Michal came running breathlessly and barged into the room of Mehrab and gaspingly said: Hi Sis, did you know that the curly ruddy boy called David, had killed Goliath? And daddy has promised your hand to anyone who killed Goliath. So lucky! Women and girls, all over the cities, towns and villages, are screaming that David had killed his ten thousands and our dad his thousands! You would be lucky to be married to a courageous and capable person like David! “
Mehrab chid Michal and said, “Are you out of your mind? These are promises made by Kings before winning. Once the battle of won, Dad wouldn’t waste his time in keeping his promises. In any case who wants to get married to a skilled shepherd? No breeding and he wouldn’t know how to treat a princess. We are princesses and the whole Israel is looking up to us, why should we surrender to mere skill? Skill is at our beck and call. And you say that he belongs to the Tribe of Judah, which in any case might carry the traits of the tribe – unsophisticated and forceful. But tell me, Michal, does not our tribe of Benjamin have the best slingers? So why should dad have nominated that shepherd boy for the contest?”
Michal was surprised at the impudence of her sister and asked Mehrab, “So what is it that you want?”
Have you seen Adriel? That sophisticated Son of that nobleman Barzilai, who financed our dad in his campaigns? That Adriel, whom we met the other day in one of those dinners before dad went on a campaign to Philistia. He just captivated my heart with his suave manners and polished talk- why would i marry a slinging shepherd?
Michal interjected and said, “But you see David is courageous and took on a man twice his size and an established champion of the sinewy Gathites! And do you know Sis: David cut off his head with Goliath’s own sword and brought it to dad, as proof. He can protect us from any other man.”
Mehrab said, “Us?” That’s just the duty of the many soldiers who maintain our security in service of our Dad, are you getting carried away by that ruddy fellow? Be careful of these rough and tough types, Princess are safe in houses of wealth, not in a house of swords!”
Michal was relieved and happy, she told Mehrab: “So if you are not going to accept David, let me be the trophy for his victory over Goliath.”
Mehrab said, “Go get your head checked, where is the need for all of this excitement? We have our brother Jonathan and he would be the king after our dad, would he be pleased to have a shepherd boy as his brother in law or would he prefer a nobleman like Adriel? If you want, you can have David.”
Meanwhile Michal had been spreading the word that she was besotted with David and had, during one of those dinners told her dad Saul that Mehrab doesn’t want to marry that David whom she calls a ‘shepherd boy’! Saul was so proud of Mehrab, what a true blue princess daughter, but nevertheless asked Mehrab, “but i had promised my daughter in marriage to the Victor of that battle with Goliath!”
Mehrab said: Dad, you had promised only a daughter, Michal is all in for that slinging shepherd, and let out a guffaw.
Saul was relieved, but he wanted to take full advantage of that alliance. Meanwhile Jonathan was also getting friendly with David and each day, Jonathan was taking an invisible step away from his father’s throne, whereas David was inching his way to Saul’s throne. Saul could sense that and was apprehending that David, who could withstand him, despite his kingship, would definitely decimate Jonathan. But how could Saul convey to Jonathan that David should be used for the state’s purpose in the name of institutional duties, but all credit should be channelised to the personal credit of the King and his family? Despite his best efforts, Jonathan wouldn’t understand and Saul saw that he was ranged against two from his own household – Michal and Jonathan. Saul noticed that Jonathan was even informing of the decisions taken by his father, which were meant to secure the kingdom for Jonathan. How to make a perverse son understand that as a Prince he has to keep himself above affections and do promptly those which have to be done. In exasperation Saul when he found that Jonathan had sneaked Saul’s resolve to terminate David, called his own son: “Thou son of a perverse and rebellious woman” – but not without a reason, all because Jonathan thought that he loved David as his own soul, but the fact was Jonathan forgot that he was the crown prince and David could be his only challenger other than Adriel, and Ishbosheth from Saul’s family!
The imperious Mehrab was right, David knew where to keep his relationships.
Michal, another princess and wife to David, scolds David for having danced naked like a vain man when the Ark was being restored, the unparalleled KJV captures the imperious indignation of a princess thus:
How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
And David’s answer is no less withering:
It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD.
Saul and Mehrab saw it coming, Michal got carried away, but continued to live out her life as a reclaimed spouse of David; and Jonathan was a fool! Fool not because he frittered away his opportunity by not letting his father Saul, who knew the machinations of David, settle scores with David; if Esau sold his birthright for the ruddy porridge, Jonathan offered himself as a sacrifice in the altar of the brilliance of David, much before the succession battles began. The fool admits to David, or so the winner writes his own story, that David would be the king and begs for mercy much before it was due! Read the following and wonder why a prince who is helping a fugitive, beg the fugitive for being merciful to not only him but to his generations later?
And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not:
But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.
Despite all these so called covenants, what happened in a dispute between Mephiboseth and Ziba, his servant? David without wanting to ascertain the facts, divides all the properties of Mephiboseth equally and his servant Ziba walks away with one half! Ishboseth the other son of Saul, when betrayed by Abner, did this covenant come in the way of David restoring to Ishboseth his kingdom? No, never. David plays to the gallery by executing cruelly the two servants who behaved Ishboseth!
Because, David was a man who wanted to be the King and he had it in him to take prompt action he was not carried away by vain purposeless words. But Jonathan and Michal lived in a state of “entitlement” – entitled to the kingdom, by virtue of their father, but David believed that if one wants to rule, he has to have his hands strengthened by war. Read Psalm 144 – and God strengthens one’s hands by taking one through a series of challenges and unless one submitted to each of those processes, there would be no substance and permanence to his ability to face challenges and achieve.
Like Jeremiah puts it poignantly:
If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?
Jonathan was wearied when he ran with footmen, how could he have run with horses? David perennially strengthened himself by running with horses and outran every horse and every mare! Redeemed his name from those sullying infractions which he had committed for timely benefits; and trusted in himself and gave all glory to God!
So the story of the Princesses ends in the most confusing note: the factual biblical contradictions are reconciled through minor factual tweaking. Whether Michal has children of her own or whether Mehrab died leaving behind five sons, to whom Michal became the adopted mother – needs much better reconciliation. In a gist, Saul lost his connection with God and his daughter Michal and son Jonathan worked at cross purposes with that of their father Saul and it became a ‘house divided’ – in Jesus’ terms, so HOW COULD IT STAND?