Merab: Eldest Daughter of Saul

Seeds of Promise Series by Shenica Graham

Merab: Eldest Daughter of Saul

Women of The Bible

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Seeds of Promise Women of the Bible Merab: Eldest Daughter of Saul
I Samuel 18 Audio
Devotional Reading: I Samuel 18:7 AMP

Saul said to David, My elder daughter Merab I will give you as wife; only serve me courageously and fight the Lord’s battles. For Saul thought, Let not my hand, but the Philistines’ hand, be upon him.

Saul was intensely jealous of David’s talent at war, which received high praises from the people, above the recognition of Saul. Saul also recognized the glory of God resting consistently with David, and that Saul himself had lost that very presence. Saul had been personally chosen by God to reign over Israel after they reject God in the person of Samuel. However, Saul was arrogant and hot tempered.

Devotional Reading: I Samuel 18:18-22 AMP

18 David said to Saul, Who am I, and what is my life or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be the king’s son-in-law? 19 But at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite as wife. 20 Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David; and they told Saul, and it pleased him. 21 Saul thought, I will give her to him that she may be a snare to him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. So Saul said to David a second time, You shall now be my son-in-law. 22 And Saul commanded his servants to speak to David privately and say, The king delights in you, and all his servants love you; now then, become [his] son-in-law.

Saul offered his eldest daughter, Merab to David as a wife. However, Saul’s intention was not to make part of his family to love and mentor him. Saul believed that his daughter would be a snare to him. Why would she have been a snare? Was she a “spoiled brat” of a princess? Merab’s character is not elaborated upon. However, various Rabbinic traditions disagree on the actual marriage of Merab [1]. Some say that Merab was indeed married to David, and then later given to Adriel, making the second union a sin by Jewish law.

Devotional Reading: I Samuel 18:23-29 AMP

23 Saul’s servants told those words to David. David said, Does it seem to you a light thing to be a king’s son-in-law, seeing I am a poor man and lightly esteemed? 24 And the servants of Saul told him what David said. 25 Saul said, Say this to David, The king wants no dowry but a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to avenge himself of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the Philistines’ hands. 26 When his servants told David these words, it pleased [him] well to become the king’s son-in-law. Before the days expired, 27 David went, he and his men, and slew two hundred Philistine men, and brought their foreskins and gave them in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter as wife. 28 When Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David and that Michal [his] daughter loved him, 29 Saul was still more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s constant enemy.

Saul’s plan to ruin David with the prowess of a woman backfired. His youngest daughter, Michal loved David genuinely. Thus not only was God’s presence and glory with David in all that he did, David also would have additional favor because it is written that a man that findeth a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor of the LORD. The blessing of God made Saul more jealous and fearful for David’s sake, knowing that he could not directly lay hold upon David to slay him because he was beloved of the people and anointed of God who said, “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophet no harm.” David is in direct contrast to Saul’s arrogance. David did not think more highly of himself than he ought to think. David recognized that he was a shepherd, not born of royalty by man’s tradition, though he was part of the heritage of Christ the King.

Saul gave David what he thought was an impossible task, hoping that David would not survive the battle. Saul asked David to circumcise one-hundred Philistines by force. David not only fulfilled the requisite number because the LORD was with him, David also delivered a second number, doubling the requested foreskins. Saul must have been floored (infuriated) by David’s success in this undertaking. David’s strength and wisdom in battle was above all others of Saul’s army.

Some say that David married Michal after Merab’s death (because concurrent marriage to two sisters was prohibited by Jewish law). The five sons of Merab were thus attributed to Michal because she raised the children as her own. A different Rabbinic tradition says that David did not marry Merab, who was betrothed by King Saul as the reward for slaying Goliath. Since David was indeed the one who succeeded in this task, he should have been given Merab to wife. However, Saul went back on his word and gave Merab to someone else to wife, saying that a woman should not be treated as a prize of chivalry.

Devotional Reading: I Samuel 18:30 AMP

30 Then the Philistine princes came out to battle, and when they did so, David had more success and behaved himself more wisely than all Saul’s servants, so that his name was very dear and highly esteemed.


[1] Kadari, Tamar. “Merab, daughter of Saul: Midrash and Aggadah.” Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women’s Archive. (Viewed on April 15, 2015) <;.

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