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Michal – Bitter and Barren

Written by Noreen Jacks. Posted in

Most of you are probably familiar with the account of Michal, the wife of King David, who ridiculed him for his exuberant dancing before the Lord when the Ark of the Covenant was safely returned to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6). Tragically, Michal suffered a serious consequence for her prideful attitude … barrenness, the greatest pain and shame a woman of her era could imagine, a curse worse than death in the ancient world:
“Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.” 2 Sam 6:23

Michal was barren in more ways than one. She was physically barren and spiritually barren, meaning she was void of the life of the living God within her because she refused the opportunity to honor Him. Rather than entering into praise and worship as David did, she demeaned her husband for doing so. One cannot help but wonder if Michal’s barrenness was a punishment inflicted upon her by God or if David ignored her from that time onward. This is yet another question the Bible does not answer.

One might also ponder why Michal was referred to as the daughter of Saul, rather than the wife of David? It appears that Michal’s bitter, perhaps even jealous attitude was more like that of her father than her husband, David, who was a man after God’s own heart:

“But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart [David], and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 1 Sam 13:14

The Jewish Women’s Archives posts an article entitled: “Michal, Daughter of Saul: Midrash and Aggadah”, by Tamar Kadari. The article presents a most interesting rabbinical perspective regarding Michal’s tragic barrenness “until her dying day.” According to the rabbis, Michal, who some claim was David’s favorite wife, gave birth to his son, Ithream, on the day she died. Jewish tradition claims Michal bleated like a sheep during delivery before dying in childbirth and therefore, she was given the name Eglah, meaning a female calf or heifer. One might wonder why she was not given the name of a sheep. The name Eglah, a wife of David, is recorded in the following passage. The question remains, however, was Eglah another name for Michal?
2 Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; 4 and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5 and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David at Hebron. 2 Sam 3:2-5
Some rabbinical sources claim Michal raised the five sons of her deceased sister, Merab, as though they were her own. They attest to her righteousness further, claiming that Michal put on 'tefillin' every day, although women were not required by law to perform the ritual (Ex 13:1-10; Deut 6:4-9).
One can hope that Michal eventually atoned for her sinful attitude. There is no room for false worship or lukewarm worship in the kingdom of God. Our Lord must be glorified with a pure heart. Be sure to follow David’s humble example, rather than that of the bitter, barren Michal.

*Tefillin are small, black, leather boxes worn by observant, adult male Jews on the forehead (shel rosh) and arm (shel yod). The boxes contain parchment inscribed with specific verses from the Torah, including the Shema Prayer (Deut 6:4-9). The Greek name for tefillin is phylacteries, a term that was spoken of by Yeshua in the New Testament (Matt 23:5).

*This article has been excerpted from my work in progress: Pathway to the Throne Room – Embracing the Call to Worship, available soon from

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