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  18th June, 2000

Popular Leader, Poor Husband
2 Samuel 6:12-23

Australians enjoy their summer sport of cricket. We beat the rest of the world at this field game, which is played throughout the former British Empire. Few Australians have received such adulation in recent decades as Shane Warne. Selected as a member in the Team of the Century, Shane Warne is the world's outstanding spin bowler. His flair and larrikin attitude made him our most popular current cricketer. Sport has made him extremely wealthy, well known and popular. He is never far from a headline.

The headlines this week would have displeased him. His behaviour in an English nightclub made front-page news in scores of newspapers. A young women he met, claims he kept harassing her with sexually explicit telephones calls seeking her sexual favours. At home were his wife Simone and their two children. Seeing the papers must have seared her heart. What will she be thinking as she looks at him when he returns home?

Why do some very popular men become such poor husbands? What does Hillary Clinton think of her husband after all the terrible revelations of his sexual relations with other women were slowly revealed through a series of court trials? What did Hazel Hawke think of her Prime Minister husband Bob, when she saw him basking in the glow of popularity when she knew he was committing adultery with the woman writing his biography? This is not a new phenomenon. It was passionately described in the relationship between King David and his wife Michal. She had done everything for him. Now he was showing off in front of other women.

1.David Centralises Authority In Jerusalem.
Jerusalem was built on the border between Judah and Israel. But the Jebusite city was tied to no tribe. It was neutral and central. Its virtual impregnability made it an ideal capital for David's newly established, united kingdom. David was determined to make Jerusalem his capital. Jerusalem is built on top of several mountains including Mt Zion. It is surrounded on three sides by steep valleys. At the bottom of the Kidron Valley water flows into the Pool of Siloam. King David offered any soldier the reward of being made commander of the army, if they found a way into the strongly walled city. Joab started in the Pool of Siloam and crawled and wriggled in the watercourse into the ground that fed the pool. In pitch black, he reached some shafts where water cascaded down upon him as a waterfall. One of these shafts is 37' high. He managed to climb up the shaft and along other fissures in the limestone until after climbing other shafts, he emerged in a well dug at the spring. At night, Joab, now inside the walls, opened the gates of the city and allowed David's men in. David subdued the inhabitants and established his own palace, commenced large public works, building up the sloping areas of the city, landscaping and building administrative centres. The kingdom was now unified.

2.David Centrsalises Worship In Jerusalem.
The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant, that mysterious gold covered box which contained the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments, some manna from the wilderness and Joshua's rod. David wanted that box for two reasons: its presence in his city would unify the people; and the people believed that whoever owned the box would be invincible in war.

David knew it was essential to have the most holy religious artifacts the tribes possessed in the new national capital. That would unify the people, and centralize their religion, in his city and under his oversight. David was settling in for a long reign.


3. David Grows Popular And Powerful.
As David and his men returned victorious after recapturing the Ark of the Covenant, they were met with cheering crowds dancing in the streets. 2 Sam 6:14 "David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets. They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD. After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes."

David may have expected his wife to be among the crowds cheering him. But he was wrong. In one of the most damning statements about a married couple, the Bible states frankly: "when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart." Michal had reasons too deep for public praise. She saw her husband as na´ve, uncouth, and perhaps, depending upon what she knew, unfaithful.

4. David Grows Into A Poor Husband.
When David the shepherd was given the task of playing soothing music to King Saul to ease his headaches, the younger of Saul's two daughters was attracted to him. She admired his victory over Goliath. She fell in love with David and married him. 1 Sam. 18:20-28 When her father, in one of his fits of rage and envy tried to kill David, Michal helped him escape. While David was an outlaw on the run, she did not see David for many years. Her father gave her away in marriage to another man. Later David formally reclaimed her as his wife. 2 Sam. 3:13-16 But they had became alienated.

On that day when the ark was brought in great triumph to David's City, the women celebrated with music and dancing. Michal, saw nothing but a humiliation of the royal dignity. 1 Chr. 15:29, 2 Sam 6:16 "As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart." Michal spoke to her husband sarcastically. 2 Sam 6:20 "When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and sarcastically said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" David tries to defend his action, claiming a spiritual purpose. 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. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor."

David's reply is arrogant. She was the daughter of the first King. She had been taught etiquette and culture. Despite his military victories, David was still an uncouth shepherd. He had lived for years in the caves of Judah. He had none of the refinements of the Court or even everyday culture and manners. Michal remained all her life childless. Whether that was the result of infertility or because their estrangement was such that they never had sexual intercourse resulting in pregnancy is not known.

Michal was evidently a woman of unusual strength of mind and decision of character. She showed her love in an age when it was an unheard-of thing for a woman to take the initiative in such a matter. For the sake of the man whom she loved she braved her father's wrath and risked her own life. Even her later mockery of David shows her courage. It suggests she resented being treated as a chattel and thrown from one husband to another. Modern readers understand her and the stress she would have been through.

David's treatment of Michal is less than exemplary. He was aware of his popularity and blessing by God, but personal awareness does not justify domestic wrongs. He was a popular leader but a harsh and unfeeling husband to the woman who has loved him and saved his life. It is not only David, Bill Clinton, Bob Hawke and Shane Warne who have behaved in such a way that their wives have despised them in their hearts. Many listening to my voice now feel a regret at past behaviour and present attitudes. Men who hold positions in the public eye and who hold the applause of the people are particularly vulnerable to behaviour that alienates the one who loves them most.

How Can A Popular Man Be A Better Husband?

Some suggestions may help us:
. A husband must learn to communicate with his wife. When communication ends, the marriage dies. Until the final meeting between Michal and David, at no point is there any dialogue between them. Avoiding talking together is particularly noticeable in the Bible, where such a large part of the narration is taken up by dialogue. When they eventually do talk, it is an explosion!

. A husband must learn to honour his wife and affirm her publicly. The crowds must know and understand the special love he has for the one who enables him to do so much. She is his partner. He must be proud of her. And she must share in his public acclaim.

. A husband must learn to act responsibly to the applause of the crowd. He can go overboard in his actions to gain more applause. Countless men, affected by alcohol, think they are the life of the party, and the best dancers or singers ever. But their sober wives see with different eyes. They see how stupid their husbands have made themselves. Michal looked with sober eyes!

. A husband must spend time with his wife privately. A popular leader can find the public comes between him and his wife so private times must be safeguarded.

. A husband must ensure totally loyalty to his wife while they are apart. There is no room for misbehaviour. It is a psychological sickness that makes a leader think he needs extra attention of others and can behave above what is normally expected or is the law for ordinary people.

. A husband in the limelight will need to apologise and repent of thoughtlessness when she is hurt.

. A husband must ensure his behaviour is always such that nothing reported back to his wife can give her grounds for imagining the worst. Imagination can create a sin where none exists, if it is fueled by thoughtless behaviour.

. A husband must take the lead in ensuring the spiritual lives of them both, and their children, are enriched by their devotion to God. This must be expressed through private devotions, Bible reading and prayer and through their public worship together.

Can wives prevent popular leaders becoming poor husbands? Can women also act in such a way as to ruin marriages and cause their husbands to despise them? Yes,but they are matters for another occasion. We have enough problems right now with the King Davids, Bob Hawkes, Bill Clintons and Shane Warnes of this world to concentrate today on the faults of the women. The key point for every man is that he model his life upon that of Jesus Christ. He never shamed a woman, never put a woman down or disgraced Himself in their company. He always acted in such a way to bring credit to God and Himself. The man who commits his life to following the way of Jesus is walking in the right direction. Pattern your life upon His manhood, and you will always be right, both in the eyes of God, and those who love you. It is hard to be a popular leader and a good husband. But the man who follows Jesus, walks in the right way. Nothing is more important than committing yourself to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, mentor and model.

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Rev Dr Gordon Moyes

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