Stump: The Bangle by Emma Randles

Stump is a blogging project of Claremont Presbyterian Church.

King David brings the Ark of God to his city, and all the way there he dances his heart out and celebrates by making sacrifices and feeding the people of Israel. Michal, the daughter of Saul, watches all of this and gets mad at him, and she goes and tells him he’s embarrassing himself. (David had succeeded Saul on the throne after the latter lost an important battle.) King David tells Michal that he is dancing for his God, the God that gave him his kingdom, and that she better get used to him being embarrassing if that’s what she thinks about his particular style of praise.

The bangle is today’s Jesse tree symbol. The bangle that King David wore as he danced before the Ark. The bangle I assume he was still wearing when he clashed with Michal. When I first read the story, I wasn’t sure I could relate it to advent. It surely would fit better as a reflection for a worship committee deciding whether to adopt a more contemporary style of music in services or something. The chapter ends with the fact that Michal is barren for the rest of her life, which I suppose is just one of those difficult things about the Old Testament.

I’m curious about how the conflict between these two members of the elite society could have played out differently, had either been able to relate more empathetically to the other. I am presently living in an intentional community in a year of church service, and it feels like we are never not working on how to peacefully and empathetically live with one another and resolve conflict. In my opinion, King David and Michal could have done things a little better differently.

Michal, knowing King David was a difficult person for her to deal with due to the fact that he succeeded her dead father on the throne, could simply have chosen not to engage with him. Or, she could have approached him with a different attitude, remembering that the wound of losing her father was still fresh. King David, recognizing that he had been dancing and celebrating all day and was probably very tired, could have asked her politely to come back another time when he was more rested. Or, he could have been sensitive to the fact that Michal was maybe lashing out because she was upset about her family tragedy, and then engaged her in a conversation. In any of those scenarios, I don’t see Michal ending up childless and King David with hurt feelings about his dance moves.

This past year I took a course on radical and engaged compassion with Dr. Frank Rogers and Mark Yaconelli. An idea that has stuck with me since is letting a physical object serve as a reminder to stay grounded, in order to be able to engage with others from a place of compassion. I can’t help but think King David’s bangle would have been perfect for this, because it was already on his wrist! During the holiday season, when people seem to get tired and upset more easily, I encourage you to find something to serve as a reminder of God’s love, or the advent of Jesus’s birth, or anything that helps you stay grounded—I’ll be wearing a bangle.

Emma Randles is a lifelong member of Claremont Presbyterian, and a Young Adult Volunteer for the PC(USA), currently based in Austin, TX. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2013 with a degree in Psychology and Spanish Literature. While she doesn’t know exactly what she will be doing next, she has some ideas. Find more Emma here: