David, a great leader and champion, had a glaring personal failure with Bathsheba that involved deadly conspiracy and personal judgment for the entire nation. I believe this wound came at the time of his greatest victory of Goliath: David had an unhealed wound with women that struck his heart as a young vulnerable man because Saul failed to properly reward him as promised.
Saul was afraid of David. I’m uncertain as to whether or not David was aware of Saul’s hideous hatred and duplicity. I think not. To me, the scenario played out in a way that the young, vulnerable man, at the time of his emerging greatness, was wounded by personal betrayal. Saul said that David would marry his daughter Merab, become his son-in-law, claim his reward for valor as promised. But at the time of the wedding, Saul gave his daughter to someone else. During the entire season that Saul had David waiting, hat in hand, for this wedding day, he was secretly putting David into precarious places of battle hoping that David would be killed by the Philistines. Certain his play would work, as all overly optimistic schemers, Saul went ahead with plans to give Merab to a Meholathite name Adriel.
Merab means “increase.” Adriel means “God is my help.” It appears the arrangements were made and the wedding completed while David was on the front lines fighting Saul’s battles for him. The champion comes home exhausted for his much anticipated wedding day to discover that the king has given his promised bride to another man. Then, Saul plays the same, tired game all over again by sending David out to kill more Philistines in order to earn Saul’s daughter, Michal. After this incident, Saul drives David away and gives Michal to someone else in marriage!
Throughout his life, David’s interactions with women or involving women are all over-reactionary. His wound surfaces in these interactions, and the wound continues to plague his personal relationships. Sadly, when he becomes enamored with Bathsheba, he acts just like Saul, treating her husband to the same front lines assignment in hopes that her husband will be killed and allow him to marry her! As we say in FreedomMinistry, “we become like the people we refuse to forgive.” David became like Saul because of an unhealed wound concerning Merab and Michal.
Vulnerabilities in Victories
We are most vulnerable when we are confused or exhausted emotionally, and we are most confused or exhausted emotions immediately after crises, good or bad. It was not obvious to young David that his leader was a monster. He had no context for political intrigue or devious character. He couldn’t reconcile God’s great victory and Saul great jealousy. David took it personally and internalized the pain. He had no way of reconciling Saul’s attitude and actions, and he tended to respond to situations involving women with over-reactions thereafter.
Perhaps David was ever-after seeking his initial love, lost as powerfully as if she were taken by death – worse, lost to the arms of another man. Perhaps he toyed with women emotionally thereafter, never fully bonding for fear of having them taken away again. Perhaps this wound became a filtering system for all his relationships, protecting himself from a repeat performance of that debilitating pain.
How often do we see leaders victimized by their vulnerabilities in the times of victory and the celebration of victories? Fame and overwhelming attention for which they are unprepared or inexperienced leaves them emotionally confused by unmeasured expectations. How often does the amazing victory create a demand within the champion to “one-up” that one, pull another rabbit out of the hat, and create a greater breakthrough. How difficult is it for the unprepared to resist being redefined by the victory, losing sight of who they really are, altered by the moment in ways that blurs their identities!
In the midst of this identity crisis, David the shepherd-warrior-worshipper-champion anticipates the glowing glamor of being married to a king’s daughter only to be left outside the wedding chapel. Perhaps at that moment David slipped away into isolation to lick his wounds. Alone. Suddenly. Warriors confident in shouting out his courage couldn’t think of one thing to say to their comrade. They weren’t prepared to deal with a young man’s broken heart. They were silent. Dancers that celebrated “David has slain his ten thousands” had no ballet for such a personal turn of events. The silence mocked David, crushed his soul. The stark contrast of celebration and celibacy were overwhelming.
Victories turn up the volume on our vulnerabilities.