding to feel in the slightest bit "spiritual".  Ordinariness is very needy,  but there are programs running in the background of the consciousness that occasionally break out and seek answers.  One program running in my consciousness has been to understand Michal, King David's first wife.  And it is Lent and Lent is always a good time to read more scripture. So this post is about how I see Michal.  Obviously it is coloured by my own experiences, but it is my experiences that make her special to me, in the same way Ruth is special to me and I am forever seeking a Boaz, but good men are so hard to find.....

David is Everyman.  David's Psalms are the songs of the heart of Everyman.  David is the Lord's Anointed.  There is no denying David's greatness or his love of God.  But David is human and David's relationship with Michal reveals so much about human nature.

Michal loved David.  It says it clearly in the scriptures and I think it is the only time (it is certainly the first time) a woman's love for a man is mentioned (unless you read Mgr Knox's translation, which  renders it somewhat different  but is out of kilter with all the others). Yes she loved him and it showed, and her father Saul saw political capital that could be made from this.  David needed to provide a bounty (Philistine foreskins) to get the woman who loved him.  David did the necessary.  And Michal loved David.  And then, when it became evident that Saul was out to kill David, she sacrificed everything to help him live.  You do that sort of thing when you love someone.  She helped him escape knowing full well that she was putting both her life and her happiness of being together with David on the line... she may never see him again.

David is gone and Saul marries her off to another man.  This man loves her, scripture tells us this is so, and he loves her despite the fact her heart yearns for someone else.  So she settles down to what she thinks will be a life of anonymous domesticity with a loving man. Life's not too bad.

Meanwhile David meets the rather lovely Abigail on his travels and she becomes wife number two, they are well matched in intelligence and vivacity, nobody can deny the goodness of the match and it rescues Abigail from a klutz of a husband, Nabal.  All good fun.  Unless you are Michal (or Nabal).

Sometime later and even more wives later, David remembers the bounty of foreskins he laboured to obtain for Michal and wants Michal back.  He does seem far more concerned about the foreskins than any affection for his first wife. Michal is removed from her husband who is distraught and brought to David.  David's sense of righteousness is  never out done.

How will Michal have felt to see David and Abigail so close?  How does Michal feel knowing full well that the care and protection of a man who loved her has gone just so that David can have what he is owed. How will Michal feel, knowing that she is just the value of a heap of Philistine foreskins. We are told  how she feels because her reaction to seeing David dancing half-naked around the Ark of the Covenant tells us exactly how she feels. Michal sees David at his most fickle, and she is horrified that his display of love for God may also be as fickle as his love for women .... and this time he has the gall to be getting the attention of the serving girls. Constancy not show would be nice from him..  Quiet fidelity is all she desires from him and he has failed to deliver either to her or to God..... her heart is broken.  She may be his wife, but that relationship will never be consummated......

But this is not the end of the story.  It is good that Michal has no children. Her father had broken a very old covenant, a covenant made by Joshua and for breaking it reparation is sought.  Seven grandsons of Saul are found and hanged by David to make amends. David's righteousness is never outdone.  Unlike her elder sister, Michal was spared such a mother's heartbreak as she had no offspring. And David would have had to have killed his own sons had he and Michal had children

God looks after her. God looks after all of us whose lives aren't quite our own, whose lives are very much shaped by the decisions of others. God is not fickle.

But is scripture telling me that David's righteousness, upholding covenants, and remembering pledges are more important than Michal's sacrificial love?

No, I don't think so because we see that it is in Christ that the marriage of covenants to sacrificial love truly takes place and they become one and the same. It is only Christ who can truly love the fickle heart that resides in each and everyone of us.

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