Marc Chagall: David Saved by Michal from The Bible (1960)
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
The text does not think ill of David,
Dancing in his skivvies;
The crowd with him, all shouting, singing,
Cheer the ark's delivery;
For here's the presence of the LORD,
Who rescued them from slavery;
And now with David as the king,
There's surely cause for revelry.
But why is Michal in this tale,
In window all despising?
Is it his nakedness she chides
In what seems moralizing?
Or would she rather still be wed
To Paltiel, who loved her,
And grieved corrupting earthly power
Left her the one uncovered?
Another time, another window
Showed the love for him she had,
When David, by her cunning courage,
Fled from Saul, her father, mad;
But time and fortune make their mark,
Til Michal, window dressing,
Would rather that he loved again,
And be, for her, God's blessing.
Scott L. Barton
(See 2 Sam. 3:14-16 for the reference to Paltiel; and 1 Sam. 19:11 for Michal's earlier rescue of David from her father, Saul.; and 2 Sam. 6:20-23 for the conclusion.)
Here's a poem about Michal by the late Thomas John Carlisle, a friend from way back in Northern New York, whose prolific poetry surely helped inspire what I do in these poems each week
And Still I Wonder
And still I wonder
if his bringing me back
was just a power play
his right to the throne
since I was daughter of Saul --
or was there still
a spark of that deep love
he felt for me
and I for him back when
we both were young
and our experience
was meager but so full
of romance and of hope.
Thomas John Carlisle
Eve and After: Old Testament Women in Portrait
David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.
It was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lordhad gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. They brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the Lord. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.
+ + +
Gustave Moreau (1826-1898): The Tattooed Salome
One Wonders Where the Good News Lies
One wonders where the good news lies
When Herod's daughter won the prize
Of John the Baptist's head! I think -
Could Herod have, with less to drink,
Been prone to let John be released,
With words like, "Now desist, and cease
From your disturbing of the peace"?
Or, should we guard what, with caprice,
We swear? - because we might regret,
Like Jepthah, what our boasting gets?
Or does this warn of what will be
When truth to power is decreed?
Presumably, the end of John
Meant Jesus knew he could count on
Our inhumanity to reign
When threats, our better natures, drain.
And so he knew the course he'd take
Would end like John's, but he'd remake
The message - not brimstone and fire,
But grace that might the world inspire,
So even when his dance would end,
His love, his people would extend.
Scott L. Barton
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.