One story I like a lot is the story in 1 Kings 22 where (evil king of Israel) Ahab asks (godly king of Judah) Jehoshaphat to go to war with him against the Arameans for some disputed property. Jehoshaphat agreed, but required Ahab to ask the Lord. So Ahab asked his prophets and they said really cool things, but concluded "Go up, for the Lord will give it into your hand." The truth is that the Lord said no such thing. These prophets lied, and the Bible accurately records those lies. Jeshoshaphat didn't buy it and asked for a second opinion ... you know ... from a real prophet. Micaiah was called and ordered, "Speak favorably." So he showed up and said, "Go up and succeed, and the LORD will give it into the hand of the king." Again, God said no such thing and the Bible accurately records the lie. Micaiah goes on to tell the truth (which is why we know it was a lie), tells the king, "The LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you." And, if you finish the story, the latter was the truth and Ahab dies. You can see, then, that in a historical narrative such as the books of the kings, the Bible is accurate if it accurately records a lie as a lie.
The suggestion has been made that this same sort of thing occurred over in 1 Samuel.
"Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey'" (1 Sam 15:2-3).Is it possible that this text, though clearly written as a historical narrative, accurately represents the prophet Samuel telling a lie? Is it possible that God said no such thing, and Samuel was making it up for his ulterior motives?
First, given the 1 Kings 22 passage, you have to admit that it's possible. The Bible does record lies. So, how do we determine if this was such a lie? Well, the fact that Saul acted on it is no indication. The Bible records people acting on lies. What is interesting is that Saul did not obey the full command. According to the account, "Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed" (1 Sam 15:9). But the result of Saul's choice not to carry the command through is telling, as it Samuel's response to God's response.
Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, "I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands." And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the LORD all night (1 Sa 15:10-11).Here we have a historic narrative that is presented not as a public display. In the first instance, Samuel told everyone that God had said such and such. In this instance, it is a private conversation between God and Samuel. Further, in this private conversation (which, therefore, isn't Samuel lying), God accuses Saul of having failed to follow His commands. If the command given in verses 2 and 3 were lies, then Saul didn't fail to follow God's commands. No, in fact, this would make Saul more of the hero. He recognized a false command when he saw it and didn't carry it out. Further, if Samuel intended to gain some power or achieve some ulterior agenda, why did he spend the night crying out to God?
I'm afraid this passage will not work as a recorded-but-accurate lie. The only conclusion that makes sense given the context of the events is that God actually spoke to Samuel when He gave the command to strike Amelek. Since that appears to be the only reasonable conclusion, we're left with only two possible choices here. Either the Bible is accurate in what it represents as historical narrative, or it is not. If it is not, we're left to our own devices to decide what we like or don't like as "true", and since the Bible presents itself as "the Word of God" ("God-breathed"), we would have to agree that this won't quite be the case. That whole sola scriptura thing, where the Bible is our sole source for matters of faith and practice is out. On the other hand, if we accept this account as a truthful account of an actual historical event, complete with God's words on the matter, we're left with serious questions regarding God, His motivations, and His goodness.
Now, I choose the latter. I believe that the Bible is true, that even this account is accurate, and that there really are good answers to these questions regarding God, His motivations, and His goodness. But feeding you answers isn't a good teaching tool. You'll have to think about this yourself for awhile and see what you come up with.