I Samuel 18:17-30 David’s Rise, Michal, And Saul’s Failures.
Saul had committed to giving his daughter to whoever defeated Goliath, whom one would assume would be his oldest Merab. It should not be assumed that daughters did not have a choice in the matter. David is humbled, but Saul breaks the engagement and gives Merab to another. They may have conspired together. In any case, Saul’s word could not be trusted. In acknowledging David’s victory Saul had no intention of simply honouring his word, rather he wanted to elevate David in the eyes of the Philistines that they might seek his death all the more (vv. 17-19).
We are not told here whether Saul also reneged on giving David riches or exempting his house from paying taxes. Today if one were granted the latter the former would be assured! It almost seems by contrast with Merab, that we are told that Michal, another of Saul’s daughters, loved David (v. 20a). However, clearly Saul only believed that Michal agreed to marry David, because Saul thought that in his daughter he had a mole, one who might be a snare to David, that the Philistines may be against him all the more.
Again, here we read of another double witness to Saul’s bearing of false witness, in that he states a second time to David that he would be his father-in-law when once should have been enough (vv. 20b-21). To ensure that he would have a supposed mole in Michal, Saul continued to conspire to assuage any misgivings that David might have, and to take advantage of the desire on David’s part to marry Michal Saul adds yet another condition besides the defeat of Goliath – no dowry but one hundred Philistines foreskins (vv. 22-25).
David complied with Saul’s condition by doubling the number of foreskins to two hundred (vv. 26-27). Saul had no choice but to give Michal to David in marriage. Saul was thus doubly defeated in his scheming. He had to acknowledge that the LORD was with David in his battles with the Philistines, and that Michal loved him (v. 28). For these reasons Saul was afraid of David so that he was more of an enemy than a trusted soldier. Nevertheless, when the Philistines rose up against the Israelites “David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed.” (v. 30)