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1 Samuel 18:20-21 (KJV):

And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.

The idea that Michal being given to David will cause the Philistines to be against him seems to be consistent across Masoretic translations ["that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him" (KJV) -> "She'll be a trap for him, and the hand of the Philistines will be against him" (CSB) -> "that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him" (NIV).], but I'm uncertain why that would be. Why would David marrying Michal carry any consequences in relation to the Philistines?

I thought the Septuagint might help, but the MT's 'Michal + David = Philistines vs David' isn't present. Instead the Septuagint has (seemingly) separate statements -- Michal will be a stumbling block for David. The Philistines are against Saul. (v.20-21, Brenton Translation):

And Melchol the daughter of Saul loved David; and it was told Saul, and the thing was pleasing in his eyes. And Saul said, I will give her to him, and she shall be a stumbling-block to him. Now the hand of the Philistines was against Saul.

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    – user25930
    Feb 10 '19 at 21:33
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There are probably two possible reasons for Saul thinking that his daughter would be a snare/stumbling block to David:

  • Michal was deeply in love with the handsome David and providing a new wife for David would mean that her affections and attentions would (at least) partially drain his energy and attention and at least provide a distraction. Then he might not be so successful and his popularity might decline and Saul would be less jealous.
  • The Torah has a law about this very thing found in Deut 24:5,

    If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

    Thus, David would not (at least legally) be able to be part of the army but would have to stay home to establish is family and hopefully become absorbed in home duties to keep him away from Saul.

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How would marrying Saul's daughter be a snare/stumbling block to David?

Saul was hoping that David would lose his life in trying to get 100 foreskins of the Philistines ,instead of the normal money payment and gifts which would have been paid for dowry . For a king's daughter, the dowry may have been substantial.

1 Samuel 18:25 (NASB)

25" Saul then said, “Thus you shall say to David, ‘The king does not desire any dowry except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to take vengeance on the king’s enemies.’” Now Saul planned to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines."

Other occasions on which dowry or service had to be rendered as in the case of Jacob for Rachel but was given Leah. Genesis 29: 18-30- Jacob, Rachel and Leah. Genesis 34:10-12 -Dinah and Shechem. Genesis 24:53- Rebekah.

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NIV 1 Samuel 19:11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” 12So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head.

Michal was an idol worshiper.

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I hadn't thought about the idol worshipping aspect before. That is interesting, and an indictment against Saul as a father and as king. The best answer, in my view, is that knowing David was poor (See, vs. 18), Saul planned to ask for the dowry requiring David to kill 100 Philistines and hoped that would cause David's death. What Saul didn't understand was how God was protecting David despite his (Saul's) best efforts to destroy him (David).

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    – agarza
    Feb 22 at 3:52
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She despised David for rejoicing before the Lord.

2 Samuel 6:16As 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.

She didn't like David's zeal for the Lord.

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    This happened long after 1 Sam 18. How do you suggest that Saul knew Michal would act this way?
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 10 '20 at 14:36
  • Saul knew her daughter. She was not a true worshipper of the LORD.
    – Mahmoud
    Oct 11 '20 at 11:39
  • How does this answer the question except to re-state the question?
    – Dottard
    Oct 11 '20 at 20:02

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