2 Samuel 6:20-22
Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said…
The history of Michal is rather an unhappy one. In early life she became enamoured of David, to whom she was reluctantly given by her father. Afterwards, when Saul became the enemy of David, she was given to another, from whom, after many years, she was torn by her first husband, more, probably, from policy than affection. It is likely she had no warm affection for him now. She may have resented his succeeding to her father's throne. She had no sympathy with his religious zeal. Probably she originally admired the hero rather than loved the saint; and now that his fervour in religion has so strangely displayed itself, she can contain herself no longer. She felt herself - a king's daughter - disgraced by his vulgar conduct; and she resolves to tell him her mind about it; and so, as he returns to his house in joyous religious excitement, eager to bless his family, as he had just blessed the people, she meets him with bitter reproaches, to which he, surprised and mortified, returns a bitter answer, in which are, nevertheless, good reasons for his conduct.
I. HER REPROACH. It was in substance that his conduct had been undignified and indecent. The charge was plausible, but unjust. Her anger and want of sympathy with her husband's zeal led her to misrepresentation of proceedings which were innocent and praiseworthy. Similar lack of sympathy with ardent piety often leads to similar unjust judgment. Many are ready to condemn modes of expressing or promoting religion which are foreign to their own habits. But what would be unsuitable and unprofitable to one class of persons may be the reverse to another; and what would not be suitable as an ordinary practice may be allowable and commendable under special circumstances. In times of general excitement men will do what would be ridiculous at other times. Zacchaeus climbed a tree to get a good view of Jesus, regardless of dignity and the possible ridicule of the crowd; and he was rewarded for it. David would not have displayed his zeal by leading the multitude in music and singing and dancing under ordinary circumstances. Reproach and condemnation are to be estimated partly according to the persons who utter them. Many who are ready to do so are incapable of passing just judgment, on account of a total or partial want of religion. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). And some who are not destitute of religion are so contracted in their views and feelings that they are unable to estimate rightly the religion of others. John the Baptist practised abstinence, and was said to have a demon. Jesus lived as ordinary men, and was condemned as a glutton and winebibber. The apostles on the Day of Pentecost were said to be "full of new wine." Those who are fond of orderliness and dignity in religion are prone to condemn all kinds of excitement and the freedom of form and expression which it favours. Bat it is possible to sacrifice efficiency to order. While the lovers of order and good taste are exclusively indulging their preferences, multitudes may be left uncared for and untouched. When, therefore, by means which are thought objectionable, they are attracted and benefited, the objectors may properly be asked to find and employ better methods which shall answer the same end; and meanwhile to bear with, yea, thank God for, those who are doing a good work in a manner which they cannot wholly approve. On the other hand, those who love and employ excitement and freedom may well be warned lest they frustrate their aim to save men by using means inconsistent with that reverence and thoughtfulness which are essential to true religion, and lest they unjustly condemn their fellow Christians who pursue their ends by calmer methods. There are room and need for variety of modes of worship and activity with one spirit and aim. Let us not condemn those who, in the Name of Jesus, are really casting out evil spirits, and bringing men to a right mind, though they do not follow with us (Luke 9:49, 50).
II. DAVID'S REPLY. It was severe, and likely, as it was doubtless meant, to sting. Notice:
1. His defence. That what he had done he had done for Jehovah.
(1) Him who in himself was worthy of all possible honour and public praise and confession.
(2) Him who had chosen and exalted him, in the place of Saul and his house, to be ruler over his people. Piety and gratitude combined to impel him to rejoice before the Lord on an occasion so remarkable and auspicious. All of us have similar reasons for honouring God to the utmost of our power. In view of them, the most ardent zeal for the worship of God and the promotion of his kingdom is justified, and cold and measured service stands condemned.
2. His determined resolve. To do as he had done. Yea, to surpass his recent displays of zeal for the Lord. If this was accounted vile, he would be viler still; if this were to lower himself, he would sink lower still. Similar should be the effect upon us of the reproach which fervent piety may subject us to. If, indeed, objection be made to some of the ways by which we show it, we should reconsider them, especially when the objection comes from Christian brethren; but undeserved reproach should stimulate us to greater devotedness and more resolute determination.
3. His assurance of honor. From "the maidservants" of whom Michal had spoken so disparagingly. He virtually appealed from her judgment to theirs. What just foundation is there for satisfaction in the approval of the humbler classes?
(1) They may be more capable of right judgment in matters of religion than many who are above them in worldly condition, and even in general education and intelligence. They may have more spiritual susceptibility and fewer prejudices. They may feel more their ignorance, and be more humble and teachable. They at least know what does them good, which is the end of all religious ministrations. Hence they are often right when their scorners are wrong. Our Lord was accepted and listened to gladly by many of the common people, while few of the upper and the learned classes received him; and he rejoiced and thanked his Father that, while the truths he taught were hidden from "the wise and understanding," they were revealed unto "babes" (Luke 10:21). And in the early Churches St. Paul tells us that there were "not many wise after the flesh, or mighty, or noble;" but that these were put to shame by the weak and despised (1 Corinthians 1:26-28).
(2) The good of the humbler classes is to be sought. To secure this end they must be interested, and their approval won; and he who can, without unworthy arts, succeed in winning them so as to lead them to Christ, may well rejoice and he thankful. David's language may be in substance adopted by preachers who are despised because approved and followed by the common people; while the ministry or Church which fails to lay hold of them ought to mourn and reconsider its spirit and methods. To conclude:
1. It is an unhappy thing when man and wife differ radically in matters of religion. It deprives them of the unspeakable benefits of mutual sympathy and helpfulness. It is the occasion of dispute and unhappiness, if not settled alienation. It hinders very seriously the religious and moral education of the Children. Let these things be thought of before the irrevocable steps are taken which bind two lives together.
2. There are worse faults in relation to religion than vulgarity, undue excitement, or eccentricity. These may be in some degree injurious, but indifference or hostility is fatal. - G.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
WEB: Then David returned to bless his household. Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, "How glorious the king of Israel was today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!"