Michal, My Shero

Today we talked about Michal (1 and 2 Samuel) in class. Michal is David’s first wife, and there is so much to this story. Even though the story is short; there is great depth in the little that is written. I think it is one of the most important stories for us to not only hear, but also feel, in this moment in time we are living. Juliana Moore Rivera led our discussion today. My love for Juliana Moore Rivera can’t be written adequately in words. She is a dear friend. And she is an amazing teacher. Conversations with her always bring out so many angles that speak to where each of us are on our journey. That is the beauty of scripture. It is supposed to do that, and a good teacher can make it happen. Juliana is one of those teachers. Michal’s story stuck out to me in Old Testament most vividly, because it is a story that actually communicates feelings by those around David. It doesn’t reveal David’s feelings, though, and I think that is really important to highlight. First of all, Jonathan, Michal’s brother and Saul’s son, loves David-as if he was his own soul (there is a lot to that statement). Then it also says Michal loved David. It is not often feelings are written in scripture. The stories are written and we do with them what we will- imagining what might be going through their head or how they feel. This story gives specifics, and when scripture speaks, it is important. The OT is a Jewish meditation and intentionally vague. I am saying this to emphasize again the importance that scripture wrote feelings in this story. It did not leave it up to us to decide-except on David. Saul, as we all know, quickly grew jealous of David. Jonathan intervenes on David’s behalf-and so does Michal. Michal does it after they are married, which we know she loved David, but we don’t know that David loved her. He went and won 100 foreskins (gross) from the Philistines so he could earn her from her father Saul (Patriarchy is a beast). Eventually holding off Saul from killing David becomes too much, and Michal helps him escape. She fools her father, like Rachel did with her father when she and Jacob were fleeing. David leaves for 14 years and marries other women. The story of Jonathan and David’s friendship continues, not Michal’s story with David. It isn’t until he needs Michal again to make a power political move when he calls her back to him. She is forced back to David with her weeping husband following behind her. This is so so sad. I have tears writing this. She has a man now who clearly loves her. We know by his weeping. David, no emotion is written. But in 2 Samuel 6, Michal is looking out the window (in my mind this is her seeing reality for what it is-she has been used over and over) and sees David dancing around naked for all to see. Now the text says she despises him. She goes out to him and calls him on his shit. Then David arrogantly says it is the Lord that chose him in place of her father. He is the prince of the people, and he was dancing before the Lord. He says a few more things and then Michal is sent away, and it says she had no children. She is no longer in the story. This happens to women over and over. And this a story that actually names the woman, often we don’t even get a name. There are commentaries calling her a bitter and cynical woman. We like to do that when women get angry. I feel Michal so deeply in my spirit. She was used one too many times. She saved David’s freaking life, loved him in marriage, went to him, when forced, to suit his political needs–but her anger is what sent her out of the story. I told the class her wounds were healed that day. She chose herself. She chose to stand up for herself, and believed she was worthy of better treatment than what David gave her. The script may have tried to write her out, but this moment is a gigantic moment, and one more women need to know about. For all the talk about David’s chosen-ness, there are women (and men) he deeply hurt. They did not give him a pass by calling him chosen. What does that even mean? When we learn to love ourselves, the world may call us names and make false assumptions. But Michal became free that day.Makes me think of Queen Vashti, too. She told the King no, and he sent her away. This is when Esther comes in. Without Vashti, there would be no Esther.

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