Daughters in the Bible: Michal & Merab, Pawns in the kings game

King Saul reveled in his power and enjoyed wielding it over others.  He used his daughters as bargaining chips.

The name of his older daughter was Merab, and that of the younger was Michal.
{1 Samuel 14:49}

Saul had two daughters {and several sons} Merab was the oldest and then Michal was his younger daughter.

Saul used his daughters to bargain with David to get him to do what he wanted.  He promised his daughter, Merab, to David, believing that the Philistines would kill David in the process.

 Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!”

King Saul married his daughters as pawns

But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?”  So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.   {1 Samuel 18:17-19}

“A daughter of a king was too valuable to spend on a nobody like David, and when the time came that Merab should have been given to David, Saul married her to a man named Adriel for reasons unspecified in the biblical text.”  {Every Woman in the Bible}

Saul was probably surprised when David returned, but this young shepherd boy was definitely not worth giving his oldest daughter to in marriage.

So, Saul finally settled, after David had more than fulfilled every task set before him.  He

Michal married David and later helped David escape from her father

finally allowed his daughter Michal to marry David.  Then he realized how much the Lord was with David and his daughter loved her husband and it scared him.  He became afraid and more intent on killing David.

“Saul saw her love as a weapon to use in his secret campaign against David.  Saul imagined that “she may be a snare to him”, tripping David up and ridding Saul of a potential rival.  If Michal’s heart was broken in the process, well, that was of little consequence to Saul.”   {Every Woman in the Bible}

Saul set out to allow his daughter to snare David, but his anger only grew when she helped him instead.

When David danced before the Lord, Michal despised him

Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.  When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.   {1 Samuel 18:27-29}

Instead of helping his daughter, he just used her more.  Michal helped David escape and waited for his return, believing it would not be long before he returned to him.  But Saul continued to pursue David, who continued on the run, and eventually married other wives.

Saul then married Michal to another man, Adriel the Meholathite, and they apparently loved one another.  {Or at least grew to love one another.}

But once David became king, he demanded Michal be returned to him.  Not because he loved her and wanted her but because he wanted to wield his power and confirm his place as king.  Michal was used and discarded by both Saul and David.

After confronting David, Michal lived the rest of her life alone

“Like Saul, David showed an utter disregard for Michal’s feelings or desires.  David did not consult her when he demanded she be returned to him.”   {Women—the Life and Times}

“the men who used and discarded Michal were the very men in whom she should have been most able to trust.”   {Women—the Life and Times}

“Michal’s anger crystallized into hatred for David.  She saw him only through the lens of her own pain.”  {Women of the Bible study Bible}

Michal grew to resent David {and probably her father, Saul} for the way she was treated.  She allowed her love to turn to hate because she had been used as a pawn and discarded.

People often hurt us and it is easy to hold on to that hurt.  There are some people and situations that are more difficult to let go of than others.  But, we can become like Michal and allow anger and hurt to eat away and destroy us.

Or, we can become like Jesus and learn to forgive “seven times seventy” and show God’s kind of love to both our friends and enemies.

Which do you choose?


Michal and Merab's were pawns in the kings game #daughtersintheBible Share on X


Pictures courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org


  • Cristina Smars

    The story so sad. It makes my stomach feel sick.

    I think here

    Saul then married Michal to another man, Adriel the Meholathite, and they apparently loved one another.

    you meant to write Phalti the son of Laish.

    1Sa 25:44  But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.

    I like your analysis of why Michal despised David. I was wondering about that. Of course, it makes sense.

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