Tag Archives: overreaction

The Story of Elijah’s God Contest
The Gods Must Be Lazy

During the reign of the evil King Ahab, some of the Israelites began to abandon their God. They started worshiping another god, called Baal. So Elijah, a prophet of God, challenged Ahab and the 450 prophets of Baal. He had them meet him on a mountain in the presence of the people of Israel.

Elijah had a bull killed and put it on an altar to sacrifice it to God, but didn’t set it on fire. The prophets of Baal did the same for their god. The prophets kept calling to Baal all day, asking him to prove his existence by setting his bull on fire himself, but Baal didn’t respond. Elijah suggested shouting louder, in case Baal was asleep or something, but that didn’t help.

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The Gods Must Be Lazy
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The Story of King Solomon
The Wisest Man in the World

When King David was old, he had trouble staying warm. His attendants solved that problem by finding a hot girl to lie next to him in bed. Her name was Abishag, but he didn’t shag her. One day, David’s wife Bathsheba came to his room with a complaint.

She said David had promised that her son Solomon would be the next king. But now another son of David, Adonijah, had made himself king. Then David had Bathsheba come to his room, and he declared Solomon to be the new king of Israel.

When Adonijah heard about that, he was afraid Solomon would kill him. Solomon decided not to kill his brother for trying to become king. But then when Adonijah tried to marry Abishag, Solomon did kill him, because he thought that meant Adonijah was trying to become king. After David died, Solomon also killed a man David had sworn would not be killed, because Solomon was a wise man.

One night, after Solomon sacrificed at an unauthorized altar, God offered to give him anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom, because he was young and inexperienced and ignorant and didn’t know right from wrong. God was so pleased that Solomon hadn’t asked for money that he made Solomon the richest king of all time, and he also made him the wisest person of all time. Solomon later asked God to let him live as long as the sun and moon endured. But apparently God didn’t like that request as much.

After he became wise, Solomon suggested cutting a baby in half. Then he wisely decided not to let the baby be raised by a prostitute who thought his idea was a good one. (He gave the baby to a different prostitute instead.)

King Solomon ruled over many other kingdoms in addition to Israel. During his reign there was peace for Israel, except when there wasn’t. He wrote thousands of songs1 and proverbs, and studied plants and animals. People came from all over the world to hear his wisdom. But wisdom was beyond him.

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The Wisest Man in the World
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The Story of David’s Census
Morning by Morning He Dispenses With Justice

God was feeling angry at his people, and needed an excuse to punish them. So he told David to take a census of Israel.1 David’s commander Joab thought God’s idea was repulsive for some reason, but he helped David count the Israelites anyway.

After taking the census, David decided that Joab was right, that what he had done was foolish and sinful, and God agreed. God sent a prophet to ask David how he would like to be punished for obeying God. David didn’t fear God as much as he feared men, so he said he would prefer God to punish him himself, rather than sending David’s enemies to punish him.

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Morning by Morning He Dispenses With Justice
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The Story of King Absalom
A Man’s Enemies Are the Members of His Own Household

David’s son Amnon was obsessed with his beautiful sister Tamar. Amnon’s nephew advised him to pretend to be sick. Then he could request a meal to be served to him in bed by his sister. So he did. When Tamar went to Amnon’s bedroom and tried to give him some food, he wouldn’t eat it. Instead, he told her to get in bed with him.

Tamar said she couldn’t do that right now, because that would be foolish and wicked and disgraceful. They should get married first! She was sure their righteous father David would allow his children to marry each other. But Amnon ignored her proposal, raped her, and sent her away. Absalom, another son of David, saw Tamar crying, and he told her to shut up. He said she should stop taking Amnon’s actions so seriously, because he was just her brother.

King David was not happy with what Amnon had done. Two years later, Absalom had Amnon killed. David heard that all his sons had been killed, and he wasn’t happy about that, either. When he found out that only Amnon was dead, he was just slightly more happy. Absalom wasn’t allowed to see his father for two years. Then Absalom set Joab’s barley field on fire, which convinced him to let Absalom visit David.

Absalom became popular (despite his disgracefully long hair) by kissing all the men who came to see King David. Then Absalom was able to get the people to declare him king of Israel. When David heard that his son was trying to overthrow him, he and most of his household ran away. But he made ten of his girlfriends stay behind to take care of his palace.

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A Man’s Enemies Are the Members of His Own Household
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The Story of the Lost Ark
God Gives You Cancer

Back when Israel was led by Samuel, there had been a war between the Israelites and the Philistines, and Israel was losing. The Israelites thought it might help if God was with them, so they brought out the ark of the covenant. When the Philistines heard that a mighty enemy god had arrived, they were afraid, and they knew they would have to fight hard to defeat Israel. So the Philistines fought hard, and defeated Israel.

They killed tens of thousands of Israelites, captured the ark of God, and took it to the temple of their god Dagon. But then Dagon started bowing down to the ark, and the Philistines started getting tumors. They tried moving the ark to different cities, but Philistines died wherever the ark went.

After seven months of this, the Philistines decided they should send the ark away. They put the ark on a cart and let two cows take it back to Israelite territory. When the Israelites saw that the cows had brought their ark back, they were so grateful that they… killed the cows.

But then when 70 Israelites looked inside the ark at the things that God had told Moses to put there so people could look at them, God killed them all. Now the people who had found the ark of God didn’t want to keep it, since it seemed to bring death everywhere it went. So they sent the ark to the house of some guy named Abinadab.

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God Gives You Cancer
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The Story of King Ish-Bosheth
The One Where Nearly Everybody Gets Killed, But It's Not God's Doing for a Change

After Saul and his whole family died, his dead son Ish-Bosheth succeeded him as king of Israel. But David was made king of the tribe of Judah. The commander of the army of Israel was Saul’s cousin Abner, and the commander of the army of Judah was David’s nephew Joab.

These commanders thought it would be fun to see some men stab each other to death. So they made two dozen of their soldiers stab each other to death. But Joab’s brother Asahel didn’t like that, so he chased Abner. Abner didn’t like that, so he stabbed Asahel to death. Joab didn’t like that, so he chased Abner, too. But then Abner suggested not chasing him. So Joab stopped chasing him.

King Ish-Bosheth offended his commander Abner by accusing him of sleeping with Saul’s girlfriend. So Abner decided to desert Ish-Bosheth and help David take over Israel. When Abner offered to help David become king of all Israel, David agreed to let him do that… but only if he did David a favor first.

By this time David had married at least four women. But Saul had taken back his daughter Michal, David’s first wife, and given her to somebody else. David had Abner steal Michal back for him and make her other husband go away. After doing that, Abner went off to convince the Israelites to make David their king.

But David’s commander Joab didn’t like Abner, who had killed Joab’s brother. Joab thought Abner must have only come there to spy on David for Ish-Bosheth. So Joab found Abner and stabbed him to death. David didn’t like that (even though he had previously declared that Abner must die). So David put a curse on Joab’s family, and later had his son kill Joab.

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The One Where Nearly Everybody Gets Killed, But It's Not God's Doing for a Change
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The Story of the Witch of Endor
The Fall of Tall Saul

The Philistines came to attack Israel, and King Saul was afraid. Despite what had happened the last time he had sought God’s help, he asked God for advice, but God wouldn’t answer him. (Maybe God was deep in thought, or busy, or traveling, or sleeping…)

Saul wanted to ask God’s prophet Samuel for advice, but by this time Samuel was dead. Saul decided to ask Samuel for advice anyway. So he found a witch and got her to resurrect the spirit of Samuel. He promised her that she would not be punished for what she was doing, which was against God’s law.

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The Fall of Tall Saul
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Is God easily angered?

No.

God claims to be compassionate, forgiving, and slow to anger. And that’s what other people always say about him in the Bible, too. David repeatedly said God was compassionate and slow to anger. The prophets Joel and Jonah said the same thing, and that he relents from sending calamity. Nahum, too, said God was slow to anger, and Jeremiah described him as long-suffering. And the New Testament says that God is love, and that love is not easily angered.

Here are all the stories in the Bible where God demonstrates how slow he is to anger:

  • God wasn’t too hard on Sarah for laughing at his message. (Though he must have done something to make her so afraid to admit she’d done it.)
  • God didn’t get angry when Abraham repeatedly challenged God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. He didn’t seem to mind him asking what God would do if there were increasingly small numbers of good people there. (Though Abraham wasn’t confident enough to go all the way down to one good person. And he seemed awfully timid about the whole thing.)
  • God cooperated with Gideon when he repeatedly tested God by asking for signs that it was really him. (Though Gideon sure seemed to expect God to be angry.)
  • When Job spent most of his story talking about how cruel and unjust God was, God waited a long time before reacting at all. And then he didn’t do anything worse in response than making fun of Job. (Because he had done way more than enough to him already. And God was still intimidating enough that Job ended up declaring himself to be in the wrong, for no logical reason at all.)

That’s about it. If God is really so slow to anger, how can there be so few accounts of him acting that way? And why do the people even in those stories expect him not to be so? Because most of the time, God is not actually slow to anger at all.

Yes.

Some people said “Does the Lord become impatient?”, apparently implying that they think that’s not the kind of thing he would do. But the prophet Micah didn’t seem to think people should say that, because God does become impatient, very easily.

In the Bible, God is always getting ridiculously angry over the most insignificant things, and killing people before they have a chance to do anything good to redeem themselves. (And often before they even have a chance to actually do anything bad to deserve it.)

Getting angry is not a rare thing for God. He displays his stormy wrath every day. It terrifies and consumes people. He is a jealous and avenging God, who is filled with wrath and vents it against his enemies. His surges of anger may not always last very long, but he gets so angry that the mountains shake and the whole earth trembles. No one can stand before him and endure his wrath.

God pursues people with anger and slays them without pity. His anger reduces people to nothing. It drives him to kill and kill and kill, and then he’s still just as angry. Sometimes the Bible says God will stay angry at his people forever. Even when he sets aside all his wrath, he’s still angry!1

(Keep in mind that God is being “patient” and “merciful” and restraining his anger throughout all of this. So he’s really even angrier than he seems. If he let his true anger show, he would have just killed everybody a long time ago. And the only reason he holds back his wrath at all is that he figures he can get more people to praise him that way, not because he cares about anyone other than himself.)

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The Story of David and Abigail
David Expects to be Treated Like a King Prematurely

David sent messengers to a rich man named Nabal, asking him to give David and his men something, anything he could find. David thought Nabal owed him something in exchange for not harming Nabal’s employees. But Nabal chose not to give David anything, since he didn’t even know who David was. So David took 400 men with him and went to attack Nabal and murder all the men who worked for him.

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David Expects to be Treated Like a King Prematurely
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The Story of the Priests of Nob
David Gets Away with Lying, Sacrilege, and Reckless Endangerment

David went to Nob with his companions, whoever they were. Ahimelek the priest wanted to know why David had come there alone, and David claimed that Saul had sent him on a secret mission.

The priest gave David some bread that only priests were allowed to eat, and he ate it. David knew that Saul’s servant Doeg would tell Saul that the priests of Nob had helped David. So he ran away to the land of the Philistines, and left the priests to their fate.

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David Gets Away with Lying, Sacrilege, and Reckless Endangerment
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