“So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he went back.— 2 Samuel 3:15–16
Not many people have heard of the biblical character named Paltiel. His presence in the Bible is brief and not particularly memorable. He was the second husband of King Saul’s daughter Michal. Her father had given her to Paltiel after she had helped her husband, King David, escape from her father’s fury. As opposed to King David’s universally known heroism and might, Paltiel’s heroic act lies far beneath the surface, almost totally unknown.
The Scriptures tell us very little about Paltiel. He was Michal’s husband and when she was given back to King David, he “went with her, weeping behind her.” The Talmud teaches that Paltiel was not weeping because of the loss of his wife. In fact, we are taught, he knew all along that King David was Michal’s true husband, and so Paltiel never consummated their marriage. The reason Paltiel cried was because for the whole time that he was living with Michal, he was confronted with the difficult challenge of leaving her untouched. It took tremendous strength and daily discipline to restrain his desires. Now that she was gone, so was his challenge.
While most people spend their lives running away from difficulties or getting past them as quickly as possible, along comes Paltiel son of Laish and turns that sentiment inside out. Challenges aren’t something to wish away; they are something to long for!