Why I Can’t Agree With the Bible: 1 Samuel: Part 2

I will finish 1 Samuel with this post. There are some interesting moral discussions to be had with this book. While it is not nearly as horrifying as Judges, it is still quite problematic.
God told Samuel that he would send someone to be king, that person was Saul, despite God believing that asking for a ruler was a slight against him. Why would God pick someone for the Israelites? If it’s folly, why not simply say “do as you will” ? Or is this God’s way of maintaining what control he can?
Samuel tells Saul that he is to be the ruler of the Israelites. God claims to have changed Saul’s heart. Doesn’t this suggest that God took Saul’s freewill away? If God changed Saul’s heart, then why is he supposed to be so corrupt? Couldn’t God prevent him from becoming corrupt? Saul is discribed as being taller than everyone else. This issupposed to show that he is unique. Why does Saul’s height matter? Wouldn’t it be better to pick someone who’s a worthy ruler?
When Saul becomes king, some men threaten to take an eye from each Israelite. How does gouging out an eye disgrace Israel? Isn’t it more of a disgrace to the people who take people’s eyes?
Samuel tell the people that they did evil by asking for a king. How is asking for a king evil? And why would a thunderstorm cause the Israelites to realize that it is evil? Weren’t thunderstorms common during certain parts of the year? Why would the people fear something that they were used to?
The Israelites are told to fear God again. Why is God so obsessed with being feared?
Saul becomes a warmonger as soon as he is made king. Since God changed his heart, did he cause this? Did God want Saul to be so war-like? If so, what are the moral implications of this?
Saul refers to the Israelites as Hebrews. This is the second time. This shows a progression over time where the Israelites’ identity is concerned.
Saul offered a burnt offering at one battle field because Samuel wasn’t there. This was a no-no. Since Moses said that sacrifices were only to happen at certain places at certain times, this makes sense, but Samuel seems to be more angry than God is.
Saul only had about 600 men. This number is far more reasonable than the numbers given in earlier battles.
Saul’s son, Jonathon, and his armor-bearer defeated a bunch of Philistines on their own. This seems unlikely. And, if God is so mad at Saul that he isn’t willing to help him win the battle, why is he willing to help Jonathon? Why not punish Saul by letting his son get killed? It’s not like he hasn’t done so in the past.
Saul prevented the people from eating. The people were so hungry because of Saul that they ate blood. Saul’s reaction was to tell the people where to kill their sheep so they wouldn’t eat blood. The people are already unclean, so why weren’t they just told to get themselves cleansed?
Samuel tells Saul that he has turned away from God. How has Saul turned away from God? He thought he did as God ordered. How can he be blamed for making a simple mistake? Saul then calls Yahweh Samuel’s god. Does Saul not view Yahweh as his god too? Sparing livestock is apparently evil. Samuel tells Saul that he has done evil by not killing all the livestock. Saul lost his kingship over this. What are the moral implications of this? Why are the Israelites so willing to kill livestock left and right?
God is fairly fickle with his kings. He tells Samuel to go find his next king before Saul is anywhere near dead. Doesn’t he realize how easily problems can be created by so obviously playing (and changing) favorites?
God says he looks at the heart, but Saul was chosen for his height. Is God lying? Or did he purposefully pick someone unsuited to be king because he was mad at the Israelites?
God sent an evil spirit to torment Saul, apparently this spirit could be chased away with music from a lyre. Does God command all evil spirits? If so, does he command the devil?
Saul sent his army to the Philistines. Goliath challenged them. It sounds to me like Goliath was trying to prevent unnecessary warfare by making a deal: a one on one battle, the winner wins the war (if the Israelites win, they conquer the Philistines, if they lose, they must leave). How exactly is Goliath the bad guy here? David cares very much about Goliath’s lack of circumcision. Is the most important thing about Goliath really the fact that he isn’t circumcised? Patriarchial societies sure care a lot about penises…Goliath “cursed David by his gods.” Whose gods? David’s or Goliath’s? It kind of sounds like he means David’s. Does David have many gods? David tells Goliath that he is defying God. How did Goliath defy God? By fighting against the Israelites? So it’s Goliath’s fault that he was born a Philistine and was in the army?
Saul is told whose son David is when David is given the position of player of the lyre for Saul, but Saul doesn’t know whose son he is when he kills Goliath? Does he not recognize the person who sits with him and plays music to keep the evil spirits away?
Jonathon is said to love David. Why did Jonathon love David? They only just met, didn’t they?
While Saul is being tormented by evil spirits, he decides to try and kill David. Why would God make Saul try to kill David? Is this really an immoral action on Saul’s part if he had no choice? Isn’t Yahweh the one responsible? Why is David so unwilling to marry Saul’s daughter? Does he realize what Saul planned? Was he afraid of Saul? Of was he really just being modest? Saul tells David that all he wants is 100 Philistine foreskins for his daughter’s bride price. David killed Philistines for their foreskins so that he could marry Saul’s daughter. How is this a moral action?
Jonathon warned David that Saul wanted to kill him. How had David not realized this yet?
God makes Saul try to kill David again. Why? What is the purpose here? And can people really be blamed when God makes them do things? Of course God’s prophecy came true: he made it come true!
“You son of a rebellious and perverse woman!” Does this sound like a modern insult to anyone else? Also, this is more sexism.
David assures a boy that he’ll be safe by saying “the man who’s trying to kill you is trying to kill me as well.” That sure wouldn’t assure me.
Saul chases David. A lot. He seems a bit obsessed, actually.
Jonathon tells David that he will be David’s servant while David will be king. How does Jonathon know that David will be king? This doesn’t come across as obvious to me.
David feels entitled to a man’s property for guarding his stuff. The man doesn’t seem to have asked David for help. How is David entitled to anything? And why would he think it’s okay to kill the man for not giving him things? David seems like a self-righteous twit to me.
How does everybody seem to know what the main characters in the Bible are doing? It seems unlikely that the information could spread so quickly.
David marries a second and third woman. His first wife is married to another man. Both polygamy and divorce seem to be acceptable here.
“As surely as the lord lives.” So God is alive and can die.
David moved into Philistine territory, with approval by their king, and then raided their territory. He killed everyone so that the king wouldn’t know. So he’s a murderer and a traitor. Seriously, where are his morals?
Saul goes to a medium to speak to Samuel. Despite mediums being outlawed, it seems to be common knowledge where one can find a medium, and people don’t seem too concerned by her work. Saul knew that Samuel was summoned by the medium because it was “an old man in a robe.” Doesn’t that describe a lot of people in this time? Did the medium also ask him if someone he knew had a name that started with an S?
David and his men have their homes plundered and their families taken. David and his men go after the raiders. So it’s okay for David to plunder others, but it is not okay for others to plunder David. I think this is a double standard. And these plunderers didn’t even kill anyone!
Why would an Egyptian have David swear to God? Why not have him swear to one of the Egyptian gods?

2 responses to “Why I Can’t Agree With the Bible: 1 Samuel: Part 2

  • Marigold

    Fascinating. This was a great read and how you challenged one of the classic stories with modern values you really highlighted how different we are from the early civilisations. Gives me hope for the future towards growing understanding and acceptance.


  • charles

    The sort of reply I might have given in the past is: “That’s how we can be sure the Bible is true! I records both the good and the bad of all these people. Just because something happens in the Bible doesn’t mean we are to imitate it.”
    Now, I can see the validity in your criticisms. That this is history written by the victors, with an agenda, with God sprinkled in to justify parts, seems like a much more plausible explanation than “inspired Word of God.”


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