Michal was the daughter of Saul, first King of Israel. She was the younger of two daughters. In 1 Samuel 18, we are told that Saul proposed to have David marry his older daughter, but David refused and the older daughter was married to someone else. We are also told that Michal loved David.
Saul, thinking to benefit thereby, decided to marry Michal to David, hoping to use her against David, so he arranged for people to talk to David and convince him to marry Michal. He thought Michal would be a snare to David (as so many wives can be). Eventually, he succeeded and David married Michal. But she was not a snare, she was a good wife who loved her husband, so much so that Saul came to fear what he had done. "But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, Saul was even more afraid of David."
Michal became a great strength to David, it appears, and convinced him to flee in order to avoid Saul's trap against him. She "let him down" from his house (to avoid Saul's watchers) and made up an image to lie in bed and appear to be him, giving him time to escape. Eventually, after he escaped, she was sent to be wife to another man, Palti, we are told in 1 Samuel 25.
When David returned, after Saul's death, his price for peace was the return of Michal, a measure of his love for her despite his marrying several other women during the time she was gone. We are told that he refused to negotiate with Abner unless Michal was returned to him. We are also told that her second husband was distraught over losing her and that he wept and followed her until he was forced to leave by Abner. 2 Samuel 3:12-16.
It is a wonderful story, isn't it? She loved her husband. She loved him more than she loved her father and more than she loved her own life. She was precious to him (he insisted on her return) and she saved his life. When she was forced to take a second husband, she was also apparently an Excellent Wife to him as well, as he abandoned all dignity and followed her, weeping at the thought of losing her.
She was, and is, a great inspiration in a time where a woman had no real choice in where she went. She loved her husband and was a great benefit to him. Yet, she is not known for any of these things. She is known for a final failing.
In 2 Samuel 6, we are told that David danced before the Ark of God as it was brought into the city, wearing only a linen ephod. Michal "despised" him for behaving in such a way and confronted him. He responded that he was honoring God who had chosen him and would do so even if she despised him.
That is what we all remember. We remember the one moment in her life where her love for her husband failed because of her pride. She was distressed by his behavior and by what she perceived as the lewdness of his dancing before other women. Her words are remembered, even though the rest of her life is not remembered at all. It is unfair and sad that this is the case.
David is not primarily remembered for his sin of adultery and murder. Abraham is not primarily remembered for his sin of lying or fathering a son with a servant girl. But Michal's service is forgotten in her moment of weakness.
So what do we take from the story of Michal? We learn the truth that an Excellent Wife, like everyone, must be careful of falling. Michal loved David and was a faithful wife to her philandering husband, even accepting his multiple marriages and his years of absence. If not for one error, we would remember her well and she would be in all the Bible studies we write on being a good wife.
What will people remember of you? Will they remember your years of faithfulness and love? Or will they remember a moment of weakness and failure? Stay strong in your faith, stay faithful in your love.