The Distaff
She Despised Him in Her Heart

Deborah L. Rowen

There was much celebration that day in Jerusalem.

The Ark of the Covenant had been in the house of Obed-Edom for three months after a disastrous and unlawful transport that led to the death of Uzzah. The Lord had blessed the household of Obed-Edom and David had decided to bring the Ark up to the City. David and all the house of Israel brought up the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord with joy. As God helped the Levites who bore the Ark, they stopped to make generous animal sacrifices. David was clothed in special linens and he danced before the Lord with all his might to shouting, music and trumpets.

"And as the Ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul's daughter looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. So they brought the Ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And when David had finished offering burnt offerings and peace offerings he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. Then he distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israel, both the women and the men, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins. So all the people departed, everyone to his house. 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 today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!' So David said to Michal, `It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.' Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death" (2 Samuel 6:16-23).

David returned home from performing his duty before the Lord a joyful man. Michal, on the other hand, met him with ridicule and scorn. As she was watching out the window, "she despised him in her heart." How had she come to this point? How had Michal come to a state of mind where she despised the man she had loved (1 Samuel 18:20), the anointed King of Israel, the man her father and brother had loved also? David was a man who earned the respect and devotion of many people; a man chosen by God. But Michal had allowed her dark emotions to lead her down a path of ruin. She had no more children to the day of her death. Later, David delivered her five sons by Adriel the Meholathite to the Gibeonites for hanging (2 Samuel 21:8). Michal's baleful attitude toward her husband turned a day of worship into contention and turned a happy marriage into barrenness and tragedy.

Hagar is another woman whose harsh emotions of spite led to much hardship in her life.

In Genesis 16:4 we read: "So he (Abraham) went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes." Even a stay in the desert and a visit from the angel of the Lord did not change Hagar's jealous and unruly tongue toward Sarah. Learning by example, Ishmael, Hagar's son grew up to scoff at Isaac. Finally, banished to the wilderness with only bread and water, vulnerable to the elements with a child in her arms, she lost the bounty and comfort of Abraham's tents forever and gained a bush to lay her son under to die. Though blessed by God, Hagar's descendants continued their animosity toward Sarah's descendants throughout Biblical history. Hagar is another example of how spite can lead to one's ruin, poison succeeding generations, and change the course of history.

How can women guard their way against such ruin?

The Lord has admonished us to monitor our thoughts lest we travel the path of Michal and Hagar: "Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8). We are emotional creatures and must not be carried away by dark and crude thoughts that lead to regrettable words. It would have been better for Michal to have disciplined herself, turned away from the window, and found work for her hands. Better yet, she could have joined the other women of Israel and worshiped with them. A busy person has little time to dwell on the inadequacies of others while looking out windows. Likewise, Hagar should have counted her blessings and guarded her heart against the jealousy and spite that brought her to ruin.

If we fill our heart and thoughts with evil it will spew our of our mouth eventually. As our Lord said: "Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile the man" (Matthew 15:18). Even as the Gentiles, Michal and Hagar "became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:21). We should heed these sobering words of the Lord to Solomon: "The Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you: but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever" (1 Chronicles 28:9). Let us be careful not to let a thoughtless moment of meanness ruin our marriage as Michal did, or a lifetime of bitterness land us and our children in a desert of despair like Hagar.

In our daily lives we must read and think on things that will lift and edify ourselves away from evil intent. If dark thoughts are on your mind, "resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). If you are involved in a conflict, "be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19). If someone has displeased you "do not grumble against one another" (James 5:9) If you must speak in an atmosphere of ill will "let your words be few" (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

God has given speech to humans and one donkey. Let us at least be as prudent as the donkey who spoke no harsh words against the master who was beating him unjustly. (Numbers 22). And as the archangel Michael, let us bring no reviling accusation against anyone (Jude 9). Our best path may be to guard our words carefully, practice prudent speech, and fill our minds with the word of God that gives no place to evil: "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, puton tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another: even as Christ forgaveyou, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful" (Colossians 3:12-15).

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