Why did Michal despise David in her heart?

Q. I need some help.  II Samuel 6:16 says Michal “despised him in her heart” (NKJV)/”was disgusted with him” (TEV).  My wife has asked me why Michal’s attitude changed towards David.  What happened?  My research has not given me an adequate explanation. So, I come to my resident rabbi for help.

A. Dear Reverend Don,

As per our earlier conversation on this subject, David never particularly cared for the royal pomp that went with being king. In his heart of hearts, David was and remained a shepherd throughout most of his life. Now the term b’zâ is rendered as “despised,” but the basic meaning of its root connotes, “to accord little worth to something.” While this action may or may not include overt feelings of contempt or scorn, the biblical usage indicates that the very act of undervaluing something or someone implies contempt. Thus both translations seem correct.

Michal’s father may not have been as spontaneous as David, but he always conducted himself with royal courtesy–and it was this quality that Michal missed so dearly after her father was killed. After Saul gave her to Paltiel, David insisted that she be returned to him; this passage might suggest.

Yes, political marriages reflect a certain cynicism on the part of David, who probably never felt that seriously attracted to Michal, but married her in order to improve his reputation and status among the royal families and local dignitaries. In her eyes, Saul was the true king; he was a man who behaved as a king should, but David–he was a commoner who behaved like a commoner even when he was king; Saul would never have acted so disrespectfully in front of the Ark of the Covenant, but David had no sense of propriety whatsoever. What chutzpa! David went too far this time! (Rashi).

Michal never bore an heir for David, which could suggest that she really stayed aloof from him, or that he avoided her because their relationship was tortured and loveless. Like Bill Clinton, King David had some real difficulties with self-control. I suspect this was the primary reason why Michal disrespected her husband.


20 May