Strange Stories in the Bible

Last Sunday, Pastor Phil Rode started his sermon by talking about some of the strange stories in the Bible.  He mentioned lots of difficult and strange stories that we often skip over in our efforts to understand the Bible.  We tend to disregard anything that doesn’t fit our interpretation of facts or events.  Here are some of the strange stories he mentioned:

Artemisia Gentileschi’s Jael and Sisera (1620)

Jael driving a tent peg through the head of Sisera in Judges 4.  It is a strange story because she invites him into her tent, tells him not to be afraid, and then kills him as soon as he goes to sleep.  I would add that this story is even stranger because it is in the chapter about Judge Deborah.  A female judge who is also a leader of the army of Israel.  Definitely out of the ordinary.

Pastor Phil mentioned the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree in Matthew 21.  He curses it because he is hungry, even though it isn’t the season for the tree to bear figs.  The fig tree withers and dies immediately.  It seems a petty thing for Jesus to do the day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Another strange story, and the subject of Pastor Phil’s sermon, was Philip meeting the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8.  The Ethiopian eunuch was a believer in the Jewish God who went to Jerusalem to worship and spent time reading the Hebrew scriptures.  Philip explained to him what they meant and baptized the eunuch.

After the service, Tom and I spent some time talking about strange stories in the Bible.  There are so many.  Tom thinks the entire story of Jonah is strange.  Jonah runs away because he doesn’t want to go to Ninevah as God instructs him.  He gets swallowed by a giant fish.  When he finally does go to Ninevah, he preaches a one-sentence sermon and the entire city repents and is shown mercy by God.  That must have been some sentence!

Saul and David by Rembrandt

I’ve recently been reading Samuel and Chronicles and the story of Saul and David has some strange elements.  Saul messes up and is condemned by God.  David does things that are even worse but is forgiven.  Saul tries to kill David.  David has a chance to kill Saul while Saul is “relieving himself” but instead just cuts off a corner of his robe.  Samuel is upset that the people are rejecting his authority and want a king.  God tells Samuel that he should be more upset about the people rejecting God.

Another favorite odd story in the Bible is the left-handed Judge Ehud killing King Eglon in Judges 3.  Upon consideration, however, you might say that the entire book of Judges is strange.  It has some of the most unusual and interesting stories in the Bible.  I like to think all these strange stories show us that God can use anyone in his service.

What do you think?  What is your favorite strange story in the Bible?  I’d like to hear from you!