Was David An Idol Worshipper?


Michal (David’s wife) took the household idol and laid it on the bed, and put a quilt of goats’ hair at its head, and covered it with clothes. - 1 Samuel 19:13



I have many pictures and statues of the Beatles in my home. I love their music but I do not worship them.


First off, the ‘household idol’ is what it seems – an idol of a foreign god. So, yeah, there’s a problem there. The question, though, is whose idol is it – David’s, or his wife Michal’s?

Do you remember the story of David bringing the ark into Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6? In that story, Michal berates David for dancing as he leads the ark into the city. It makes a person wonder, don’t you think? Why is it that Michal was so angry? Perhaps – and this is just conjecture, mind you – perhaps it’s because it was Michal who did not worship the Lord, and so she was angry at David’s love of God… :shrug:


The idol was a teraphim.




NABRE 1 Samuel 19
11 The same night, Saul sent messengers to David’s house to guard it, planning to kill him in the morning. David’s wife Michal informed him, “Unless you run for your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.”
12 Then Michal let David down through a window, and he made his escape in safety.
13 Michal took the teraphim and laid it in the bed, putting a tangle of goat’s hair at its head and covering it with a blanket.
14 When Saul sent officers to arrest David, she said, “He is sick.”
15 Saul, however, sent the officers back to see David and commanded them, “Bring him up to me in his bed, that I may kill him.”
16 But when the messengers entered, they found the teraphim in the bed, with the tangle of goat’s hair at its head.
17 Saul asked Michal: “Why did you lie to me like this? You have helped my enemy to get away!” Michal explained to Saul: “He threatened me, saying ‘Let me go or I will kill you.’”

For many years the Jewish people, even the Kings, tolerated the teraphim. Sometimes this was to “keep the peace” with pagan worshipers. This was one of the many reasons that God constantly accused them of being faithless and disobedient.

God had advised His people that kings were a really bad idea.
NABRE 1 Solomon 8
Request for a King.
1 In his old age Samuel appointed his sons judges over Israel.
2 His firstborn was named Joel, his second son, Abijah; they judged at Beer-sheba.
3 His sons did not follow his example, but looked to their own gain, accepting bribes and perverting justice.
4 Therefore all the elders of Israel assembled and went to Samuel at Ramah
5 and said to him, “Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, like all the nations, to rule us.”
6 Samuel was displeased when they said, “Give us a king to rule us.” But he prayed to the LORD.
7 The LORD said: Listen to whatever the people say. You are not the one they are rejecting. They are rejecting me as their king.d
8 They are acting toward you just as they have acted from the day I brought them up from Egypt to thismn very day, deserting me to serve other gods.
9 Now listen to them; but at the same time, give them a solemn warning and inform them of the rights of the king who will rule them.

God knew that having a king would prove disastrous for the Israelites. The people were choosing to f ollow a fallible human rather than the one true King, God Himself. David, although bet ter than many of the future kings, was not a perfect man by any stretch. He committed m urder, coveted goods and other men’s wives, called for a census (he let satan provoke him into numbering the men of military age), and amassed many wives and great wealth. He was an adulterer. All of these actions had disastrous consequences. His family was in constant turmoil, he was constantly drawn into war, a plague overtook his kingdom, his child died, his son Absalom and he was not allowed to build the Temple.

IMHO, one of the lessons here is that God can produce great things even from flawed vessels, like David. We should not get discouraged when we struggle. If we trust in God, good will happen. David, although he committed great sin, including possible idolatry, also accomplished magnificent things!

The failure of kingship also serves to teach us that we can do nothing without God. When we let pride cause us to choose our own will over God’s it will always end in failure. Only repentance and returning to Him will ultimately bring about happiness.


Very interesting.


No, David was not an idol worshiper. He always did was was right in the sight of the Lord, that is, apart from the case of Uriah the Hittite whom he had killed in battle because of his wife, and for which he repented


Michal was using the idol to hide the fact that David was not in his bed, nothing more. No different than using several pillows for the same effect.



I think that the question isn’t “is this use for a household idol ok?”, but rather, “hey! what are they doing with a pagan idol in their house, anyway?!?!?” :wink:


Thanks for the enlightenment. Now that I better understand the question, your comment in post #3 seems to be a reasonable suggestion concerning the presence of the idol. From the brief mentions of Michal in the Bible, she does not seem to be all-in with David and his devotion to God.



This incident is described a bit differently in the NABRE:

NABRE 2 Samuel:
20* When David went home to bless his own house,j Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him and said, “How well the king of Israel has honored himself today, exposing himself to the view of the slave girls of his followers, as a commoner might expose himself!”
21 But David replied to Michal: “I was dancing before the LORD. As the LORD lives, who chose me over your father and all his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people, Israel, not only will I make merry before the LORD,
22 but I will demean myself even more. I will be lowly in your eyes, but in the eyes of the slave girls you spoke of I will be somebody.”
23 Saul’s daughter Michal was childless to the day she died.

[6:20–23] Michal’s reaction to David’s dancing comes from her conception of how a king should comport himself. David rejects this understanding, saying he needs no instruction from the house of the failed king, Saul.

I don’t disagree about David and the idol necessarily. I just don’t think this piece of scripture demonstrates the point. It possibly shows a lack of understanding, but I am not convinced that is proof of pagan belief.


And I think I’d interpret it this way: David thought it was more important to praise the Lord; Michal thought it was more important to restrain oneself and look good than to praise God. That, it seems, suggests that she had a different outlook on how to properly act toward God. :shrug:

I am not convinced that is proof of pagan belief.

Agreed; and that’s why I characterized it as ‘conjecture’ and not as ‘proof’. :wink:


I suspect David was probably not even aware that this thing was in his house.


It was a life-size idol. That would be somewhat difficult to hide… :wink:


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