There are many beautiful, uplifting passages in the Bible: the Sermon on the Mount, the Song of Solomon, the Psalms. The stories of Jesus's teachings, and the works of the prophets before him, have given spiritual guidance to billions of people. But the Bible is a long book, and not every page of it is a soothing meditation on God's love.
Some passages can seem downright deranged from a modern perspective. These can range from the gruesome (slayings) to the terrifying (tales of supernatural vengeance) to the bewildering (kings demanding unusual gifts).
The Old Testament was written during a time of great turmoil for its authors. In the beginning, they were traveling through the desert, trying to stick together and survive. Once they did settle, they struggled against aggressive neighbors and internal divisions. They lived during a time of plagues, conflict, and people being enslaved - and their writing reflected it.
Saul is king of Israel, but he has a problem in the form of David. David is favored by God and keeps winning more and more fame and fortune. Eventually, Saul grows jealous and wants David out of the picture.
When David asks to marry Saul's daughter in 1 Samuel, the king demands an interesting spin on the proverbial pound of flesh.
In Numbers 31, God directs Moses to strike against the Midianites. Moses and the Israelites demolish their enemies but, as God commands, spare the virgin women for a genuinely reprehensible reason.
When two angels visit Lot in the city of Sodom, they don't get a very neighborly welcome. The men of the town assemble at Lot's house, demanding congress with the angels. Not wanting to offend his guests, Lot offers up his two pure daughters to the crowd instead.
The crowd refuses, so God wipes out the town, sparing only Lot and his daughters.
Before settling in Mount Carmel, the prophet Elisha travels to the city of Bethel, where the local youth mock him for being bald. In response, he curses them, and God sends two bears to take out 42 of the children.