Childrens Bible Stories - Real ones that capture your heart

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Never underestimate the power of childrens Bible stories. Well-written ones can draw your child's heart and soul to God. Children's bible stories become the bridge that leads your child right to the Bible itself. That's what I did after reading these childrens Bible stories; I'd look up the references in the Bible to see how it was really documented there. Stories in the Bible are not always filled with multi-sensory details. That's not its purpose. And so it takes a talented and caring writer to bring those 3D details to us. The Story of Michal is just that: alive and real!

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MICHAL: The Daughter of a King Who Married a Shepherd

THE army of King Saul was returning home in triumph after a brilliant victory over the ancient enemies, the Philistines. News of the victory was carried far in advance of the returning soldiers to the city of Jerusalem, and all the streets of the city were decorated with flags and streamers of bright colors to celebrate a national day of rejoicing. The victory had been achieved by something like a miracle, the colossal accomplishment of a young shepherd boy, a stranger to the people of Saul's city. They had never seen or heard of him until, like a swift comet streaking the sky, at one stroke he became their greatest warrior. David, a shepherd boy of Bethlehem. Now he was coming to their city.

Through the gaily decorated streets rode Saul the king, leader of the victorious army, surrounded by his bodyguard, the sun flashing on their polished helmets, swords and shields; and around them dancing maidens swinging garlands, clashing cymbals and chanting a new song of victory.

"Saul has slain his thousands," sang the maidens.

"And David his ten thousands," responded the other singers.

Up the street they came, between crowds of happy onlookers, past the children waving palms of victory, under the streamers stretched from house to house. All eyes were on the marchers, but the one they looked for eagerly was not Saul the king but David the conquering hero.

On a balcony outside the palace, the women of the court, dressed in gorgeous robes of state, had assembled to greet their king.

In the front row, the Princess Michal, youngest daughter of Saul, leaned far over the railing eager to see the young hero.

"There he is," cried one of her maids-in-waiting. "Look, your Highness, look! The young lad borne upon the shield of victory, the big shield of the giant Goliath whom he slew."

Eagerly Michal pressed forward and looked down into the street. David, carried above the heads of the soldiers on the gigantic shield, smiled up at the beautiful girl. For a moment their eyes met, then he was swept on in the procession. Her father passed, and Michal waved and smiled at him, but her heart was with David far along the line of march, and David's heart was left behind in her keeping.

"Saul has slain his thousands," chanted the crowd.

"And David his ten thousands," was the answering song of victory.

To Michal the song brought pleasure, but to her father, Saul, it held a menace. Kings in those days won and held their thrones by valor and might. The song seemed to claim David as a mightier warrior than the king. Saul had conquered the Philistines, but at what price? The victory was turning to ashes. He became terribly jealous of the popular hero, afraid the people might place him at the head of a revolution, and decided something must be done to bind David in loyalty to the royal family. Saul's throne was the stake in this game, and for such a stake he would sacrifice everything.

The laws and customs of society were in his favor. Fathers were autocrats when Saul was king; daughters only humble servants of their fathers, who shaped and fixed their lives, particularly in marriage, and absolute obedience was expected and enforced.

Saul had heard the delicious piece of gossip whispered around the palace, that the Princess Michal had fallen in love with the shepherd David.

Of course, it might have been expected, for overnight the shepherd had become the warrior of the nation, but Michal found it difficult to conceal her love for David, and everybody knew it.

To end the threat of David's rivalry, Saul planned a trap to win him and hold him with bonds of love and duty.

King Saul summoned David to his presence.

Slim, upright, his head of auburn hair held erect, David stood before his king.

"Be valiant for me and fight the Lord's battles and, behold, I will give you for your wife my eldest daughter Merab," declared Saul.

Merab, not Michal whom he loved! David looked up at the king who held for his subjects the gift of life, or the penalty of death. Impossible to disobey the royal command.

"Who am I," replied David artfully, "and what is my life, or my father's family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to so mighty a king?"

But Saul persisted, and the marriage was planned. Then, for some reason secret to himself, the vacillating monarch changed his mind and married his elder daughter Merab to another.

Soon again the gossips of the court were busy whispering about the true love between Michal and David, and Saul was greatly troubled, for every hour David became more popular.

The taunting chant: "Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands," rang in the king's ears, and flashes of jealous fire ran through his veins. Never before, the people said, had so mighty a warrior, so great a hero appeared. Never before had a shepherd boy climbed to such glamorous heights. The love which Michal felt for him was magnified a thousand times in the hearts of the people.

Saul began to think about the possibility of death in connection with this dangerous rival. It would need to be a death appearing accidental, arranged for in advance.

Once again Saul summoned David, and the slim, straight lad bowed before the throne.

Most temptingly the king baited his trap.

"David, I will give you my daughter Michal, as your wife," Saul declared, "if--" and he paused--"if you will kill one hundred Philistines and bring me proof of their death."

Such a challenge to a daring young lover; the maiden he adored to be won by his strong right arm. The risk was appalling, but the prize great, and David did not hesitate for a moment. That night, with a handful of his comrades, he set out in haste, made a surprise attack on a company of Philistines, and returned to the king with proof that he had slain double the number required by Saul.

The king was confounded. Instead of causing the death of David, he had helped him to win another victory, and in addition would be obliged to fulfill his promise, for the king, exacting obedience to his commands from the people, also obeyed his own word.

Ascending the throne and assembling his court, the king commanded the presence of his daughter Michal.

The little princess entered the stately hall of audience, and fell on her knees at the foot of the throne, fear and wonder in her heart.

Why had her father sent for her? What did he wish of her? Like a loyal subject, Michal touched the step of the throne with her forehead and waited for the command of the king.

"Michal," he said, "it is my wish that you prepare to be married at once."

To be married! To whom? A king's daughter, she dared not hope to be allowed to marry her lover, the son of a shepherd. But to be obliged to marry another man! The girl's heart quivered with fear.

"I have decided," continued her father, "to give you in marriage to David of Bethlehem, for he has fulfilled the condition which I laid upon him."

Married to David! Could it be true? Covering her face with her mantle to conceal the glorious happiness in her eyes, Michal again touched the steps of the throne with her forehead and ceremoniously withdrew from her father's presence.

So the princess married the shepherd, and they set up housekeeping in Jerusalem.

But Saul was not content. The romantic marriage of their hero was received with enthusiasm by the people of Saul's kingdom. Higher than ever they valued the national hero, now a member of the royal family, and greater than ever before in the jealous heart of the king was the menace to his throne. Forever in his ears rang the taunting song, "Saul has slain his thousands, David his ten thousands." The boy was far too popular, too handsome, too winning, too successful. Tortured with jealousy, the king could not rest day or night.

And now he learned the unwelcome news that in addition to winning the princess for his wife, David had also won the undying love of Saul's son Jonathan, and they had vowed eternal friendship and brotherhood.

Unable longer to conceal his jealousy, Saul decided to arrest David and condemn him to death.

Perhaps it was Jonathan who secretly sent word of the royal intention to Michal, and, knowing the character of her father, the young bride was at once on the alert to prevent the king carrying out his will.

Watching, from a hiding place on the roof of their home, that night, Michal saw the soldiers of the king gather silently in the darkness in small groups, and encircle the house. Aroused at once to David's great danger, the brave girl made plans to defy the king.

Calling David quietly to the roof, Michal pointed out to him the hiding places of the soldiers, and whispered, "If you do not save yourself tonight, you will be dead tomorrow."

With no thought of the consequences to herself, or of what her father might do when he discovered she was responsible for the escape of his intended victim, Michal's one desire was the safety of the man she loved.

At midnight, in the darkened house, a window softly opened facing on the gardens. Behind it stood Princess Michal, watching, with an aching heart, while her David slipped over the sill. Noiselessly he lowered himself by a rope made of newly spun linen, and disappeared into the night-shrouded garden. She dared not call farewell. Silent, heart-broken, with only the remembrance of the passionate embrace before the window opened, the little princess waited tensely for a cry of alarm from the soldiers. All remained quiet. Her David had escaped to safety.

With a brave spirit the princess closed the window and turned back to the silent house. There was work for her to do, her part in the escape to finish. She must delay the soldiers' search of the house to give David time to reach the hills, far from the city. There he would be safe, for those were the hills where he had played as a boy. On those hills he had cared for his father's sheep. In their caves he could hide, and the king could not hope to find him.

Michal had formed an ingenious scheme to deceive the king's guard. With trembling arms she dragged from its pedestal a large statue, drew it into David's bedroom, lifted it on his bed, and dressed it in his sleeping-garments, with an embroidered coverlet over the feet.

The first ray of dawn brought an imperative knock at the door. Trembling but brave, Michal opened a window. An officer of her father's troops stood below, knocking on the door with the hilt of his sword.

"Who knocks?" called the princess.

"A message from the king," replied the officer.

"My lord David lies in his bed ill," Michal answered. "He cannot be disturbed. I will admit the king's messenger that he may see for himself."

Unbarring the door, the princess took the officer to David's room and, with finger on lip, pointed to the bed. There, beyond question, lay the still figure of a man. The officer gazed upon it and withdrew; calling his soldiers they marched back to the palace and reported to the king.

The king was furiously angry. In a rage, he ordered the officer back to David's house. "Bring him up on his bed, that I may slay him," Saul commanded.

Again the imperious knock at her door, and Michal, knowing that David was safely hidden in the folds of the friendly hills, accompanied the officer, and faced her angry father without flinching. He might kill her for deceiving him, but her husband was safe.

King Saul did not kill his daughter; he devised another fate for her. Michal would be allowed to live, but it would be a life of un-happiness. The king annulled her marriage to David, and gave her to Paltiel, a splendid man living in another part of the country. He learned to love the princess dearly, but he was not the love of her life; her heart remained with David.

Fourteen years passed. David always escaped the king's soldiers, and Saul was not satisfied. Never could he even catch up with the young hero and his faithful band of men. David's power grew, and he became both strong and desperate. There resulted a great battle, Saul and Jonathan were defeated and killed, and David was crowned king of Israel.

The shepherd king had never forgotten his girl bride. Calling for Abner, captain of his bodyguard, he said: "You may not see my face again until you bring to me Michal, the daughter of Saul."

Paltiel, Michal's second husband, was stricken with sorrow when Abner delivered the king's message, and Michal, though her heart was filled with joy at the knowledge that David still loved her, wept with grief for Paltiel. The crushed, faithful man followed her as far as he was allowed on the homeward way, grieving that he would look on her face no more.

How different from her expectations was Michal's return home. During the years of separation David was occupied with wars, military discipline, and the slow difficult formation of his kingdom; also he had married other wives, by whom he had children, and Michal was no longer alone in his affection; she returned as one of many women sharing his love. David the king was indeed a very different man from David the shepherd lad; the old boy and girl love could never be recaptured.

With gayness and dancing their romance had started. In singing and dancing it was drawing to a close.

After the crowning of David and his establishment in Jerusalem, his capital city, the king, always profoundly religious, decided to fulfil a vow he had made years before, that if he was victorious he would bring the sacred Ark of the Covenant, made by Moses in the wilderness, to its rightful resting place in a shrine erected in the city of God. A national day of rejoicing was proclaimed. Out from the city went a caravan of priests and soldiers to the little town of Gath-rimmon, where the Ark rested in temporary sanctuary, and back they came with it to Jerusalem.

On the shoulders of the Levites was carried the Ark, in the vanguard priests with silver trumpets heralded its approach, surrounded by an escort of thirty thousand troops. As they approached, King David met them, dressed in his purple robes of state, with maidens dancing and singing as they led the way into the decorated city. The streets re-echoed with songs of thanksgiving from the happy people lining the way. Once more the glory of the Shechinah would rest in their midst.

Carried away by the music of the silver trumpets, the songs of the multitude and the joy in his own heart, King David, "the sweet singer of Israel," cast away his robes of state, and clad in a white linen tunic, harp in hand, led the procession up the hill of Zion, dancing and singing before the Lord.

Michal, with the other women of the court looked down on the procession from the same balcony where fourteen years before she had first seen David, carried on the shield of Goliath--David, the national hero.

Now all was changed. David the king was also the husband of other women, and the disappointment and bitterness which burned in her bruised heart burst out of her control.

Forgetting that this was the day of David's great religious triumph, and the importance of the event he was celebrating; guided only by worldly consideration--for Michal was proud of her royal blood--the princess felt contempt for this simple man, singing and dancing in the public streets.

When the king returned to his palace, flushed with rejoicing that the victory of war was crowned by the religious victory of peace, Michal met him as he entered the door of his house.

"How glorious was the king of Israel today," she said, with a curl of contempt on her lips, "who uncovered himself in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants."

With quiet dignity David answered: "It was before the Lord, which appointed me ruler over the people of Israel. Therefore will I play before the Lord."

Apparently that was the last talk they had together. In punishment for her scorn and jealousy, David banished Michal from his presence.

The daughter of Saul, whose life opened with romance and love, ended in tragedy and solitude.

Bible References:

I Samuel 18:1-27.
I Samuel 19:11-18.
II Samuel 3:13-16.
II Samuel 6:12-23.

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