10 Stories from the Bible that Rarely Make it into Sermons

10 Stories from the Bible that Rarely Make it into Sermons

The body of Christ is built up and encouraged by those who have been given the gift to teach the Word of God. Preachers get up into the pulpit and expound on the text that God has graciously given us, but there are some stories that rarely seem to make their way into sermons. Whether it is because they are strange, have too much going on around them, or are just hard to understand, you may not hear these stories on Sunday.

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  • 1. Korah’s Failed Coup

    1. Korah’s Failed Coup

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    Korah was the great-grandson of Levi and was part of the Hebrews wandering the desert with Moses. He led an uprising against Moses’ leadership, and when Moses put the decision before the Lord to display who was the rightful leader of Israel, “the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.” Numbers 16:31-33 Korah’s defiance of the leadership given to Moses can be a good lesson in trusting in who God chooses to put in authority, but it is also so intense that many pastors don’t spend much time in this chapter.

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  • 2. The Loss of a Sword for the Death of a King

    2. The Loss of a Sword for the Death of a King

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    The domineering Moabite King Eglon probably envisioned a more honorable death than the one that found him. It wasn’t just that he was killed by left-handed Ehud from the tribe of Benjamin, but that the fate that befell him was even more embarrassing. “Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it.” Judges 3:20-22 For obvious reasons this story shows up more often in talks in the local youth group, but doesn’t always make its way to general service.  

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  • 3. Saul and the Sorceress at Endor

    3. Saul and the Sorceress at Endor

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    This one can make even solid Bible expositors uncomfortable, because it raises a multitude of questions about what actually happened. The scenario emerges out of King Saul’s desperation, who has lost favor with God, and Samuel the prophet/advisor to Saul has died. Saul ignores his own edict outlawing sorcery and consults a medium to allow him to talk with Samuel. In an unsettling turn of events, an apparitional Samuel shows up angry. “Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’” 1 Samuel 28:15 He goes on to tell Saul that due to his disobedience, David will reign and that Saul will be delivered to his enemies.

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  • 4. Rizpah the Devoted Mother

    4. Rizpah the Devoted Mother

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    The devoted mother Rizpah could be worth highlighting on Mother’s Day, but I’ve never heard it done. We often hear the story how David spares Mephibosheth out of devotion to Jonathan when the Gibeonites demand the lives of seven of Saul’s male descendants. However, this meant that Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, lost her two sons. They were slain and displayed on a hill along with five of Saul’s grandchildren, but, “Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night.” 2 Samuel 21:10 She stood watch over the bodies of her children for about five months to protect them from birds and animals. She did not cease until, David hearing about her vigil, allowed the bodies to be buried.

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  • 5. When Gehazi’s Greed Led to Leprosy

    5. When Gehazi’s Greed Led to Leprosy

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    The story of Naaman’s healing from leprosy after he obeyed Elisha’s instructions has made it into even children’s Bible story books, but we don’t usually hear about how Elijah’s assistant tried to greedily get some side action. Elisha had turned down tribute from Naaman for the work God had done, but Elisha’s servant followed.... “Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, ‘My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.’” 2 Kings 5:20 He bilked Naaman for silver and clothes, and then had the gall to lie to Elijah (a PROPHET of The LORD)! Verses 26-27 reveal his consequence “But Elisha said to him, ‘Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.’ Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.”

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  • 6. The Bald Man’s Bears

    6. The Bald Man’s Bears

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    Tucked away in 2 Kings 2:23-25, this story may give you nightmares. After Elijah is taken into heaven, “...Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. ‘Get out of here, baldy!’ they said. ‘Get out of here, baldy!’ He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.” After the touching goodbye and Elijah’s fiery departure, this story is a sobering reminder that God’s prophets were not to be trifled with.

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  • 7. Athalia’s Quest for Power

    7. Athalia’s Quest for Power

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    When people hear the name Jezebel they know it is associated with no good, but few recognize the name of Athalia who could have given her mama, ol’Jez, a run for her money. This story has plenty of royal intrigue and is filled with marriage treaties and regicide. Athalia was key to a marriage alliance between the northern kingdom (Israel), and Judah, when her father Ahab gave her to Judah’s king Jehoram. Jehoram was the son of Jehoshaphat who feared the Lord, and father to Ahaziah. When Jehoram died, Ahaziah became king and Athalia became Queen Mother. But when Ahaziah was killed only a year after ascending the throne, his mother went completely mad. “When Athalia the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah.” 2 Chronicles 22:10 Although her reign of terror lasted six years, Ahaziah’s son had been hidden away in the temple, and was given the throne when he emerged from hiding at age seven.

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  • 8. The Naked Prophet

    8. The Naked Prophet

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    The book of Isaiah is full of poetic imagery and messianic prophecy, but also has its own handful of strange occurrences. Isaiah got to foretell so much of the coming King, but had to yield his modesty to illustrate a forthcoming judgment. Often when we think of Isaiah we don’t think about those three years when he was wandering around scantily clad to prophesize the embarrassing future of Egypt and Cush. “At that time the LORD spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, ‘Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.’ And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. Then the LORD said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush,” Isaiah 20:2-3.

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  • 9. The Kid Who Needed Some Coffee but Instead Got a Miracle

    9. The Kid Who Needed Some Coffee but Instead Got a Miracle

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    We have all sat through sermons that threatened narcoleptic effects, but typically we are not dangling from third-story windows like Eutychus in Acts 20:9-10. “Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’” This is one of those stories where someone is raised miraculously from the dead, so it is surprising we don’t hear it more often. Maybe pastors prefer not to tell a story about how a long sermon almost killed someone.

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  • 10. The Fight for Moses’s Body

    10. The Fight for Moses’s Body

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    Jude’s short letter includes a casual mention of the Archangel Michael arguing with Satan over Moses’ body. While we see angels appear throughout the Bible, this mention is frequently avoided because people aren’t always sure what to do with it. It is one of those passages that pulls the curtain back on the spiritual warfare we are not always aware of, but seems to be warning about speaking with wanton disregard about spiritual beings. Jude 1:9 says, “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”

    The Bible is filled with amazing stories. Not all of them are easy to understand and some can strike the reader as strange, but they intertwine to tell God’s bigger story. The story of His Son come down to provide a redemption for the people God dearly loves. They show His glory, reveal His character, and proclaims the truth that leads us to Him.

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    Chara Donahue is a freelance writer who is working on her first book. She enjoys doing biblical counseling, speaking to women, and savoring coffee when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University, is passionate about seeing people set free through God's truths, and is the founder and editor of Anchored Voices. Get in touch with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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