Look at the conversations between David and Jonathan in the Bible. Most of these are completely private. How is it possible that the author of 1 Samuel was able to provide us with a transcript? Did he have a tape recorder? Did he have a magic mirror that he used to spy on them? Did God tell him while he wrote the scripture in some sort of trance? I must say, I was amazed that in all my Christian education, nobody had ever bought this up.
Alter offers what seems to be a pretty convincing explanation: that the author knows the important parts of the story and is filling in the details (read: making them up!) so as to give the story more power, memorability and literary beauty.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the role played by the narrator in the biblical tales is the way in which omniscience and unobtrusiveness are combined. The sweep of the biblical narrator’s authoritative knowledge extends from the very beginnings of things, which he can report down to the precise language and order of the divine utterances that brought the world into being, to the characters’ hidden thoughts and feelings, which he may summarize for us or render in detail as interior speech. He is all-knowing and also perfectly reliable: at times he may choose to make us wonder but he never misleads us.
-Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, p.183
He knows everything, but chooses to leave so much out sometimes!
Does that mean any of this stuff is “false” or “not true”? Well, no. It IS how stuff really happened, more or less. This shows though how you have to be really careful pulling big theological principals out of one isolated verse, especially if that phrase is dialog. The Bible is completely reliable for what it is, but what it is is sometimes more like a film with actors than raw documentary footage. I don’t think this diminishes the truth of scripture one bit. In fact, this is difficult to explain, but I think it makes studying the Bible even better!