Verses 11–17

Here is, I. Saul’s further design of mischief to David. When David had escaped the javelin, supposing he went straight to his own house, as indeed he did, Saul sent some of his guards after him to lay wait at the door of his house, and to assassinate him in the morning as soon as he stirred out, 1 Sam. 19:11. Josephus says the design was to seize him and to hurry him before a court of justice that was ordered to condemn him and put him to death as a traitor; but we are here told it was a shorter way they were to take with him: they were ordered to slay him. Well might David complain that his enemies were bloody men, as he did in the psalm which he penned at this time, and upon this occasion (Ps. 59:1-17), when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him. See 1 Sam. 19:2, 3, 7. He complains that swords were in their lips.

II. David’s wonderful deliverance out of this danger. Michal was the instrument of it, whom Saul gave him to be a snare to him, but she proved to be his protector and helper. Often is the devil out-shot with his own bow. How Michal came to know the danger her husband was in does not appear; perhaps she had notice sent her from court, or rather was herself aware of the soldiers about the house, when they were going to bed, though they kept so still and silent that they said, Who dost hear? which David takes notice of, Ps. 59:7. She, knowing her father’s great indignation at David, soon suspected the design, and bestirred herself for her husband’s safety. 1. She got David out of the danger. She told him how imminent the peril was (1 Sam. 19:11): To-morrow thou wilt be slain. As Josephus paraphrases it, she told him that if the sun saw him there next morning it would never see him more; and then put him in a way of escape. David himself was better versed in the art of fighting than of flying, and had it been lawful it would have been easy for him to have cleared his house, by dint of sword, from those that haunted it; but Michal let him down through a window (1 Sam. 19:12), all the doors being guarded; and so he fled and escaped. And now it was that, either in his own closet before he went or in the hiding-place to which he fled, he penned that Ps. 59:1-17, which shows that, in his fright and hurry, his mind was composed, and, in this great danger, his faith was strong and fixed on God; and, whereas the plot was to slay him in the morning, he speaks there with the greatest assurance (1 Sam. 19:16), I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning. 2. She practised a deception upon Saul and those whom he employed to be the instruments of his cruelty. When the doors of the house were opened in the morning, and David did not appear, the messengers would search the house for him, and did so. But Michal told them he was sick in bed (1 Sam. 19:14), and, if they would not believe her, they might see, for (1 Sam. 19:13) she had put a wooden image in the bed, and wrapped it up close and warm as if it had been David asleep, not in a condition to be spoken to; the goats’ hair about the image was to resemble David’s hair, the better to impose upon them. Michal can by no means be justified in telling a lie, and covering it thus with a cheat. God’s truth needed not her lie. But she intended hereby to keep Saul in suspense for a while, that David might have some time to secure himself, not doubting but those messengers would pursue him if they found he had gone. The messengers had so much humanity as not to offer him any disturbance when they heard he was sick; for to those that are in this misery pity should be shown; but Saul, when he heard it, gave positive orders that he should be brought to him sick or well: Bring him to me in the bed, that I may slay him, 1 Sam. 19:15. It was base and barbarous thus to triumph over a sick man; and to vow the death of one who for aught that he knew was dying by the hand of nature. So earnestly did he thirst after his blood, and so greedy was his revenge, that he could not be pleased to see him dead, unless he himself was the death of him; though awhile ago he had said, Let not my hand be upon him. Thus when men lay the reins on the neck of their passions they grow more and more outrageous. When the messengers were sent again, the cheat was discovered, 1 Sam. 19:16. But by this time it was to be hoped that David was safe, and therefore Michal was not then much concerned at the discovery. Saul chid her for helping David to escape (1 Sam. 19:17): Why hast thou deceived me so? What a base spirit was Saul of, to expect that, because Michal was his daughter, she must therefore betray her own husband to him unjustly. Ought she not to forsake and forget her father and her father’s house, to cleave to her husband? Those that themselves will be held by no bonds of reason or religion are ready to think that others should as easily break those bonds. In answer to Saul’s chiding, Michal is not so careful of her husband’s reputation as she had been of his person, when she makes this her excuse: He said, Let me go, why should I kill thee? As her insinuating that she would have hindered his flight was false (it was she that put him upon it and furthered it), so it was an unjust unworthy reflection upon him to suggest that he threatened to kill her if she would not let him go, and might confirm Saul in his rage against him. David was far from being so barbarous a man and so imperious a husband, so brutish in his resolves and so haughty in his menaces, as she here represented him. But David suffered both from friends and foes, and so did the son of David.