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Women Of The Bible: Lesson #12 – Ahinoam (The Wife of Saul), Michal (Saul’s Daughter) and Abigail

AHINOAM, THE WIFE OF SAUL

Scripture reference:  1 Samuel 14:50

Date:  About 1025 b.c.

Name:  Ahinoam [uh-HIN-oh-am: brother is delight]

The Ahinoam to whom Saul was married is mentioned only one time in the Old Testament: Sauls wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. David married a woman of the same name, of whom we also know little except that she gave David his firstborn son, Amnon. Yet Davids Ahinoam is mentioned no less than six times in Scripture.

We might account for the difference by the fact that David is far more significant in sacred history than Saul. Yet the single brief mention of Sauls Ahinoam seems somehow suggestive. Her name is never associated with the names of Sauls sons or daughters, although as Sauls sole wife she must have borne them. It is almost as if Ahinoam were a ghost, so insubstantial a presence in the royal household that no one took notice of her.

This impression is strengthened when we recall the experience of Michal, Sauls daughter. Where was Ahinoam when Saul chose to use Michals innocent love to ensnare David? Where was Ahinoam when Saul tried to kill David and Michal bravely stood by her husband? Where was Ahinoam when Saul pronounced Michals marriage to David to be over, and gave his daughter to another man? Perhaps by then Ahinoam had died. Or, perhaps, Ahinoam was one of those well-meaning but ineffective individuals who wanted the best for her daughter, but was too fearful to intercede on her behalf.

How many women enter marriage with such a strong desire to please their husbands that their own identity gradually slips away? How many women, after years of marriage, know only the things their husbands like or dislike, and no longer have tastes or opinions of their own? And how many women become so insubstantial that, when their children most need their support, they simply have nothing to give?

We cannot know if Ahinoam was one of these women, for an argument from silence is weak indeed. But if Ahinoam still lived when controversy swirled around David, Saul, and Michal, the Bibles silence about her may be significant indeed.

 

MICHAL, SAULS DAUGHTER

Scripture references:  1 Samuel 14:49; 18:1728; 19:1017; 25:44; 2 Samuel 3:13, 14; 6:1623; 1 Chronicles 15:2529

Note: 2 Chronicles 21:8 refers to Mirab, not Michal.

Date:  About 1025 b.c.

Name:  Michal [MI-kuhl: who is like God?]

Main contribution:  Davids first wife, she sided with him against her father Saul and helped save his life.

Michal fell in love with David as a young girl. Her father, Saul, hoped to use her love to get rid of David. When Sauls plot failed, he married the young couple. Later when Saul could no longer disguise his hatred of David, Saul openly tried to kill David. Michal helped David escape, but she was left behind. Her father declared Michals marriage to the outlawed David over and gave her in marriage to another man.

Years later, after Sauls death, and with David about to become king of a united Israel, David demanded Michal be returned to him. Davids motive was political, for marriage to Sauls daughter strengthened his claim to be Sauls successor. Michal was torn from her second husband and returned to David. We see Michals bitterness in the final scene in which she appears. As David brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, he led the procession, dancing and singing ecstatically. Michal, watching, was overcome with contempt and despised him in her heart (1 Chr. 15:29). When David entered his palace, Michal met him and spewed out her loathing. David coldly dismissed her and cut off all relations with her. The text simply says, therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death (2 Sam. 6:23).

 MICHAL: A CLOSE-UP

Michal is as much a victim of men as any woman in Scripture. And the men who used and discarded Michal were the very men in whom sheshould have been most able to trust.

Michals first betrayer was her father, Saul. Rather than seek the happiness of his daughter, Saul was quick to use her love for David as a snare to get rid of him. He was utterly insensitive to the pain Davids death would have caused Michal. After David was forced outside the law by the king, Saul again ignored his daughters feelings and married her to another man. Rather than value his daughter as a person and show concern for her, Saul used her as a pawn to gain his own private ends.

Michals second betrayer was her first love, David. Despite the loyalty Michal had shown toward David and the risks she had taken for him, there is no record that David tried to retrieve his young bride after their separation. Instead David married other women during his outlaw years. It was not until after Sauls death, after negotiations had begun to make David ruler of all Israel, that David remembered Michal. Then he demanded that she be taken from her second husband, to whom she had been married for at least ten years, and returned to him.

Like Saul, David showed an utter disregard from Michals feelings or desires. David did not consult her when he demanded she be returned to him. David, motivated by a calculated assessment of the political situation rather than love, showed that he was just as willing to use Michal as her father had been.

Yet the real tragedy is that Michals mistreatment by her father and by David made her so bitter that she could not appreciate God. David, for all his flaws, sensed Gods presence. As the ark of the covenant was carried into Jerusalem, Davids heart was filled with joy. After all the betrayal in her life, Michal was so filled with bitterness she simply could not sense Gods presence or feel His love.

While we should be able to trust those we love, we need to remember that they are all too human. The only One we can trust completely is God.

While we can understand Michals bitterness, she demonstrates the cost of remaining bitter. Even though she was justified in feeling bitter, we need to give our bitterness up to God. Only then will the Holy Spirit work his ministry of healing in us and return our joy.

 

ABIGAIL

Scripture references:  1 Samuel 25:342; 27:3; 30:5; 2 Samuel 2:2; 3:2; 1 Chronicles 3:1

Date:  About 1000 b.c.

Name:  Abigail [AB-uh-gail: father rejoices]

Main contribution:  Abigail prevented David from shedding the blood of Gods people and so impressed David that he later married her.

Abigails story:    Abigail was married to a man named Nabal [fool], a wealthy rancher. During his outlaw years David and his followers had beencamped near Nabals lands. Rather than raid Nabals flocks, Davids men had helped his shepherds protect the sheep.

When sheep-shearing time arrived, David sent some of his men to Nabal, asking for appropriate remuneration. Nabal, despite the testimony of his herdsmen and shepherds, refused their request and insulted David. When David heard, he was furious, and he immediately set out with his men to wipe out Nabal and his whole household.

Meanwhile, the herdsmen, shocked by Nabals response and terrified at what David might do, went to Abigail. She immediately assembled foodstuffs and set out to intercept David. First Samuel 25:2331 tells us:

Now when Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground. So she fell at his feet and said: On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant. Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.

Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, since the Lord has held you back from coming to bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hand, now then, let your enemies and those who seek harm for my lord be as Nabal. And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant. For the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the Lord, and evil is not found in you throughout your days.

Yet a man has risen to pursue you and seek your life, but the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the Lord your God; and the lives of your enemies He shall sling out, as from the pocket of a sling. And it shall come to pass, when the Lord has done for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you ruler over Israel, that this will be no grief to you, nor offense of heart to my lord, either that you have shed blood without cause, or that my lord has avenged himself. But when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.

Abigails quick action and her words reveal both a special intelligence and wisdom. She succeeded in turning David from his plan and so impressed him that when Nabal died of a stroke a few days later, David married Abigail.

Abigails speech, then, although brief, is filled with subtle argument, the wisdom of which David immediately recognized. His response to Abigail was, Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! (v. 32).

All we know of Abigail is summed up in the passage that describes her brief but intense meeting with David. Yet she comes through as one of the most notable women of the Old Testament. Abigail was wise, decisive, and yet sensitive. She clearly had great interpersonal skills, and was not only able to diffuse Davids anger, but also was able to help him think through the consequences of his hastily conceived intentions. She enabled David to retain his self-respect and the respect of his men. Abigail seemed intuitively to realize that David was a complex individual, and she shaped her appeal to fit not only Davids political goals but also his moral commitments. Abigail appealed to what was best in Davids character. She helped him choose to act out of those basic values.

Couples today should emulate the exchange between Abigail and David. Abigail offered advice, but in a wise and gracious way. David did not let his ego deter him from heeding what she said.

Abigail reminds us that women should not hide their strengths in an effort to be acceptable to men. Many weak men want women who are less intelligent and less confident than themselves.