Why I Can’t Agree With the Bible: 1 Samuel: Part 1


I have gotten through a good portion of 1 Samuel. This post will go up to the point when the Israelites ask for a king.
1 Samuel begins with Samuel’s parents, Elkanah and Hannah. The two wives of Elkanah, Hannah and Peninnah, are referred to as rivals. Why should they be rivals? What are they competing over? Hannah prayed to God because she was upset that she couldn’t have children. It seems that this is the first example of someone speaking in tongues.
Hannah gives her son, Samuel, to God. It seems that he is to be a Nazirite like Samson. Hannah had many more children, while Eli, the priest, had sons who were bad people. Eli’s sons refused to listen to their father because God wanted them to die. So basically, God took their free will away, forcing them to keep sinning, and then punished them for sinning. God got mad at Eli over this.
Apparently God rarely spoke to people at this time. Though he seemed to speak to people a lot more than he does today. God stood beside Samuel, and spoke to him. Samuel didn’t know what was happening because he haden’t “given himself over to the lord,” so Eli had to explain it to him. Why did God wait for Eli to explain it. Why didn’t God say “it’s not Eli, it’s God” the second time? Or, better yet, tell Samuel what was happening the first time? Samuel was apparently a prophet.
God rode the ark of the covenant to the battle field. It said he sat on it. So God has a physical form? Does he look human? The Philistines said that a god had never entered the battle field before. That seems to contradict every battle that has happened up until this point. They also said “a god,” as in there were many who could have entered the battle field with the Israelites. This is further encouraged when the Philistines say “who will save us from these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with plagues.” These gods? But I thought the Israelite religion was supposed to be a monotheism. The Israelites are called Hebrews for the first time by the Philistines. God lets 30,000 men die so that he could have Eli’s sons die.
The ark was captured. Eli doesn’t react to his sons’ deaths, but he falls down and breaks his neck because the ark is captured. The Philistines made golden tumors and rats as part of their offerings to God when they returned the ark. This seems odd. Yes, God apparently cursed them with tumors and rats, but why make gold tumors?
Samuel tells the Israelites to stop serving gods other than Yahweh. Once again, they ask for forgiveness for their sins. Seriously, how does this habit make sense? And, if Israelites are so prone to worshiping other gods, why don’t we see this pattern occurring today?
Samuel is Israel’s leader until his death. Samuel’s sons were as bad as Eli’s, so the people asked for a king. God sees this as a rejection against him. Why doesn’t God punish Samuel like he punished Eli? Isn’t he going against himself by doing this? And how is it a rejection of God to ask for a king? Kings are men, not gods.
Apparently the people traveled out of their own towns to ask for a king. How far did they travel? And why? Weren’t there better ways of asking for a king?

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9 responses to “Why I Can’t Agree With the Bible: 1 Samuel: Part 1

  • existentialtheory

    Reading some of your posts, I get the feeling that there’s a huge cultural barrier here: you need to take a couple Old Testament courses. Maybe take a couple years of Hebrew and study Ancient Near Eastern culture. It’ll eliminate most of the things you say and/or question, while changing the kinds of questions you ask. Try reading Kierkegaard or The Iliad with no background knowledge of text and/or person…

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    • hessianwithteeth

      I’m questioning the Bible from the perspective of this day and age. It’s in response to people who say “if you just read the bible, you’d believe what I believe.” As such, I’m just showing my immediate response when I read it. I’m purposefully ignoring the history and culture because this isn’t meant to be an intellectual analysis.

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      • silenceofmind

        Hessian,

        Text can only be rightfully understood by first understanding the original intent of the authors and the context, cultural or otherwise, of the author’s life and times.

        Questioning the Bible from the one’s own perspective is provincial and reflects an ingrained intolerance.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          While I do actually agree with some of what you said, you are forgetting something very important: it is impossible to separate the reader from their own personal bias. Everybody who reads anything interprets it through their own cultural perspective and beliefs. This is one of the biggest problems with history.
          Don’t forget: I do have some background knowledge in this time period, and I also have knowledge of the ancient Israelites and their neighbors. As such, I have more background knowledge than most of the people who take this stuff literally. I am doing my best to eliminate that advantage but reacting to the things I’m reading as if it were my first time. Again, I’m showing people how an atheist may interpret things differently. That’s it. There is nothing deeper to my reading than that. I could turn this into an intellectual discussion if I wanted to, but I’d need a lot more sources than I’m using, which would take more time. And there are already people who research the bible for a living. Many of them have books and websites available to the public. It would make a lot more sense to just review some of their work if that was the angle that I wanted to take with this.

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          • silenceofmind

            Hessian,

            I’m sorry, but it IS possible to separate the reader from his own private bias.

            It’s called getting a real education and learning how to think rationally and systematically.

            Rational, systematic thinking has as one of its objectives, to reduce, if not eliminate, personal bias so that the human being can take a look out at the world and see it for what it really is.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            If you think that anything you have ever done is without bias, then you are the uneducated one.

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      • charles

        There is value in what you are doing in that it gets at the question of the nature of the Bible as God’s supposed perfect communication to humans.

        God apparently is limited by our limitations – language & culture (which vary geographically, and change over time) & education. A book simply cannot communicate effectively to everyone. God could have some kind of supernatural book (like the Doctor’s psychic paper?) that shows you what you need to see.

        The explanation I’ve told myself in the past is that the Holy Spirit speaks to us as we read and reveals to use what the Bible means. Lately I’ve seriously questioned that, as it seems He is telling different things to different people!

        So then you are left with learning Hebrew and Greek and history and … in order to join the debate about what the original authors probably intended to communicate to the original audience… And I am left thinking that that makes perfect sense if the Bible is simply ancient literature.

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      • existentialtheory

        Ah, I see. That makes perfect sense. I agree with you – the Bible definitely doesn’t make much sense on its own…

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  • silenceofmind

    I love this part of Samuel!

    God actually explains the terrible effects of tyranny but the Israelites demand it because they want to be like everyone else, ruled over by a king.

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