Ever read a Bible story and go, “Oh, that person! Why are they acting like that?” For years, that’s been my opinion of David’s wife, Michal. We only get a short glimpse of her in Scripture, but it isn’t a favorable impression…at least not to me. But opinions can change, and that’s happened when I read Jill Eileen Smith’s Biblical Fiction novel, Michal, Book 1 in the Wives of King David Series.
As mentioned already, I never liked Michal. She always seemed a little hard-hearted, selfish and whiny. And I’ll be honest, even after reading this book, that part hasn’t changed for me. But this novel went through Michal’s life in a way that had me rethinking my opinion. By the end, I was able to look at this women with more compassion. I loved how the author gave Michal the benefit of the doubt on most things. Obviously, Michal and David’s relationship was strained from King Saul’s obsession with wanting to kill David, and Smith did a good job of making the emotions that come with such a situation a believable part of the story. Talk about a family squabble! How did this affect Michal? Was she devastated by her father’s actions? Then there were the years of David’s banishment. If he was such a great warrior, why didn’t he take Michal with him or go back for her once he knew there was no coming back to the palace? Finally, Saul married Michal off to another man while David was left running for his life. The author suggested there was a 17 year or so gap between that time and when David became king, demanding Michal be returned to him. By that time, I truly believe both Michal and David were completely different people, shaped by their faith or lack of faith in God and how they coped with the latter years of Saul’s reign. To make matters worse, once David was in power, almost all her family was killed because of their association with the house of Saul. Before reading this novel, I had never considered the emotional devastation someone like Michal would have been caught in. What that woman went through in her lifetime! It was at this point in the book I truly understood how Michal appears to have acted so bitterly in the Scriptures.
Conclusion: I really felt this was a good book. Not because it had a happy ending, but because it outlined what possibly could have occurred in David and Michal’s relationship and was very believable. It focused on the emotional side of Michal’s life – and man, if only half of what the author portrayed was reality for this woman, I wouldn’t want to walk a day in her shoes! A truly tragic story. But as with all Biblical Fiction, it opens up another world to the reader and offers new ways to think of a familiar Bible story. I will always recommend a book that does such, and this is definitely one. But be warned, it can be heart wrenching at times. I highly respect the author for connecting readers to Michal’s story in an authentic, believable way. If you have ever read David’s story and had a hard time liking Michal, reading this book may help you understand this Biblical woman and the wars that may have raged in her heart.