Best and Worst: Bible Verses!

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“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you… and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

“Happy shall they be who seize your infants, And dashes them against the rocks!” (Psalms 137: 9)

Today’s “Best and Worst” post comes from Steve at Pine Mountain Walker, the originator of the “best and worst” series, with “Best and Worst Bible Verses.” Here is his choice for the #1 verse in the Bible, as well as a fun (and gruesome!) selection of “worst verses.” His comments are in blue, Hawkgrrrl style:

Best Verse:
John 8:32 (KJV): “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 
Here’s one teaser verse that, if taken literally, may be the most redeeming verse in the entire Bible. Thanks to Yeshua, or whoever authored it. I realize this leaves the door wide open for what “truth” may be…  and I’m happy to leave it at that.

Worst Verses:
Genesis 19.4-8: “Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house… they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intercourse with them.’ But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, ‘Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with a man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like…’
” At least these rapes aren’t condoned. Too bad he gave up his daughters though.

Exodus 32.27-29 (NRSV): “He said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “…each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.” ’ The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand of the people fell on that day. Moses said, ‘Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of a son or a brother, and so have brought a blessing on yourselves this day.’” Killing others in the name of God. Thankfully ministers are not ordained in this way today.

1 Samuel 15.2-3 (NRSV): “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'” Genocide in obedience to God.

1 Samuel 15.33 (ESV): “And Samuel said, ‘As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.’ And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
” This one is so disgusting that even the International Bible Society (owners of the NIV) decided to leave out the “hacked…to pieces part” and softened it considerably with simply “put…to death.”  Reminds me of a recent story about an Iraqi father “cleaning his honor” by stabbing his teenage daughter to death from head to foot for being friend swith a British soldier.  Read the NIV version to see how even Bible publishers want to soften the unethical deeds in the Bible.

2 Kings 2.23-24 (NKJV): “Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.” 
Balding folk may appreciate this one, but this is certainly a tough way to handle wayward youth…

Ezekiel 28.23 (NIV): “I will send a plague upon her and make blood flow in her streets.  The slain will fall within her, with the sword against her on every side.  Then they will know that I am the LORD.” 
So the LORD wants to be known by plagues and rivers of blood?  This is another good example of what I call “Scary God.”

Hosea 10.14 (NKJV): “Therefore tumult shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be plundered as Shalman plundered Beth Arbel in the day of battle—a mother dashed in pieces upon her children.
 So God is really targeting the children again and now throwing in their mothers!  Chopping people to pieces…  God’s no greenhorn at this.

What is your favorite verse in the Bible? Why is it inspiring to you? What verse(s) would you add to Steve’s “Worst” list? Why?

Comments 13

  1. Re: 1 Samuel 15.33, I tossed that back at some Prod protestors of our local Temple dedication, when they asked how I could possibly believe in a prophet “who killed people.” (Evidently they thought Joseph was a better shot at Carthage Jail than he actually was.) The two Bible experts didn’t know about Samuel chopping up Agag while the man pleaded “delicately” for his life.

  2. The best verse is found in both Psalms and in the D&C, it’s helped me deal with a LOT of problems: “Be still and know that I am God.”

    The worst? Let’s… just say what Lot’s daughters decide to do after they flee Sodom.

  3. For best–actually half a verse in Abraham 2:16 Therefore, eternity was our covering and our rock and our salvation as we journeyed. . .

    For worst–how about the Levite’s concubine at the end of the book of Judges.

  4. Thomas – I’m wondering why these verses get glossed over–or even ignored or missed (by Bible “experts” even, haha!)… because they’ve been around so long? Because no one reads them? Because “it’s just the Bible”? Regardless, I didn’t expect this post to be controversial, perhaps due to that fact – it’s the Bible. “We all know it’s full of crazy stuff” so whooptedoo? 🙂

    Dave P – I like that best verse as well… I often forget even just the first part, “be still.”

    MC – That’s a great worst verse! Even worse is the chapter heading that’s supposed to explain what’s happening when the concubine is raped(?) to death, and hacked to pieces: “All Israel arises against Benjamin, who refuse to deliver up the men of Gibeah—Benjamites are smitten and destroyed.”
    Seems a little deceiving – couldn’t we have been warned a little more, perhaps with some Bible-MA rating or something? Definitely rated R anyway. 🙂

  5. Do you ever get the feeling with the “Be still” verse that God is speaking to us like I (and I bet others…) speak to my two year hold: “Just hold still! I’m your dad, and I’m trying to help you!”

  6. Haha exactly. I often find myself saying something like that verse out of Isaiah to my 3 year-old: “come now, and let us reason together..”

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  8. Makes you wonder just what the Bible may be leaving out…and just what true morality constitutes, since even to us as members these things can cause us to cringe a bit. Does require a bit of faith to believe that God is justified in all of this, don’t you think? Though, realizing that death by hacking is not nearly the worst of our problems gives a good eternal perspective, I suppose. And good point, Thomas. I should use that one next time.

    I can at least appreciate why some people will become decidedly atheistic after looking at the Old Testament. As long as they don’t try to argue that he’s a megalomaniacal genocidal being, and then call themselves moral relativists 😉 The Spirit really helps on this one.

  9. “Does require a bit of faith to believe that God is justified in all of this”

    I don’t disagree with that statement, but I also like to look through the eyes and culture of the time (as much as that is even possible) in interpreting the bible. How much of what happened did the people or writers ascribe to God? How much did they do and then say, “well, God told me to”? etc.

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