When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel-I will celebrate before the LORD." - 2 Samuel 6:20-21
The Torah portion for this week is Shemini, which means "eighth," from Leviticus 9:1-11:47, and the Haftorah is from 2 Samuel 6:1-7:17.
In this week's Haftorah reading, the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Jerusalem in a procession that is described by Scriptures as being exceptionally jubilant. In particular, King David is described as "leaping and dancing before the LORD" (2 Samuel 6:16). In his passionate desire to demonstrate his love for God, David danced unabashedly. However, when David returned home, his wife Michal, daughter of the former King Saul, had some words with him.
Michal greeted her husband by scolding his behavior: "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" Michal was the daughter of royalty. She was keenly aware of how a royal figure should behave - and she found David's behavior completely embarrassing.
Now, listen to David's response: "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel-I will celebrate before the LORD." David pointed out that God took away the kingdom from King Saul and gave it to him. But what did Saul have to do with this particular incident? Why was this David's answer to Michal's criticism?
Do you remember why King Saul was rejected by God? In 1 Samuel 15 the prophet Samuel confronted King Saul who had been sent on a mission to completely obliterate the evil nation of Amalek, including their livestock. However, Saul allowed the livestock to live. After trying to explain his mistake away by saying that the cattle were spared in order to be used as sacrifices to God, Saul finally admitted his sin. He confessed in verse 24: "I have sinned. I violated the LORD's command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them."
It's quite simple; Saul cared more about what the people thought about him than what God would think. He feared men more than his God at that moment.
Now we can understand why this was David's response to his wife. He explained to her that while her father was diminished because he cared too much about what people thought of him, David would only be increased in God's eyes for putting aside concerns of how he might look before other people.
That's a good lesson for us. When it comes to the end of our days, we'll only have to answer to God. Let's make Him the chief observer of our lives and live only to please Him - no matter what anyone else might think. That's called living with integrity - and it is most befitting of Gods' royal children.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President