Forty women: 27. Michal

She used to love him once. Back when he was young and handsome. Back when he was the nation’s hero, having slung his stone at the giant Philistine warrior.

She was a bit starstruck, perhaps, when he first came to live with her family. Not just a war hero, but a poet, a musician. All the girls swooned a little bit when David was around.

She’d heard that her father planned to marry him to Merab, her older sister, only David had turned him down. And then there was suddenly an opening. A possibility. A moment for the younger sister to shine and she grabbed it with both hands, never stopping to think about why her father looked so pleased or why her husband had been so willing to destroy a Philistine army to win her.

Because back then, all she could think about was the man she loved. Her hero.

She hadn’t known her father hated him. She hadn’t known he was plotting to kill him. She hadn’t realised she was supposed to hand him over to his death. She hadn’t expected David to turn on her either, threatening to kill her if she wouldn’t help him escape.

No wonder that she despised him. No wonder that she was glad to be set free from him, sent to a new husband. A safer husband. A nobody without aspirations.

No wonder that when her first husband demanded her return, seemingly unsatisfied with his six other wives, she didn’t want to go.

No wonder that when the ark of the covenant was brought into the city of Jerusalem, she wasn’t part of the welcoming committee. Watching from a window, no wonder that when Michal “saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.” (2 Samuel 6:16)

That great and mighty king of Israel, who’d murdered her father, threatened to kill her, forcibly removed her from a loving husband, and made her part of his harem? Others might still look on David as a hero, but Michal was no longer that teenage girl, awed by his military achievements and swooning at his undeniable good looks. She knew the man beneath.

And she despised him.