David. David was a national hero. He was handsome. He was a musician and
poet. He was a soldier who was successfully defending Israel from their
enemies. He was popular with the people. No teenager ever had a more heroic
object of her infatuation.
Michal wanted him, but he had been promised Merab her older sister as his wife. King Saul went back on his word and gave Merab to another.
When Saul was told that Michal loved David, he decided to use her as bait to get David killed. The dowry Saul requested from David ought to ensure his death at the hands of the Philistines. Collecting bloody trophies from 100 dead Philistines ought to be beyond even David's reach. But David came back alive with 200 bloody trophies.
Now Saul became more afraid of David. He feared David's popularity; David's invincibility in battle, and now he feared the love his daughter had for David. This marriage would give him a legitimate claim to the throne. If David chose to try to overthrow Saul's government, he had the support he needed. Even Samuel the Prophet had warned Saul that God would not allow his sons to rule after him. (I Samuel 13:13-14)
Once again Saul took matters into his own hands instead of trusting and obeying God. He tried to spear David while he played the harp and sang for him. He missed. Then he arranged an ambush to kill him. But Michal found out about the scheme and helped David escape.
To avoid her father's anger and to keep her position in the royal family, she lied about David's actions and character. She didn't love David enough to protect and defend his reputation with her father. She was her father's daughter after all. Do whatever is expedient, right or not.
King Saul immediately gave Michal to another man as wife. Michal as David's wife was a liability to Saul, a threat to his reign.
Phaltiel, Michal's second husband, loved and cherished her. They may have had several years for love to grow between them. Perhaps the memory of David faded over time.
But once again, Michal becomes a pawn in the chess game of politics. She becomes Abnerís means of gaining favor with David, the new king. Her former husband insisted that she be returned to him as part of a military deal with Abner. She is abducted from her home, taken from the husband who loved her. Phaltiel followed weeping and pleading, but he didn't have the courage to stand up against Abner and David. (God's law forbade a man to take back the wife he divorced after she had remarried. Deuteronomy 24:1-4)
Michal couldn't depend on her father King Saul, her childhood sweetheart David, or her husband Phaltielís devotion to look out for her welfare. With Phaltiel she was a beloved wife; with David, she was one of many wives and a political asset. David never said that he loved her. The bitterness inside her grew. She began to despise David. She saw only a man who took the kingdom away from her family; who made no effort to prevent her being given to another man; and who stole her away from the one man who genuinely had loved her.
When she looked out the window at the celebration over the return of the ark of the covenant, David's joy intensified the disappointment, the loneliness, and the sorrow in her own heart. She responded with utter contempt for the man she once loved. The first chance she had she poured out all the bitterness she felt onto David. In her mind, David had ruined her life and she struck out at him to bring him down as low as she felt.
If David had any lingering affection for Michal, she destroyed it with her malicious words. They were never reconciled. She lived the rest of her life alone and childless.
Michal had no control over the circumstances of her birth or the attitudes of a society that dealt with women as if they were property and not persons with rights given by God. Michal did have control over her response to the injustices done to her. She chose retaliation instead of reconciliation. What if she had called out to God and turned to him, perhaps God would have rescued her as he did Sarah when Pharaoh took her. Even if the circumstances of her life remained the same, she could have received the strength from God to not only endure, but to be content. If she had forgiven all the people who had wronged her and failed her, she could have turned her energies into serving Israel as its Queen. Allowing bitterness to control her response only made her life more barren.
References: I Samuel 18:1-28; 19:11-24; 25:44; II Samuel 3:1-20; 6:1-23; Deuteronomy 24:1-4
For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Root of Bitterness