Updated: Jun 20, 2021
One of the most frustrating insults against Christianity is that the Bible is a bunch of fairy tales. When people say that, I know they haven’t read the Bible
. Fairy tales are simple. They have clear heroes and villains, the princes are always handsome and charming, the girl is virtuous and unfairly treated, the witch is evil and ugly. Good always triumphs, the girl or child is rescued, everything resolves.
The Bible, on the other hand, reads more like Game of Thrones, especially books like Samuel and Kings and Chronicles. The tall, handsome Saul is anointed as king but has fits of rage and big failures. David has a hero’s start slaying Goliath, but becomes essentially a terrorist on the run, building a following to stage a coup’ de tat. Alliances are murky – David hangs out with the Philistines, but then later goes to war against them. The books of Samuel refuse to give us clear-cut stereotypes.
Unfortunately, the human brain, when stressed, loves to do some black-and-white thinking. When things are seen in polarities, it’s a lot easier to make decisions, assess danger, respond quickly. Whenever we feel under pressure, attached by someone, or any type of intense emotion, our brain leaps to quick conclusions, which mean that we make some unnuanced and potentially inaccurate judgment of ourselves and others. It’s a discipline to take some time for deep breaths, noticing things that we first missed, and allow some complexity.
Our relationships are similarly complex, but we often want to turn people into heroes and villains. Some people can do no wrong in our estimation, others can't do anything right. The books of Samuel remind us that none of us are purely good or purely evil, and our relationships are complex, confusing, and changeable.
Read more about the complexity of relationship in this reflection on 2 Samuel 1 by pastor Jude Waldron.