|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:20-23 David returned to bless his household, to pray with them, and for them, and to offer up family thanksgiving for this national mercy. It is angels' work to worship God, surely that cannot lower the greatest of men. But even the palaces of princes are not free from family troubles. Exercises of religion appear mean in the eyes of those who have little or no religion themselves. If we can approve ourselves to God in what we do in religion, and do it as before the Lord, we need not heed reproach. Piety will have its praise: let us not be indifferent in it, nor afraid or ashamed to own it. David was contented to justify himself, and he did not further reprove or blame Michal's insolence; but God punished her. Those that honour God, he will honour; but those that despise him, and his servants and service, shall be lightly esteemed.
Verse 23. - Therefore Michal. The Hebrew is, and Michal had no child, Michal's barrenness was long antecedent to this outburst of pride, and was not a punishment for it. It is noticed as a proof that the blessing of God did not rest upon her; and as such it was regarded by the people, and doubtless it lessened David's affection for her. We must not, however, suppose that he imposed upon her any punishment further than this verbal reproof. Nor does the interest lie in Michal's conduct, but in the glimpse which the narrative gives us of David's tender piety towards God, so exactly in agreement with the feelings which animate very many of the psalms. To unite with this a harsh bitterness to the woman who was his first love, who had so protected him in old time, and whom he had summoned back at the first opportunity because of his affection for her, is a thing abhorrent in itself, and contrary to David's character. His fault in domestic matters rather was that he was over fond, not that he was unfeeling. A little more sternness towards Amnon and Absalom would have saved him much sorrow. As for Michal, the story sets her before us as earing a great deal for David, and not much for Jehovah. She could not have approved of such a number of rivals in David's household, but she had not lost her love for him. And the narrative represents her as not having Jehovah's blessing in a matter so greatly thought of by Hebrew women, and as valuing too highly royal state, and forgetting that above the king was God. But she did David no great wrong, and received from him nothing worse than a scolding. In the parallel place (1 Chronicles 15:29) the matter is very lightly passed over; and the reason why it holds an important place in this book is that we have here a history of David's piety, of his sin and his punishment. In itself a slight matter, it yet makes us clearly understand the nature of David's feelings towards Jehovah. It is also most interesting in itself. For David is the type of a noble character under the influence of grace. Michal, too, is a noble character, but she lacked one thing, and that was "the one thing needful." The removal of the ark is a matter so important as to call for careful consideration. For the time it established two centres of worship - one with the ark at Zion, the other at Gibeon. The ark in Saul's days had been forgotten (1 Chronicles 13:3). It had long lain in the house of a simple Levite in the city of woods, and Saul's religious ideas were too feeble for him to be capable of undemanding the importance of establishing a national religion. Still, such as they were, they made him summon Ahiah, the grandson of Eli, to be his domestic priest (1 Samuel 14:3); and subsequently he even set up at Nob the tabernacle with its table of shewbread, and other holy furniture, saved somehow from the ruin of Shiloh, with Ahimelech as high priest (1 Samuel 21:1). But when in a fit of senseless jealousy he destroyed his own work, the nation was left for a time without an established religion. Gradually, however, this primary necessity for good government and national morality was supplied - how we know not; but we find a tabernacle at Gibeon, with the altar of burnt offerings, and the morning and evening sacrifice, and apparently the same service as that erewhile set up at Nob; only Zadok of the line of Eleazar is high priest (1 Chronicles 16:39, 40). He thus belonged to the senior line, while the last survivor of the race of Ithamar, Abiathar, Eli's great-grandson, was with David. Gibeon was in the centre of the tribe of Benjamin, some few miles from Jerusalem, with Nob lying halfway between; and probably Saul had permitted this restoration of Jehovah's worship at Gibeon, both because he half repented of his deed, and because the worship there was ministered by priests not allied to Ahimelech and Abiathar. But now the ark, which was Jehovah's throne, had been brought out of its obscurity, and solemnly placed in a tabernacle in Zion, with Abiathar, David's friend, the representative of the junior line, as high priest; and probably the only difference in the service was that David's psalms were sung to music at Zion, while the Mosaic ritual, with no additions, was closely followed at Gibeon. There was thus the spectacle of two high priests (2 Samuel 8:17), and two rival services, and yet no thought of schism. Zadok had been one of those foremost in making David king of all Israel (1 Chronicles 12:28); he and Abiathar were the two who moved Judah to bring David back after Absalom's revolt (2 Samuel 19:11). The whole matter had grown out of historical facts, and probably David always intended that Zion should absorb Gibeon, and be the one centre required by the Levitical Law. But he was content to wait. Had he acted otherwise a conflict would necessarily have arisen between the rival lines of the priesthood, and between Abiathar and Zadok, the two men who represented them, and who were both his true friends. We find even Solomon doing great honour to the tabernacle at Gibeon (2 Chronicles 1:3, etc.), but after the temple was built it passed away; and the race of Ithamar, weakened by the calamity at Shiloh, and still more by the cutting off of so many of its leading members at Nob, never recovered itself after Abiathar was set aside by Solomon for taking part with Adonijah. The line continued to exist, for members of it returned from Babylon (Ezra 8:2); but though it produced a prophet, Jeremiah, it never again produced a high priest, and therefore only the line of Eleazar, to which Ezra himself belonged, is given in 1 Chronicles 6. Thus Abiathar's misconduct and the growing fame of Jerusalem put an end to all fear of schism. We easily trace in the Psalms the increase of the nation's regard for Zion. In Psalm 24, written probably by David to celebrate the entry of the ark thither, it is simply "the hill of Jehovah... his holy place." In Psalm 9. it is "his dwelling," but in Psalm 20. a higher note is struck. Zion is "the sanctuary" whence Jehovah sends "help" and "strength;" and in Psalm 48, written at a later date, Zion is found installed in the very heart of the people's love. Thus the Divine blessing rested fully upon David's work. To Jehovah's worship he gave a grand and noble centre, which from his day has had no rival, unless it be in some respects Rome. The city of David's choice has been, and continues to this hour to be, the most holy spot upon earth alike to the Jew and to the Christian, though to the latter it is so because of David's Son. At Zion, moreover, David's spiritual addition to the Mosaic ritual has given the Church its best book of devotion and the brightest part of its services; forevery hymn sung to God's glory, and every instrument of music played in God's house, is but the continuance of the prophesying with harp, psaltery, and cymbal (1 Chronicles 25:1), first instituted by David, though, like all that was best in David personally and in his institutions, it grew out of Samuel's influence and the practices of his schools (1 Samuel 19:20). Finally, the temple services were doing much to weld the discordant tribes into one nation, and would have succeeded in so doing but for the unhappy degeneracy of Solomon's latter years, and the obstinacy of his son. Yet even so, Jerusalem remains forever a memorial of the genius and piety of this extraordinary man, and the symbol of "Jerusalem the golden, the home of God's elect."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child until the day of her death. The children she brought up for Adriel were not her own, but adopted ones, or Adriel's by another woman, 2 Samuel 21:8; however, she had none after this time, whatever she had before, and it does not appear that she had any, though the Jews say she was Eglah, and Ithream her son; see Gill on 2 Samuel 3:5. And thus she that vilified David brought a reproach upon herself, as barrenness was always reckoned, and no one descending from her arrived to royal dignity, and sat on the throne of David; and so it was ordered in Providence, as Abarbinel observes, that the seed of David and of Saul might not be mixed.
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