Why do we love David?
There are so many reasons not to.
A question might just as well be placed from the God side of the matter: ‘Why is this David a man after my own heart?’
Perhaps they are the same question.
We know YHWH’s portable throne, borne up by powerful angelic creatures, as ‘the ark of the covenant’. Liberated from the Philistine hands that had captured it and held it as a quaint Israelite relic for too many years, the ark is now brought up to David’s new city. Solemnity and hilarity mingle as the ark makes its slow voyage to the locale for which it seems destined.
The delight of it all drives the king to nearly mad rejoicing.
So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the LORD with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
This is not royal custom. Kings, so tradition dictates, are to lead in robed solemnity. Gravitas is the thing. Leave disheveled, revealing dancing to the commoners, among whom nothing really matters.
Michal, the late king Saul’s daughter and David’s wife, had been properly schooled in such realia. She knew both contempt for non-royal behavior and how to get her point across. While David was busy laughing with regular folk and distributing food among their families, she awaited the proper moment to deliver the full force of her special knowledge to the naive monarch who shared her bed.
As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.
They brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the LORD. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.
Then all the people went back to their homes.
David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, ‘How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!’
In the biblical literature as in life, contempt sets an embittered destination for the life that nurtures its curled lip and studied disdain. Things do not end well for Michal.
David, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength, willing to be abased if Yahweh might be hymned by heart of his people.
David said to Michal, ‘It was before the LORD, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD, that I have danced before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor./ And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
To this day, we love our odd king David, his manhood mindlessly exposed to onlookers as he dances frenzied praise before Yahweh, them, and us. We give his name to our sons.
Yet we struggle to pronounce Michal’s name.