God's killings in 1 Samuel
First Samuel begins where Joshua left off. God kills Eli's sons and 34,000 Israelite soldiers, smites the Philistines with hemorrhoids in their secret parts, and kills 50,070 for looking into the ark of the Lord. He thunders on the Philistines and forces them to kill each other.
But there's one story in First Samuel that everyone should know: the Amalekite massacre, in which God ordered Saul to kill every Amalekite "man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." Saul failed to commit complete genocide, so God gave his kingdom to David, who was always happy to kill anyone for God.
When Samuel anointed David as king, "the spirit of the Lord was with David from that day forward" (1 Samuel 16:10-13), So God was with David in each of his killings.
Samuel hacked Agag (the Amalekite king that Saul didn't kill) to death before the Lord, David bought his first wife with 200 Philistine foreskins and got another wife (Abigail) after God killed her husband (Nabal).
The book ends when God kills Saul and his three sons to punish Saul for the incomplete genocide of the Amalekites.
Here is a list of the killings in 1 Samuel. webbot bot="Include" U-Include="1sam-list.html" TAG="BODY" startspan -->
- God kills Eli's sons and 34,000 Israelite soldiers
- God smote them with hemorrhoids in their secret parts
- 50,070 killed for looking into the ark of the Lord
- The Lord thundered great thunder upon the Philistines
- Another Ammonite massacre (and another God-inspired body part message)
- Jonathan's very first slaughter (not counting the one before)
- God forces the Philistines to kill each other
- The Amalekite genocide
- Samuel hacks Agag to pieces before the Lord
- In the Valley of Elah: Goliath
- David buys a wife with 200 Philistines foreskins
- The Lord said to David, Go and smite the Philistines
- God killed Nabal (and David got his wife and other stuff)
- David commits random acts of genocide for the Philistines
- David spends the day killing Amalekites
- God killed Saul (and his sons and soldiers) for not killing all the Amalekites
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60. God kills Eli's sons and 34,000 Israelite soldiers
There was an old priest name Eli, who had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Like Eli, his sons were priests, but they were bad priests who didn't know God, stole meat from burnt offerings, and had sex with women at the door of the tabernacle.
The sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. 1 Samuel 2:12
If any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. 2:16
Eli ... heard all that his sons did ... how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 2:22
Eli talked to his sons about it and tried to get them to change their ways, but they wouldn't listen to him since God had already decided to kill them.
They hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them. 2:25
Before killing Eli's sons, though, God tormented Eli a bit. First, a "man of God" tells Eli that God will "consume his eyes" and "grieve his heart" and make sure that all of his descendants will die young.
A man of God ... said unto him, Thus saith the LORD ... I will cut off thine arm... There shall not be an old man in thine house for ever ... I shall ... consume thine eyes and ... grieve thine heart. 2:27-33
Then, just in case the first message didn't get through, God sends another one to Eli through the boy prophet, Samuel. It takes God three tries to deliver the message, but he finally does. And it's the same nasty message: God will make everyone's ears tingle by punishing all of Eli's unborn descendants for the sins of his sons.
The LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken ... I will judge his house for ever ... because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 3:11-13
Samuel delivers the message to Eli and he responds the way believers always do. (God can do whatever he wants -- however absurd, cruel, or unjust -- and they will call it good.)
It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good. 3:18
So now God had to figure out how he was going to kill Eli's sons.
And that's where the Philistines came in. God used them to kill Eli's sons, along with a 34,000 Israelite soldiers.
In the first battle, the Israelites lost 4000 men.
The Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 4:2
Which surprised the heck out of the Israelites, since God was supposed to be on their side.
So they went to get the ark of the covenant, figuring it would protect them from the Philistines.
When the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of ... that ... it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. 4:3
Along with the ark, they also got Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas.
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD ... and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 4:4
When the ark came to the Israelites' camp, they all shouted at once, causing an earthquake.
When the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. 4:5
The earth shook so much that the Philistines felt it at their camp, and they knew just what it meant. God was with the Israelites and he was on their side.
The Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 4:7
The Philistines had heard what God did to the Egyptians and they were afraid that now he'd do it to them. So they all said together: "Woe is us."
Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. 4:8
Then they snapped out of it and started to act like Philistines, and killed another 30,000 Israelites.
The Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. 4:10
And, in the process, they also killed Eli's sons.
The ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. 4:11
Just as God said he would do in 1 Samuel 2:25
(I gave God credit for 34,002, 34,000 Israelite soldiers and Eli's two sons: Hophni and Phinehas.)
61. God smote them with hemorrhoids in their secret parts
You may have noticed at the end of the last killing, that the Philistines stole the ark of the covenant from the Israelites. And that's when their troubles really began.
The Philistines brought the ark to Ashdod and set it up next to their god, Dagon.
The Philistines took the ark of God ... unto Ashdod ... into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. 1 Samuel 5:1-2
The next morning Dagon had fallen on his face.
When they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face. 5:3
So they put Dagon back in his place, but the next morning he had fallen down again, and this time his head and hands had fallen off, so he was no more than a stump.
When they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. 5:4
Then God started to get nasty. He destroyed the people of Asdod and smote those that survived with hemorrhoids.
But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods (hemorrhoids). 5:6
So the people of Ashdod decided to send the ark to another Philistine city: Gath.
What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither. 5:8
And then God smote the people of Gath, the small and the great, with hemorrhoids in their secret parts.
The hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. 5:9
After that, what do you think the Gathites decided to do with God's ark? They sent it to Ekron.
Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. 5:10
When the ark arrived at Ekron, God did the usual thing: he killed most of the people and gave the rest hemorrhoids.
There was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven. 5:11-12
The Bible doesn't say how many people God killed in Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron. So I'll just call it 3000, 1000 from each city.
62. 50,070 killed for looking into the ark of the Lord
In his last killing, God was busy fashioning hemorrhoids and placing them in the Philistines' secret parts. Stuff like that gets annoying after a while.
So the Philistines asked their priests how they can get God to stop. The priests told them to make five golden hemorrhoids and five golden mice as trespass offerings, and put the ark and the offerings in a cart pulled by two cows. Then let the cows go wherever they choose. If they go toward Bethshemesh, then it was God who was striking the people with hemorrhoids in their secret parts.
The Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but ... return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed ...
What shall be the trespass offering? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice ... take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the ... trespass offering ... and send it away ...
And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us. 1 Samuel 6:2-9
Since that sounded like a reasonable plan, that's what they did. And the cows headed straight for Bethshemesh "and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left."
They laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods. And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh. 6:11-12
So the world now knows for sure that it was God who killed the Philistine people by putting hemorrhoids in their secret parts.
That would have been a happy ending, I suppose, except some of the Bethshemeshites looked into the ark. So God had to kill 50,070 of them.
He smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter. 6:19
Stories like this can only be found in the Bible.
63. The Lord thundered great thunder upon the Philistines
After God killed more than 50,000 for looking into the ark, the ark was moved to Kirjathjearim and the people of Israel "lamented after the Lord" -- which means, I guess, that they wanted the damned thing back.
And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. 1 Samuel 7:2
So Samuel told them what to do. Get rid of all their other gods and worship Yahweh alone. So the Israelites rounded up all their gods and threw them away. Then Samuel told all the people of Israel to gather at Mizpeh and he would say a little prayer for them.
Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD. 7:5
So everyone in Israel came to Mizpeh and poured water out for the Lord, fasted, and said they'd sinned.
And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. 7:6
When the Philistines heard about all this, they prepared to attack Israel.
When the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. 7:7a
The Israelites were afraid of the Philistines, so they asked Samuel to ask God to save them.
When the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 7:7b
So Samuel killed a baby lamb and burned its dead body for God.
Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD. 7:9a
Then Samuel cried out to God and God heard him.
And Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him. 7.9b
While Samuel was busy roasting the lamb for God, the Philistines attacked. And God "thundered with a great thunder" and "discomfited them." Then the Israelites chased them down and killed them.
As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them. 7:10-11
After the slaughter, Samuel put up a monument that said, "So far the Lord has helped us."
Then Samuel took a stone ... saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us. 7:12
Once again the Bible doesn't say how many Philistines were killed. So I'll just call it 1000.
64. Another Ammonite massacre (and another God-inspired body part message)
Remember the Holy Civil War a few killings back? Well this is a lot like it.
It starts with the people from Jabeshgilead making a proposition to the Ammonites.
Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee. 1 Samuel 11:1
Does Jabeshgilead sound familiar to you? Well, if you read about God's 59th killing, it should. (In that story, the Israelites killed everyone in the city of Jabeshgilead except for the virgin women, whom they gave to the surviving Benjamites for wives.)
So everyone in Jabeshgilead was killed a few years before the events in 1 Samuel 11 supposedly took place. Yet here in verse 1 they are making a treaty with the Ammonites. Do dead people make treaties? I guess they do in the Bible.
Anyway, here's the deal that Nahash offered the (dead?) people from Jabeshgilead:
Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel. 11:2
Now you might think that this would be a 'no brainer' to the people of Jabeshgilead. But since they were already dead, maybe they didn't have any eyes to poke out. In any case, the people of Jabshgilead asked for a week to see if they could get an army together to fight the Ammonites. If they couldn't, they'd let the Ammonites poke out one of their eyes.
The elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days' respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to thee. 11:3
The Ammonites said, "Sure, go ahead and get an army together. We'll give you a week." So the leaders of Jabeshgilead sent messengers to Saul.
When Saul heard about it, "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him," and Saul did what any spirit-filled person would do: he killed some oxen, chopped their bodies up into 12 pieces, and sent the pieces to the 12 tribes of Israel.
The Spirit of God came upon Saul ... And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers. 11:6-7a
And it worked, too. Messages like that always work in the Bible.
The fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent. 11:7b
Within a week the ox body parts were sent around to all the tribes of Israel and all the people of Israel responded "as one," forming an army of 330,000.
When he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 11:8
It's amazing what a twelve rotting pieces of meat can do!
Then Saul told the people of Jabeshgilead:
To morrow, by that time the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and shewed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad. 11:9
So the messengers went back and told the good news to leaders of Jabeshgilead, and they told Nahash that tomorrow they'd let them poke out their eyes.
The men of Jabesh said, To morrow we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you. 11:10
The next day Saul and his army killed Ammonites until it got a bit too hot for killing. Then they stopped and took a little break. Before they were done, though, they had killed all the Ammonites.
Saul ... slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together. 11:11
After the slaughter, some of the people wanted Samuel to kill all the Israelites that didn't want Saul to be made king.
But Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel. 11:13
So since it was God that did all the killing, he deserves all the credit.
The Bible doesn't say how many Ammonites were killed; I'll call it a standard massacre and say 1000.
65. Jonathan's very first slaughter (not counting the one before)
Well, it was a bit disappointing to me, but I guess it was OK for a very first slaughter.
Here's how it happened.
One day Jonathan and his armor bearer decided to go find some uncircumcised guys to kill. Who knows? Maybe God would help them.
Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us. 1 Samuel 14:6
Jonathan's amorous armor bearer said to him, "Do whatever is in your heart. Whatever is in your heart is in my heart, too." (They had a very close, intimate relationship.)
His armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart. 14:7
So Jonathan told him his plan. They will go over to the Philistines and if they say, "Wait there and we'll come over to you," then Jonathan and his armor bearer will stay put. But if the Philistines say, "Come up to us, and we will show you something," then they will attack, knowing that God will help them kill them.
Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them. If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them. But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us. 14:8-10
So they did that. And when the Philistines saw them, they said, "Look the Hebrews have crawled out of the holes they were hiding in."
Both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves. 14:11
And then the Philistines said the magic words of doom, "Come on up and we'll show you a thing or two."
The men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. 14:12a
When Jonathan heard that, he told his armor bearer that God would help them kill the Philistines.
Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel. 14:12b
So Jonathan and his armor bearer crawled out of their hole and began to kill Philistines.
Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him. 14:13
They killed about 20 of them, all in an area of half an acre or so, which is not too bad for a very first slaughter.
That first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow. 14:14
The thing that bothers me about this story is the "first slaughter" part. Because if this was Jonathan's very first slaughter, what was he doing in the last chapter?
Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba. 13:3
66. God forces the Philistines to kill each other
After helping Jonathan with his first slaughter (which wasn't really his first, but Oh well), God took over the killing himself. He didn't have much choice if he wanted to get the killing done, because there were only two swords in all Israel at the time, Jonathan's and Saul's. And it's hard to kill Philistines with only sticks and stones.
So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found. 1 Samuel 13:22
But God had a plan. He'd force the Philistines to kill each other (and throw in an earthquake for dramatic effect).
And there was trembling ... and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling. ...
The multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another... Every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture. 14:15-20
After the Philistines killed each other, the Israelites must have gathered up their swords and spears, because by the end of the same chapter Saul is fighting everybody at once, "vexing" them all.
So Saul ... fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them. And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them. 14:47-48
(I guessed that God forced 1000 Philistines to kill each other. But since the Bible doesn't say that God was involved in the second killing, I didn't include it on the official list.)
67. The Amalekite genocide
Nothing much needs to be said about this one.
You only need to read the first three verses from 1 Samuel 15 to know for sure that the God of the Bible is evil. (Thank goodness he doesn't exist!)
Still, it is good idea to look at the story in context.
(Bible believers often tell us to look at the context. But context nearly always makes Bible stories worse, not better. This story is no exception.)
Samuel also said unto Saul ... Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:1-3
Notice that Samuel speaks here for God. Why would anyone believe that then or now? Was it because it sounded like something God would say?
And if the genocide was so important to God, why didn't he tell Saul directly?
But let's assume that the Bible is right and Samuel quoted God correctly. If so, then (unlike many of God's killings) we know why God wanted to Saul to kill all the Amalekites -- because God remembered what their ancestors did hundreds of years before they were born (they defended themselves when the Israelites tried to kill them and take their land).
And Saul pretty much did as God commanded. He sent 210,000 soldiers to kill everyone and everything among the Amalekites: men, women, children, babies, animals -- except for the king, Agag, and some of the more valuable sheep, oxen, and lambs.
Saul gathered the people together ... two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. ... And Saul smote the Amalekites ... And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. 15:4-9
Saul killed the old men, the pregnant women, the children and babies. But he spared the king and some of the more valuable animals, and God would never forgive him for it.
Samuel cried his little eyes out all night and God repented of making Saul king.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. 15:10-11
It's good to know that God repented. When you order someone to commit genocide for stuff that happened centuries ago, you should be a bit sorry about it.
But that wasn't what God was sorry about. God wanted all of the Amalekites to be killed. In some sick way it made God happy every time an old Amalekite woman or a little baby was killed.
No, God repented of making Saul king because he didn't kill everyone, and God wanted everyone killed.
And if you believe in the Bible, you wanted them killed, too.
[If this Bible story is true (which it isn't, of course), how many Amalekites were killed at God's command? I originally gave it the usual 1000 for a standard massacre, but Saul sent 210,000 soldiers to do the killing. He wouldn't send that many soldiers to kill only 1000 civilians would he? So I increased it to 10,000.]
68. Samuel hacks Agag to pieces before the Lord
Saul ruined God's last killing by not killing all the Amalekites. God wanted a complete genocide, and Saul blew it by keeping one man alive (along with a few animals that he planned to kill later for God). Poor Samuel was so upset that he cried all night.
It grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. 1 Samuel 15:11
But according to the story, it wasn't God that told Saul to commit genocide. It was Samuel. Samuel said "thus saith the Lord" and Saul was stupid enough to believe him. And believers have followed along ever since.
After the genocide, Samuel just kept making nasty shit up and blaming it on God.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. 15:10-11
The LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. 15:18
The commandment of God that Saul broke was "Thou shalt kill everyone, man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
Thus saith the Lord of hosts ... Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 15:2-3
So Samuel had to finish the holy genocide by hacking Agag to pieces before the Lord.
Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. And Samuel said, As the sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal. 15:32-33
Samuel was a monster. But he was a hero to God and still is to all Bible believers.
69. In the Valley of Elah: Goliath
After Samuel cried all night and tore his skirt over Saul's incomplete genocide, he finished the job the next day by hacking Agag to pieces before the Lord.
But God and Samuel were still upset by the whole thing. It broke their little hearts. After all, God told Saul to kill all the Amalekites, and Saul saved one guy alive, along with some animals he planned to sacrifice to God later on. (How would you feel if you told someone to commit genocide and then they went and left one person alive?)
Samuel never saw Saul again (not with his clothes on, anyway -- See 1 Samuel 19:24), but he "mourned" for him. And God repented of making Saul king.
Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel. 1 Samuel 15:35
So God and Samuel found another king, someone who would gladly kill anyone at any time for any reason, a man after God's own heart: David.
I'm going to skip the details about how God and Samuel selected David so I can get on with the story at hand. But since the same pair (God and Samuel) that conspired to produce the Amalekite genocide selected David as king, you know it was a good selection!
When Samuel anointed David as king, the Spirit of the Lord came on David and it was with him for the rest of his life. At the same time, of course, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and was replaced by an evil spirit from God, as required by the first law of spiritual thermodynamics.
Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him ... and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. ... But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. 16:13-14
This dastardly evil spirit from God caused Saul lots of problems. And only one thing seemed to help: David and his harp.
David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly ... And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight. And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. 16:21-23
And now we finally get the story I'm supposed to be telling. The one you already know. David and Goliath.
It begins with a Philistine named Goliath, who was a big guy, even by NBA standards. At 6 cubits and a span, he would have been about 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) tall.
There went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 17:4
Goliath had a plan to limit the smiting that was always going on between the Philistines and the Israelites -- a fair fight between two guys: him and whomever the Israelites chose.
He stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 17:8-9
David heard about it and volunteered for the job. It might have had something to do with the reward.
What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? 17.26
And the men of Israel said ... it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel. 17:25
(OK, the verses are out of order, but hey, this is the Bible.)
Then Eliab, David's oldest brother, said that David was just doing it because he had a proud, naughty heart and wanted to get out of watching the sheep.
Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart. 17:28
But David ignored Eliab and went to talk to King Saul.
David finds Saul and offers his services as giant killer but Saul is skeptical.
David said to Saul ... thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. 17:32-33
So David tells him a confusing story about how once, while tending sheep, he killed a lion (and a bear?) with his bare hands. God helped him kill the lion (and the bear?); he'll do the same with the 10 foot giant.
David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. 17:34-37a
So Saul gives David the job, putting his own sword, helmet, and coat of mail on him.
Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 17:37b-38
But David wasn't used to it, so he decided to go with just his staff, a sling, and five stones instead.
David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. 17:39-40
As he was leaving, Saul said to his captain Abner, "Who's son is that boy?"
When Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. And the king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling is. 17:55-56
(In the previous chapter, Saul sent a messenger to tell Jesse to send his son David; David came and played his harp for Saul to get rid of God's evil spirit, and Saul "loved him greatly" for it. Yet now he doesn't even know who David is.)
So David goes off and confronts Goliath, after making a little speech.
Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands. 17:45-47
And you know the rest of the story: David killed Goliath, cut off his head and brought it to Jerusalem.
David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled ... And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem. 17:49-54
(There is a completely different Bible story about Goliath's death, but I'm going to ignore that for now. 2 Samuel 21:19 says that Elhanan killed Goliath.)
Note: Although the Bible doesn't explicitly say that God helped David kill Goliath, David claims that he did. ("This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand." 1 Sam 17:46) But whatever God's involvement may have been in this killing, he clearly approved of it. So I'm including it on the list.
70. David buys a wife with 200 Philistines foreskins
After David killed Goliath, Jonathan fell in love with him.
The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Samuel 18:1
He loved him so much, in fact, that he stripped off all his clothes and gave them, along with his bow and sword, to David.
Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. 18:4
Of course, Jonathan wasn't alone in this. Everyone loved David because he behaved so wisely.
David ... behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants. 18:5
One day when David was returning from slaughtering Philistines, the young women from all the cities of Israel came to greet him. They danced and sang a song that went like this: Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. 18:7
Saul didn't like the song, though, because he, like God, was proud of his killings. So it pissed him off when the dancing girls praised David for killing ten times more than him.
Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousand. 18:8
So Saul was out to get David from that day forward.
Saul eyed David from that day and forward. 18:9
Anyway, the next thing you know God's evil spirit is back and is all over Saul again. And guess what he did this time: he prophesied. (That's what happens when an evil spirit from God comes upon you.)
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied ... and David played with his hand. 18:10
While Saul prophesied under the influence of God's evil spirit, "David played with his hand" and Saul tried to kill him by throwing a spear at him. Twice. But he got away.
Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice. 18:11
Since Saul couldn't kill David with his spear, he figured the next best thing would be to give David his oldest daughter as a wife.
Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife. 18:17
But David refused to take her.
David said unto Saul, Who am I ... that I should be son in law to the king? 18:18
So he tried another daughter, Michal, who like everyone else "loved David." But David refused her, too.
Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. And Saul said, I will give him her ... And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say ... be the king's son in law ... And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king's son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed? 18:20-23
Finally Saul came up with a deal that David just couldn't refuse. He offered to sell Michal for 100 Philistine foreskins.
Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines. 18:25
And this "pleased David well."
And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well. 18:26
He was so pleased, in fact, that he got a bit carried away and paid twice the asking price.
Wherefore David arose and went ... and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. 18:27
After David paid Saul the 200 foreskins, Saul knew for sure that "the Lord was with David." (How else could David get so many foreskins?)
And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David. 18:28
71. The Lord said to David, Go and smite the Philistines
This one is pretty simple. David heard that the Philistines were fighting the city of Keilah and robbing their threshing floors. So he asked God if he should go and smite them. And God said, "Yes, go smite them."
David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. 1 Samuel 23:2
But David's men were afraid of Philistines, so David asked God again, and God said, "Go smite them; I will deliver them into your hand."
Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. 23:4
So David went to fight the Philistines and he "smote them with a great slaughter."
So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. 23:5
There's not much to talk about here, but I do wonder how God communicated with David. Did he come down and talk to him face to face like he did with Moses or did he talk to David like he talks to Pat Robertson?
In any case, I guess we can add another 10,000 or so to God's total for this "great slaughter."
72. God killed Nabal (and David got his wife and other stuff)
After his last killing, David tracked down Saul and snuck in while Saul was "covering his feet" (the biblical equivalent of "going to the bathroom") and cut off end of Saul's skirt.
Saul went in to cover his feet ... Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily. 1 Samuel 24:3-4
This feat impressed Saul so much that he said:
Thou art more righteous than I ... And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king. 24:17-20
And I suppose that I'd be pretty impressed too, if someone cut off my shirttail or something with a sword while I was doing my business without me even noticing.
After David's amazing bathroom caper, he hung out "in the wilderness" with a gang of outlaws. While there, he heard about a rich man named Nabal and decided to send ten of his "young men" to pay him a visit. So they went and introduced themselves to Nabal and told him to give them whatever he owned.
Give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David. 25:8
But Nabal was on to their protection racket. He refused to give his belongings to people he didn't even know just to get them to go away and leave him alone.
Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be? 25:10-11
When David heard about it, he swore he'd kill Nabal and all of his men (everyone that pisses against a wall).
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall. 25:22
Meanwhile, Nabal's wife, Abigail, decided to go visit David and try to smooth things over a bit. She brought lots of food and wine.
Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses. 25:18
And the bribe worked. David said that he no longer planned to kill every last swinging dick (those that piss against the wall).
Except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall. 25:34
Abigail returned home and found that Nabal was partying with his friends, celebrating his freedom from David's extortion. She waited until he woke up the next morning, since he was too drunk the night before to tell him what had happened. (That she gave David a huge bribe to keep him from killing Nabal and his men.) When she told him, he had a stroke or heart attack and was paralyzed.
In the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 25:37
About ten days later, God killed him.
And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died. 25:38
When David heard that Nabal was dead,
He said, Blessed be the LORD ... And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife. 25:39
So God killed Nabal and David got his wife along with all his other stuff.
(Actually he got two new wives, Abigail and Ahinoam, along with five other "damsels". But Saul gave away his first wife to some other guy. So, for those keeping score, I guess he gained seven wives and lost one. I don't know what happened to all the wall pissers.)
73. David commits random acts of genocide for the Philistines
In 1 Samuel 24, David snuck in and cut off Saul's skirt while he (Saul, that is) was defecating. And Saul didn't even notice.
Yeah, well, that worked out so well for David that he decided to try something like it again. This time, though, he snuck into Saul's camp and stole his sword and water jug while Saul was sleeping.
So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him ... So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them. 1 Samuel 26:7-12
Not nearly as impressive, I'd say. Especially when you consider that "a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them." That sounds like cheating to me.
But Saul went gaga over it, just like he did for David's last trick. Here's what he said when David waved Saul's sword and water jug in front of him.
I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. ... Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. 26:21-25
But David still didn't trust Saul, so he decided to join up with the Philistines. And every day he and his men would go out and slaughter people. The Philistine king would ask him, "Hey David, who'd you slaughter today" and he'd say, "Oh the south of Judah, or the Jerahmeelites, or the Kenites, or the Geshurites, or the Gezrites, or the Amalekites, or the Egyptians."
And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites ... even unto the land of Egypt. ... And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to day? And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites. 27:8-10
He was a killing machine. Every day he slaughtered thousands of people for the Philistines.
And David saved neither man nor woman alive. 27:11
So the Philistine king, Achish, loved David because David killed Israelites along with everybody else.
And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever. 27:12
(David brags about at least six genocides in 1 Sam 27:8-10. So I'll add another 60,000 to the total, 10,000 for each genocide.)
74. David spends the day killing Amalekites
While David was hanging out with the Philistines performing daily acts of genocide for them (73), disaster struck. The Philistines were attacked by the Amalekites.
That's right, the Amalekites. You know, the ones that God hates more than any other people, and that's saying something since God hates everyone except for the Israelites (and he hates them sometimes, too).
How much does God hate the Amalekites? Well, just listen to him.
The LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. Exodus 17:16
Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it. Deuteronomy 25:19
Thus saith the LORD of hosts ... go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:2-3
So we know for sure that God hates Amalekites. That's why he ordered the Israelites to kill them all. And the Israelites did just that (67, 68).
Yet here, just a few years after they were completely killed in a God-ordered genocide, they attack the Philistines. I guess sometimes you have to kill people several times to make sure they're not merely dead, but positively, absolutely, undeniably, reliably, and sincerely dead.
What I find especially interesting in this story, though, is that the Amalekites show some mercy to the Philistines. Rather than utterly destroying them, slaying "both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" as God told the Israelites to do to them, they "slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way."
The Amalekites ... slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. 1 Samuel 30.1-2
Yet the most common excuse that believers give for God's genocidal commands on the Amalekites is that the Amalekites were so evil that they all had to be killed -- even their woman, children, infants, and babies.
When David and his merry men return to Ziklag (the Philistine city that the Amalekites destroyed), they wept until they couldn't weep any longer.
So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 30:3-4
Then they got up and talked about stoning David to death.
David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him. 30:6
Meanwhile, David asked a priest to use his ephod to ask God what he should do. (An ephod is sort of a biblical version of a magic eight ball or a coin toss. It only works on yes or no questions.)
David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? 30:7-8a
So the priest got out his trusty ephod and asked God if David should kill the Amalekites. God said "Heck Yeah. Go kill the Amalekites (one more time) and get back all your stuff."
He answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. 30:8b
So that's what they did. David and 400 of his men (he left 200 behind because they were just too tired to kill people) spent the day killing Amalekites. They killed them all, except for 400 guys who escaped on camels.
David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled. 30:17
So David got back all of his stuff, including his two wives.
David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. 30:18
And he shared the plunder will his men, even those that were too tired to kill.
David was such a nice guy. You can see why God liked him so much.
(The text doesn't say how many Amalekites were killed. I'll just say 1000.)
75. God killed Saul (and his sons and soldiers) for not killing all the Amalekites
In God's 67th killing, Saul killed every Amalekite man, woman, child, infant, and baby -- just like God told him to. Well, almost anyway. He kept one guy alive: King Agag. And God never forgave him for it.
Because Saul didn't completely perform God's commandment (to commit complete genocide on the Amalekites), God repented of making Saul king and gave his kingdom to David.
But that wasn't the only punishment God had in mind. Now God just needed to find a way to tell Saul about it.
He did it through a dead man (Samuel) who was brought back to life by a witch.
Samuel's ghost told Saul that tomorrow God would kill Saul and his sons by delivering the Israelite army into the hands of the Philistines.
Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore ... the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me [i.e., you and your sons will be dead]: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines. 1 Samuel 28:18-19
Well, I don't know if it was the next day or not but the Philistines attacked and the Israelites "fell down slain in mount Gilboa."
Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. 1 Samuel 31:1
So that left Saul and his sons. God took care of Saul
s sons by having the Philistines kill them. (I know it sounds cruel, but they deserved it since their father saved one Amalekite alive and God told him to kill them all.)
The Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul's sons. 1 Samuel 31:2
Saul must have been especially hard for God to kill, though, because he had to do it four different ways. Saul committed suicide.
Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. So Saul died. 1 Samuel 31:4
Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. 1 Chronicles 10:4
An Amalekite killed him.
And he [Saul] said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite. He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me. So I stood upon him, and slew him. 2 Samuel 1:8-10
The Philistines killed him.
The Philistines had slain Saul. 2 Samuel 21:12
God killed him.
So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14
But one way or another, God got the job done, and Saul, his three sons, and who knows how many Israelite soldiers all died -- because God was pissed off at Saul for the incomplete genocide of the Amalekites. Or was it for not inquiring of the Lord? I guess it really doesn't matter, does it? God can kill anyone for any reason, or for no reason at all, and every believer will be OK with it.
(Saul and his three sons were killed along with the Israelite soldiers. Since the Bible doesn't say anything about how many soldiers were killed, I guessed 100.)