Michal was married to Paltiel and he clearly loved her, so why was David allowed to take her back?
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Michal was David's wife, originally given to him by her father Saul. Saul wished the marriage to become a snare to David, but David's humility kept him from accepting the offer (I Sam 18:12-23). Saul overcame David's refusal by asking a bride price, 100 Philistine foreskins, for Michal's hand in marriage. (I Sam 18:23-35). David didn't stop at one hundred, he actually killed two hundred philistines. (I Sam 18:25-26) This won him the hand of Michal, but also terrified King Saul at David's success against the Philistines (I Sam 18:26). Later, Saul's jealousy and enmity with David grew to such a point that he sought to kill David directly. Rather than being a snare to David, Michal actually saved his life at this point (I Sam 19:11-17). Jonathan saved him a second time. David was forced to flee from Saul and hide, eventually seeking shelter in the cave of Adullam. During this period, Saul gave Michal in marriage to Pelti (I Sam 25:44). This marriage to Palti was invalid in the eyes of God, as David and Michal were still married. There is actually a rather sweet rabbinical tradition that holds that Peltiel sought to honor God, and so never slept with Michal even though she was his wife, to the point of threatening to kill which ever of the two of them initiated such an unjust act. While scripture does not go into such explicit detail, it is implied that Palti acted nobly: The next time Palti is mentioned, his name referred to as Paltiel (Pelti + El). Palti means "escape", but Paltiel means "deliverance of God". This changing of his name is honorific, implying some service or devotion to God to commend him. Also, there seems to be some nuance with the Hebrew that implies Paltiel acted in a chaste manner. In 2 Sam 3:15 the word for husband is 'ish' and 2 Sam 3:16 the word is 'isha'. Apparently, this term isha is more feminized, and can mean husband or 'a woman', implying that Paltiel acted 'as a woman' towards Michal rather than as a man. David eventually found himself in a position to demand the return of his wife in the forming of a political alliance with Abner. (II Sam 3:12-21) As his claim, he points out that #1 She is his wife, #2 he paid for her with 100 philistine foreskins (200, actually) that had been presented to King Saul. This pointed out to Abner not only the justice of David's request, but was to remind Abner of his military might. In II Sam 3:15-16 where it describes Michal being sent back to David, it speaks of Paltiel following after and weeping. His mourning implies that he loved her very much - whether as a wife or as a sister we do not know. Even if the jewish tradition is true that he never slept with Michal, there would likely have been a deep attachment between the two at that time. It is important to recognize that any sexual act between Paltiel and Michal would have been adultery. David had never divorced Michal. Had he done so, then his later actions would have been a disgrace (Jer 3:1). Beyond the Lord's anointing and beyond the justice of reclaiming his wife, David's marriage to Michal gave him a legal claim to the throne, so it was important that he move to take her back.
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