Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Books of Samuel

Go To

“Further, say thus to My servant David: 'Thus said the LORD of Hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the flock, to be ruler of My people Israel, and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut down all your enemies before you. Moreover, I will give you great renown like that of the greatest men on earth.’”
2 Samuel 7:8-9

The ninth and tenth books of The Bible.

The first book tells the story of Samuel who is dedicated by his mother to the priesthood. He grows up to be the most important religious and political figure of his day, becoming the last shofet or "Judge" of Israel (in the sense meant by the Book of Judges) and (somewhat reluctantly) helps establish the Israelite kingship.


The second book tells of the kingship of David, Israel's greatest king and (in the Christian tradition) ancestor of Jesus.

The first book provided the inspiration for the famous David sculpture, while Joseph Heller's God Knows — with a litle meta — retold the Books of Samuel as a whole.

The Books of Samuel are followed by the Books of Kings. In some old Catholic and Orthodox bibles, the books are sometimes confusingly called 1 Kings and 2 Kings, with the later Books of Kings being 3 and 4 Kings in suit.


Structure of the books:

1st Samuel:
  • The story of Samuel the prophet (1st Samuel 1:1-7:17)
  • Transition of the Monarchy (1st Samuel chapter 8)
  • The story of Saul (1st Samuel 9:1-15:38)
  • The story of Saul and David (1st Samuel 16:1-31:13)

2nd Samuel:

  • Story of King David (2nd Samuel 1:1-20:26)
  • Epilogue (2nd Samuel 21:1-24:25)

These books contain the following tropes

  • 20 Bear Asses: Saul offered his daughter's hand in marriage to David, if David could bring him 100 Philistine foreskins. David one-upped him and brought back 200.
  • 100% Heroism Rating: David! So much so that when he was the head of Saul’s armies before becoming king, the women of Israel sang, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands!”
  • Accomplice by Inaction: Eli the high priest is regarded as this by God for not taking a more proactive stance to remove his wicked sons from serving as priests, and thus was cursed to die on the same day as his sons.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: David had a habit of fighting civil wars against his own family members, so he often engages in this trope.
    • When Saul and Jonathan (David’s father- and brother-in-law) are killed in battle, David writes a song of lamentation for both of them. While Jonathan had long been David’s Heterosexual Life-Partner, Saul had tried to kill David on several occasions. David still greatly mourns for the man who was once like a father to him.
    You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul
    Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet
    Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
    How the mighty have fallen in the midst of battle!
    — 2 Samuel 1:24-25 (English Standard Version)
  • Altar Diplomacy: A variation of this trope occurs in 2nd Samuel chapter 3, where Abner son of Ner makes a treaty with King David to transfer rulership of all the other tribes of Israel to David on the agreement that David's first wife Michal (who was given over to another man when David was on the run and presumed to be dead or a deserter) would be returned to him. Michal was then brought to David with her second husband following behind crying, until he was told to return home.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The ark of God is treated as this in these books. In 1st Samuel, when the Israelites were first defeated by the Philistines, they realize that if they could carry the ark of God into battle, God would have to fight for them and wipe out their enemies. As it turns out, though, God not only lets the Israelites be defeated by the Philistines again, He also allows the ark to be taken into Philistine territory, where it causes trouble among their people until they decide to have it be brought back to the Israelites by putting it on a cart driven by oxen alongside a trespass offering and have the oxen take it away.
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • Goliath is wearing more than a hundred pounds of armor, including a bronze helmet. However, the rock David fires at Goliath kills him instantly by going through his eye socket, which presumably was not covered by the helmet.
    • David also rejects Saul's armor, as it's far too big for him.
  • Artifact Title: Samuel only played a significant role in the beginning of the first book, then died in the middle and is not mentioned in the second. Those books focus more on King David.
  • Asshole Victim: Goliath, Absalom, Amnon, King Saul, Joab (eventually), the Philistines and the Amalekites.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Inverted at Saul’s inauguration, which instead became an Awesome Moment of De-Crowning, specifically about how Israel had dethroned Samuel and, by extension, God. To demonstrate this point, Samuel calls for rain in the summer season, when it is least likely to rain. The subsequent thunder and rain greatly frightens the people of Israel, who ask Samuel to intercede for them.
  • Babies Ever After: God was so pleased at Hannah giving her firstborn to His service after years of infertility that He made her quite fertile from that point on. She proceeds to have five more children.
  • Baby as Payment: Samuel's mother Hannah prays to God for a son and promises that she will give him to the priests to raise when he's old enough. Sure enough, she gives birth to Samuel and keeps her promise. This is related to the Jewish practice of pidyon haben, "redemption of the firstborn", in which a priest is paid 5 silver shekels (or an equivalent value) to symbolically redeem a firstborn male child (it is considered unnecessary if the boy is preceded by a girl or a miscarriage, born by caesarean section, or the father is himself a priest).
  • Badass Boast: In 2nd Samuel chapter 5, when David and his men set their sights on conquering Jersualem, the Jebusites resist with a boast that "even the blind and the lame will turn you away.” This didn't work for the Jebusites, as David and his men succeeded in conquering the city, and as a curse, "the blind and the lame" are not allowed to enter into God's house — a curse that endured into the day of Jesus' earthly ministry and that of the early church.
  • Badass Crew: 2nd Samuel has a list of Badasses who worked for King David, and were referred to as the "Mighty Men". The list is filled with stories of people killing off hundreds of people singlehanded, or fighting wild animals.
  • Badass Israeli: A whole lot of them, probably most notably David and his mighty men. Saul was no wimp either.
  • Bad News in a Good Way: When King David asks a Cushite officer announcing his victory over Absalom whether Absalom is still alive, the Cushite rather tactfully replies that he hopes all of King David's enemies end up sharing that young fellow's fate.
  • Bastard Understudy: How Saul comes to view David, as the Lord has departed from Saul and His Spirit is now resting on David to give him success in battle.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The people of Israel ask Samuel for a king, believing this will bring greater stability to Israel. Samuel warns them about how oppressive kings can be, but they ignore his warning. The truth of Samuel’s warnings, though, isn’t apparent until a few kings later.
    Rehoboam: “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” – 1 Kings 12:14
  • Betrayal by Offspring: David's son, Absalom, turns against his father and seizes Jerusalem driving David beyond the Jordan River. Absalom then rules for a time as a regent and self-declared king before being slain by his father's Number Two, Joab, in the Battle of Ephraim Wood. Despite Absalom's revolt against him, David weeps over his death.
  • Better Than Sex: In the Song of the Bow from 2nd Samuel chapter 1, David says Jonathan's love for him surpassed that of the love of women.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Saul chooses to kill himself rather than let the Philistines capture him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The families of David and his mighty men, including David’s wives, Abigail and Ahinoam, were kidnapped by the Amalekites. David’s men nearly stoned him in their anguish, but after David prayed to the LORD, he led to his men to reclaim their lost families and property.
    “Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all.” — 1 Samuel 30:19 (English Standard Version)
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: David’s family! Amnon rapes his half-sister, Absalom kills Amnon and then plots sedition against his father, Adonijah plots to take over the kingdom when David was near death and no successor was officially named, and most of David's other sons just go along with the whole thing like it's no big deal.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Phinehas' wife goes into labor when she heard that her father-in-law and husband were dead, and she gives birth to Ichabod (meaning "The Glory is not") around the time of her death.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: King David had thirty elite One-Man Army soldiers to act as his personal bodyguards, but he's such a badass he probably didn't need them anyway. Although as David does get older, he had to be told to stay home in Jerusalem so that the "lamp of Israel" doesn't get snuffed out when he almost got killed in battle and one of his men came to his rescue.
  • Bowdlerize: David's adulterous affair with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband Uriah is downplayed in most retellings of the story for children as David wanting to marry Bathsheba, but after finding out that she is married to Uriah, orders for him to be killed in battle so that he could legally marry Bathsheba. The same accounts also downplay or leave out entirely David's multiple wives before Bathsheba.
  • Brats with Slingshots: Notably not David, though many, many people believe he used one. What he really used was a sling, a weapon that relied on built-up centrifugal force to propel a dense bullet at high speed against a target; it did not use elasticity to propel the projectile in any meaningful way. In ancient-world terms it was more like a difficult-to-aim gun than a kid's toy.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Actually, half-brother and half-sister, but Amnon's rape of Tamar qualifies. The attraction between them was only one way, as Amnon was more interested in Tamar than she was in him. Tamar tries to reason with Amnon by telling him to speak to King David about giving her to him as a wife, hoping that what he intended to do to her wouldn't happen, but Amnon was too much in the heat of passion to even care.
  • Bunker Woman: David's unnamed ten concubines, who slept (very probably under duress) with Absalom when he took over Jerusalem during his coup. After David took back the city, he took revenge on them by having them locked away in a secluded ward of the palace, and "fed them, but went not in unto them," until they died.
  • Burn the Witch!: When he became king, Saul was noted for executing witches among the Israelites. Later on, though, he proved to be a hypocrite by consulting the Witch of Endor to find out about his fate in battle.
  • Bury Your Disabled: Inverted by Mephibosheth, who is the only member of the House of Saul to survive David’s reign and continue the family line. Likely a case of Disability Immunity, as Mephibosheth’s lameness prevented him from fighting in the civil war and thus avoiding David’s wrath.
  • Catch the Conscience:
    • In 2nd Samuel chapter 12, following David's adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, the prophet Nathan tells him the story of a rich man who took the beloved lamb of his poor neighbor to serve to his dinner guest, despite having many fat sheep of his own. David is outraged and demands to know who the man is who could have done such a thing. Nathan tells him.
    • In 2nd Samuel chapter 14, Joab gets a woman from Tekoa to pose as a mourning widower that was coming to the king about protecting her last surviving son who killed his brother in an argument from being slain by her relatives, all for the purpose of getting David to recognize the wrongness in not bringing back his son Absalom from exile.
  • Civil War: First between Saul and David, then between Ish-Bosheth and David, and later between David and his son Absalom.
  • Combat by Champion: David Versus Goliath, the most famous example in history.
  • Combat Pragmatist: David defeats his massive and well-equipped foe by pegging him in the face from a distance.
  • Comforting the Widow: In 1st Samuel chapter 25, after God avenged David by having Nabal die of a heart attack, David makes a proposal to Nabal's wife Abigail to become his wife. She immediately accepts and becomes the second of three wives that David married in the narrative at that point.
  • Curse:
    • In 1st Samuel chapter 14, King Saul calls a curse on the man who eats food before the evening comes and the king gets his revenge on his enemies, the Philistines. Saul's son Jonathan, who hasn't heard the curse, defies it by eating a bit of honey that he found on the ground. Although Jonathan accepts the responsibility for the curse when his father found out what had happened, the Israelites protected Jonathan from death because he had helped them bring about a great victory.
    • Although not outrightly stated as a curse, when David's first wife Michal criticizes David for his "unholy" dancing, the text says that she had no children to the day of her death.
  • David Versus Goliath:
    • Trope Namer. Goliath was more or less Bible Times' André the Giant — some translations put him at over nine feet tall!note  David, meanwhile, was hammered home as the runt of his family, the youngest of ten siblings and not much older than 18 when Goliath bellowed his challenge to Saul's army.
    • On a political level, David and Saul. Saul was not a short man, and was God's anointed king (for a time) with direct control of the army. That's stiff competition for a former sheep herder.
  • Dead Animal Warning: Saul cuts an oxen apart and has its dismembered body parts sent to all the cities of Israel, a warning that the same dismemberment will happen to the livestock of any who do not fight against Nahash the Ammonite. Three hundred thousand soldiers answer the call.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Although Absalom's sister Tamar did not die after the rape by her half-brother Amnon, her public disgrace from the rape is treated as such so that Absalom named his own daughter Tamar as one of his last acts of honor.
  • Dead Guy on Display:
    • Saul, after he was killed in 1st Samuel chapter 31, had his head cut off and his body put on display by the Philistines gloating over their victory in their battle with the Israelites. The people of Jabesh Gilead, when they heard of the desecration of Saul's body, stole it from Beth Shan and buried it under a tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted for seven days.
    • The seven grandsons and sons of Saul who are sent to Gibeon to be killed and left to hang. Rizpah, the mother of two of them, guards the bodies from scavengers until David has them taken down.
  • Death by Childbirth: Phinehas' wife dies while giving birth to her child, which she names Ichabod ("no glory"), for "the glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken."
  • Death by Falling Over: Eli in 1st Samuel, when he was sitting by the roadside and got the news that his two sons were killed in battle and the Ark of God had been taken away, fell over from his seat, broke his neck, and died when he heard about the Ark of God.
  • Death by Irony: Absalom was admired for his great strength and long hair. But once his rebellion failed, and he was fleeing for his life, his hair (or perhaps his whole head) got caught in some oak branches. This allowed Joab to kill him rather easily.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: In 1st Samuel, Abigail's husband Nabal dies of a heart attack, clearing the way for David to make Abigail his wife. In 2nd Samuel, David engineers the death of Bathsheba's husband Uriah to keep him from finding out about the affair she had with David, and soon afterward David marries Bathsheba.
  • Defiled Forever:
    • David's daughter Tamar, who was raped by her half-brother Amnon, who ended up living in her other brother Absalom's house as a desolate woman. This eventually results in Absalom getting even with Amnon by having him killed in a private little party.
    • David's ten concubines by his own son Absalom going into them when he took over as king. To protect them, David had the concubines shut up afterward and no longer went into them, forcing them to live the rest of their lives in widowhood.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The rejection of Saul as king just for doing some of Samuel's duties may seem like this at the outset, but the high priest makes sure the king does God's commands to the letter. Saul tries to bypass this and concentrate all power on himself. He was a tyrant in the making.
    • Also, when Nabal insults David and refuses to give him any food or aid, David plans to return the favor by slaughtering him and his household. He is persuaded not to by Nabal's wife, Abigail, at almost the last minute.
  • Divine Right of Kings: Both Saul and David are specifically chosen by God to be Israel’s kings. While Saul is clearly chosen for his great size, God also chooses David, the youngest and smallest of the sons of Jesse, despite Samuel’s objections.
    ”For the LORD sees not as man sees: the man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (English Standard Version)
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: In the Message translation, Abner tells Asahel when the latter wouldn't let up on chasing after the former, “Turn back. Don’t force me to kill you. How would I face your brother Joab?” (2nd Samuel 2:22)
  • Dream Team: David assembles an elite squad of thirty "mighty men" to be his personal guard. All of them had impressive achievements in battle, including one who killed 800 Philistines in one day, one who single-handedly defended a field, and one who "killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day."
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Saul, when the battle at Mount Gilboa turned against him and his sons, and he couldn't get his shield bearer to kill him so he wouldn't be abused by the Philistines.
    • Ahithophel, when Absalom seeks advice as for what to do with King David when he was driven from the kingdom, and prefers Hushai's advice over Ahithophel's.
  • Due to the Dead: The funeral pyres for Saul and his three sons and the burial of their ashes at the end of 1 Samuel. David later has the ashes reburied in the family tomb along with the remains of the seven men who had been killed for their ancestor's massacre of the Gibeonites.
    • David takes care of Mephibosheth as a way of honoring his friend, Jonathan.
    • In 2nd Samuel chapter 10 (also repeated in 1st Chronicles chapter 19), David sends counselors to King Nahash's son Hanun to comfort him concerning his father's death, only for his counselors to be shamefully treated and sent back in embarrassment because Hanun thought David actually sent his men to spy out his kingdom. This ultimately led to a war between the two kings that resulted in a massive defeat for the Ammonites and their allies, the Syrians.
  • Easily Forgiven: David forgives Abner (who led Saul’s armies during Saul’s civil war with David), Absalom (his son who led a rebellion against him), and Absalom’s supporters. Forgiveness for the first is subverted by Joab, and the latter by Solomon.
  • End of an Era: 1 Samuel depicted the final reign of the judges and the beginning of the Kingdom Of Israel.
  • Enemy Mine: David works for Philistines while on the run from Saul. Once he becomes king of Israel, he goes back to battling them.
  • Empathic Environment: Invoked by Samuel, who calls for a storm at Saul’s inauguration as a sign that God is unhappy that Israel has chosen a human king over their heavenly King.
  • The Evil Prince: David's sons Amnon (raped his half-sister) and Absalom (led a rebellion). Later Adonijah, a much less overt and more underhanded type.
  • The Exile: Absalom becomes this when he kills his half-brother Amnon in a private little party and flees to another country. It takes Joab using an old woman from Tekoa pretending to be a mourner to talk some sense into King David to have Absalom returned to his own country. Unfortunately, this also leads to Absalom's seditious acts against his own father as he gathers support from most of Israel to have him be king instead of his father David.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: In 1st Samuel, when it came the time for prophet Samuel to anoint the new king, God instructed him to go to a house of a certain Jesse who had many sons. He inspected them, and they were no doubt strong, smart, and reputable, but to the surprise of Jesse and probably Samuel too, none of them were to be the king. Samuel, wondering whether he or God had mistaken the house, asked whether those were really all Jesse's sons. There was one more, a young boy who preferred to spend time alone tending the sheep. Guess which one became the king.
  • Eye Scream: Saul's first great act was saving a city under siege from a warlord who would let them live if they allowed him to gouge out their eyes.
  • Face Death with Dignity: In 1st Samuel chapter 15, when King Agag is brought before Samuel the prophet after being spared by King Saul, the Amalekite king was thinking he would be given a merciful death, only to find himself being hacked to pieces by Samuel, who told him, "As your sword made women childless, so may your mother be childless among them."
  • Fake Defector:
    • David decides to offer his services to a Philistine lord in order to hide himself from King Saul. It works for a little over a year until the other Philistine lords see him and the other Hebrews with David and suspect that he is this trope working undercover to take down the Philistines from within in order to please his "true master".
    • Hushai the Arkite became this when he served David's son Absalom during his reign of sedition, in order to find out Absalom's plans regarding his own father. Hushai does such a good job that he manages to convince the traitorous prince to take the precise strategy that would in fact help his father far more to defeat the rebellion.
  • The Famine: In 2nd Samuel chapter 21, there was a famine in Israel that lasted for three years. David found out from the Lord that it was because of Saul's bloody slaughter of the Gibeonites, the people whom the Israelites had bound themselves with an oath to protect. The Gibeonites ask for seven of Saul's sons to be killed, and David gives them Armoni and Mephiboshethnote , the two sons of Rizpah, the daughter of Saul's concubine Aiah, and the five adopted sons of Michal, whom she brought up for her sister Merab's husband, and had them hanged before the Gibeonites. He also brings the bones of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesh Gilead and reburies them in the tomb of Saul's father Kish, and thus God was entreated by David and the famine had ended.
  • Fatal Flaw
    • Saul's tendency to follow his own way rather than waiting for a command from God.
    • David's inability to control his sex drive, which lead to the poor discipline of his children.
    • Joab's violence.
  • Fat Bastard: Eli is described as a heavy man, implying sloth, and, other than giving his sons a mild scolding, he doesn't move against them as soon as they abuse the priesthood to steal food offerings, act promiscuously, and insult God. Upon finding out his sons have been struck down in their arrogance, and that the ark of God had been taken, Eli's fat gets the better of them and he dies by falling onto his neck. Even the message God gives to Eli through young Samuel about his sons, which Samuel is forced to tell at the threat of a curse, doesn't do anything to change him; it simply makes him realize that his goose is cooked.
  • Final Solution: What God, through Samuel, orders King Saul to do the Amalekites, and is punished for being insufficiently thorough in the extermination.
  • Forgiveness Requires Death: In 2nd Samuel chapter 12, Nathan the prophet tells King David that his sin with Bathsheba is exposed before God. David confesses that he has sinned before the Lord, and Nathan tells David that he has been forgiven, though because David has been spared from death, the Lord will punish David for his deeds by having his firstborn son with Bathsheba die in his place. Some Bible students say this is a prefigure of the future Son of David, Jesus Christ, dying for the sins of the world, being our sacrificial substitute for our forgiveness.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: David, but really God. (See page quote above.)
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: David danced before the Lord in an ephod when he successfully brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem as per the Lord's instructions. His wife Michal treats it as though he was dancing naked in public.
  • Get Out!:
    • Amnon says this to his half-sister Tamar after he had raped her in 2nd Samuel chapter 13. When she wouldn't leave because she said it would be worse than what he did to her, Amnon had his servants force her out.
    • In 2nd Samuel chapter 16, Shimei son of Gera was yelling to King David while he was on the run from Absalom: "Get out of here! Get out of here! You are a murderer! You are despicable! The LORD has paid you back for all the blood of Saul's family, in whose place you rule, and the LORD has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You are in this trouble because you are a murderer!" (2nd Samuel 16:7-8, Common English Bible)
  • Give the Baby a Father: David knocked up Bathsheba while she was still married to Uriah the Hittite. David tries to get Uriah to go home and enjoy company with his wife to prevent her from being put to death, but Uriah refuses to do so, even when David made him drunk, so David ordered for him to be put in the front of the hottest battle where he may be killed. After Uriah's death, David did the "honorable thing" and married Bathsheba so that her child wouldn't be without a father. But the thing that he did still displeased the Lord.
  • God Is Displeased: A few examples.
    • God was displeased with Saul for not killing all of the Amalekites and rejects him as king and replaces him with David.
    • God was also very displeased with David's Uriah Gambit and subsequent marriage to Bathsheba, so he punished the household with public shame and war.
    • God wasn't pleased when David was moved to count the number of the people of Israel, even when Joab tried to talk some sense into the king that such a thing wasn't necessary, since God promised to multiply the people of Israel like the stars in the sky.
  • Good Is Not Soft: In 2nd Samuel chapter 7, God tells King David that He will set up one of David's sons to be king after him and he will build the Temple of the Lord. In verses 14 to 15, God says, "I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me. When he goes astray, I will correct him with the rod of men and afflictions of the sons of men. My commitment will not abandon him, as I removed it from Saul, whom I deposed before you."
  • The Good King: David is the Biblical archetype. His portrayal in Samuel is really a subversion, however, since the books are very frank in relating much of both the dirty politics of the era and David's own personal failings.
  • Grief Song: The Song of the Bow in 2nd Samuel chapter 1, where King David sings the loss of King Saul as well as his friend Jonathan, who both died in the battle at Mount Gilboa.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: King Saul changes his views on David every chapter. David actually has to prove twice that he has no intention to kill him.
  • Hereditary Curse:
    • God cursed the family line of Eli for Eli not taking hard measures against his two sons misusing their position as priests unto God.
    • Because Joab had killed Abner after David had sent him away in peace, David cursed not only Joab, but also the rest of his family with painful hardships.
    • God does this to David's family after David has an affair with Bathsheba and has her husband killed.
  • Heroic BSoD: David suffers one when he receives the news that Absalom has been killed. Joab has to snap him out of it with a What the Hell, Hero? speech accusing him of ruining morale by caring more for his traitorous son than his loyal followers.
  • A Hero Is Born: 1st Samuel starts off with the conception and birth of its first main protagonist Samuel the prophet.
  • Holy Is Not Safe
    • The Ark of the Covenant proves to be an equal-opportunity Doomsday Device in 1 Samuel 4-7. The Israelites bring the Ark onto the field of battle, which scares the Philistines into fighting harder instead. They capture it, then make the mistake of keeping it in the same room as an idol of Dagon. God breaks the statue and smites the Philistines with a plague of tumorsnote  and rats. The Philistine cities play hot potato with the Ark for a while before sending it back to Israel with a guilt offering. Aaaand the Israelites promptly have a whole bunch of people die from looking into the Ark.
    • When David visited Ahimelech the high priest while on the run from King Saul in 1st Samuel chapter 21 and asks if the priest has any common bread to eat, Ahimelech says that they only have consecrated bread, which was only for the priests to eat. However, Ahimelech is willing to give David the bread if him and his friends have kept themselves from women. David replies, “Surely women have been kept from us as previously when I set out and the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy?”
    • As David tried to bring the Ark on a cart into Jerusalem and the oxen stumbled, Uzzah used his hand to steady the Ark lest it fall off the cart, and he was promptly struck dead for doing so.
  • Honor Before Reason: During a battle with the Philistines, Saul disrupted his own army by making them swear that they will not eat or drink until they have won. They had no choice but to obey, and the enemy escaped. Only Jonathan thought this was dumb.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Trope Namer. Part of David's eulogy for King Saul and Jonathan, though it is how the king has fallen in battle, not how he has fallen in might.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: King Saul in 1st Samuel chapter 13, when he saw that his troops were fleeing before the Philistines, and Samuel the prophet didn't come at the time Saul was expecting him to come to offer up the sacrifice to God, so he decided to offer the sacrifice himself. God was less than pleased with this attitude and fired him.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Twice when David had the opportunity to kill King Saul whenever the king was nearby, David refused, even as at the first time he only cut off a corner of the king's robe and his heart was smitten, realizing that King Saul was still the LORD's anointed and he cannot touch the anointed and be considered guiltless. Both incidents ended up with Saul and David walking away with their lives. Unfortunately, Saul still didn't get it.
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: Michal was appalled by David’s celebratory dancing when the Ark was returned to Jerusalem, but David is unashamed. His response doesn't really do much of anything to help save the relationship between them, though.
    Michal: How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!
    David: It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me prince over Israel, the people of the LORD—and I will celebrate before the LORD. I will make myself more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.
    2 Samuel 6:20-22 (English Standard Version)
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Joab's brother Asahel by Abner, when he refused to turn aside from chasing after Abner. Then Abner by Joab himself in revenge. Then Absalom by Joab and his men. And then Amasa by Joab after David replaced him as the commander of his armies. Finally there was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, who killed an Egyptian with his own spear.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Philistines had a monopoly on weapons so the Israelites (with the exception of Saul & Jonathan) had to weaponise their farm tools. The Philistines promised not to go to war with Israel if they destroyed all of their weapons. The Israelites, being Too Dumb to Live, complied. They regretted their decision almost immediately.
  • Incest-ant Admirer: Amnon was heavily attracted to his half-sister Tamar. When he managed to get her alone, he tried to coerce her into having sex with him. Tamar protested and he eventually raped her, which would later indirectly cause him to get murdered by Absalom.
  • Insists on Paying: When God told King David to go to the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite in 2nd Samuel chapter 24 to build an altar to the Lord in order to stop the plague sent upon Israel, David tells Araunah that he wants to purchase the threshing floor. Araunah was willing to give the threshing floor and the oxen and the wood free of charge to the king, but King David insists on buying the property, saying that he would not make sacrifices to the Lord with offerings that cost him nothing. In the book of 1st Chronicles (which repeats the same story), the threshing floor becomes the site for the future Temple that King David's son Solomon would build during his reign.
  • It's All My Fault:
    • David bravely comes clean and says "I have sinned against the Lord" when Nathan the prophet confronts him with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and killing her husband Uriah to cover it up. Because he repents, the Lord lets him live but still punishes him.
    • Earlier on, David takes responsibility for King Saul having Doeg the Edomite massacre the priests of God, knowing that his brief encounter with the high priest with Doeg present has doomed them.
  • Just a Kid: David gets this reaction from King Saul in 1st Samuel chapter 17 when he declares that he will slay Goliath the giant. King Saul says, "You're just a youth, and he [Goliath] has been a man of war from his youth." David tells King Saul how with God's help he had slain a lion and a bear while still just a youth, and that with God's help he will also conquer the giant.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Doeg the Edomite slaughters a village for aiding David, on Saul's orders. He is never mentioned again. (Although one Rabbinical tradition says that David personally kills him later, and it can be assumed he goes to Hell when he dies.)
    • Jonadab, who gives Amnon advice on committing incestuous rape, and only turns up later to let David know that Absalom didn't kill all of his brothers.
  • The Kingslayer: An Amalekite pretends to have killed Saul, but when he boasts about this to David, David is devastated over Saul and Jonathan’s death. The Amalekite is then Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves. Ish-bosheth’s killers meet the same fate.
  • Klingon Promotion: Joab lost his job as the commander of King David's armies when he was replaced by Amasa after the incident of Absalom's sedition. Joab gets his job back by slaying Amasa while he was leading the armies to follow after Sheba son of Bikri when he decided to lead a rebellion against King David.
  • Lampshade Hanging: "As I served your father, so shall I serve you."
  • Last of His Kind: Michal and Mephibosheth are the only remaining descendants of Saul following first the Civil War and then the execution of Saul’s grandsons as vengeance for Saul’s massacre of the Gibeonites. Michal remains barren because of her falling out with David, but Mephibosheth has at least one son, Mica, allowing Saul’s line through Jonathan to survive.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Penninah has children, and lords it over Hannah, who has none. Hannah eventually does conceive, but not without divine intervention.
  • Leave No Witnesses: In 1st Samuel, when David and his men temporarily sold their services to a Philistine lord, they would make raids upon the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. They would make it a point to leave no survivors in those raids because they didn't want any witnesses testifying in Gath to what David has done to those people, to maintain the illusion of being a true defector.
  • Let's Wait a While: Since soldiers are not allowed to have sex during war time, Uriah refuses to have sex with Bathsheba. David tries to manipulate him into doing so to cover his adultery up, but fails and decides to send him to a certain death.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Nathan the prophet in his parable of the rich man and the poor man in 2nd Samuel chapter 12 says that the poor man's lamb, whom he nurtured, was "like a daughter to him" — which made what the rich man did with the lamb all the more heartbreaking and heinous in David's eyes, saying that such a man that did this "is a son of death." The real stinger is Nathan telling David, "You are that man!"
  • Magic Is Evil: Although King Saul had put away all the people who had familiar spirits out of the land of Israel, he resorted to using a witch to conjure up the spirit of Samuel from the dead to consult him in what he should do regarding the army of the Philistines when God would no longer answer Saul. For that, judgment was pronounced on Saul, as he and his three sons would die in battle together on Mount Gilboa. Long before that, Samuel had told Saul that rebellion against God is as evil and sinful as using witchcraft.
  • Magic Music: David's harp music makes an "evil spirit" that is bothering Saul depart, at first. Later on, though, it's not powerful enough to improve Saul's mood and he tries to kill David with a spear.
  • Maternity Crisis: When Eli's daughter-in-law hears that the Ark of the Covenant has been taken by the Philistines, and that her husband, his brother, and her father-in-law have died the same day, she goes into labor from which she dies delivering her son Ichabod.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Witch of Endor calls up the spirit of Samuel from the grave, and he speaks in a disembodied voice, revealing the disguised Saul's identity and prophesying his defeat. Or did she? Some scholars have observed that the apparition as described would be very easy to fake with the help of a bit of clever ventriloquism note , and it wouldn't exactly take supernatural aid to deduce that the disguised man was in fact the king known for being the tallest of all the Israelites. When read with that in mind, the text is actually rather cagey on the point of whether a spirit genuinely appeared. Interpreters are divided as to what might have really happened.
  • Meaningful Name: Nabal, which means "fool". He lives up to that name as he reacts harshly to David's request for food to be given to him and his men, nearly causing a massacre to fall upon Nabal and his men had not his wife Abigail intervened.
  • Mercy Kill: In 2nd Samuel chapter 1, an Amalekite tells David that he had given King Saul this when he met him still alive after being mortally wounded and begging to be put out of his misery. David ended up killing the Amalekite for this claim, stating that he had said with his mouth he had killed the Lord's anointed.
  • Minor Kidroduction: God called Samuel when he was a child, but little else is said about him until he reaches adulthood.
  • Mistaken for Junkie: When Hannah is praying for a child, Eli (the priest) assumes she's drunk. When she corrects him, he apologizes, and says something along the lines of "May God grant you what you ask for."
  • Morality Pet: Mephiboseth, Jonathan's crippled son, is this to David, to the point where he's exempted when David has to select seven of Saul's descendants to be punished for Saul's massacre of the Gibeonites.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: The result of David's Uriah Gambit was his marriage to Bathsheba, whom he had inadvertently knocked up.
  • Mutual Kill: In 2nd Samuel 2:12-16, David's army (under Joab's command) and Ishbosheth's army (under Abner's command) meet at the pool of Gibeon and have a contest of twelve soldiers each from both armies. As verse 16 states, "Each one grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side; so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called Helkath Hazzurim, which is at Gibeon."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: David had this kind of reaction a few times — once when his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his subsequent arranged murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite was exposed by Nathan the prophet, and another time when he was moved (by the Lord or Satan, according to the Books of the Chronicles) to number the people of Israel for the sake of determining his nation's military power and realized what an idiot he was in doing that.
  • Mystical Plague: When the Ark of the Covenant was in Philistine territory, the Philistines suffered a plague of tumors and mice, which occurred from city to city wherever the Ark was passed onto. Realizing how dangerous it was to continue holding the Ark hostage in their territory, the Philistines decided to have it sent back to the Israelites on a new cart pulled by oxen with an offering of gold tumors and gold mice for their trespass.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Hannah, because she was so upset about not being able to bear children to her husband Elkanah and being teased by her sister wife Penninah because of that, prayed to the Lord for a son. The Lord granted her conception, and thus Hannah gave birth to her first son named Samuel, whom she gave to the Lord as part of her vow.
  • Naked First Impression: David first sees Bathsheba bathing outdoors. Thus begins the affair.
  • Nasty Party: Absalom gets his revenge on his half-brother Amnon by inviting him to a private party and then having his servants slay him in secret. This gets misinterpreted as Absalom slaying all of David's sons until Amnon's friend clears up the whole situation.
  • Necromancy: The Witch of Endor is (apparently) able to bring up the spirit of Samuel from the dead. Samuel is annoyed at being disturbed, and prophesies correctly that Saul will lose in battle the next day, and that Saul and his sons will join Samuel in the place of the dead.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Early in 2nd Samuel, despite knowing how evil King Saul became as king, David refused to speak ill of him in his Song Of The Bow, which eulogized both Saul and his son Jonathan.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Joab (who is at best more of an Anti-Hero ) uses a ruse to convince David to invite Absalom back to Israel, as Absalom was in exile for killing Amnon. Absalom’s return allowed him to sow the seeds of rebellion two years later.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Ahimelech the priest provides David with food and a weapon when he flees from Saul. Saul has him, his family, and his entire hometown executed for this; only his son Abiathar escaped.
  • Nonindicative Name: Samuel figures prominently in the first book, but he dies in chapter 25 and (obviously) doesn't appear at all in 2 Samuel, which is all about David's reign.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: David was forced to flee (from Saul) into exile at the court of the King of Gath (Goliath's hometown), who happened to be an enemy of Israel. When the King of Gath recognizes him as an anti-Philistine guerrilla warrior, David pretended to be a raving madman, causing the king to think him harmless.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Nathan tells David a story about a rich man who stole a poor man's pet lamb. But when David expresses outrage, Nathan reveals that the rich man was an allegory for David's Uriah Gambit and lays down his "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Offered the Crown: Saul, then David.
  • Offing the Offspring: King Saul comes very close to having his own son Jonathan executed for unknowingly breaking his oath for every soldier to fast and only relents because Jonathan is popular among the soldiers. Later on, he threatens to kill Jonathan by throwing his spear at him if he refuses to reveal David's location when he was hiding from Saul.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • Goliath was beheaded by David after he was slain with the rock thrown from David's sling.
    • King Saul gets beheaded after he fell upon his own sword and died in the battle with the Philistines.
    • Ishbosheth was beheaded by Rechab and Baanah and his head was presented to David, with the two hoping that they would be rewarded. They did — with death!
    • A rebel named Sheba son of Bikri, who incited sedition against King David, was beheaded by the people of Abel when he went to that city to hide from David's forces.
  • Only I Can Kill Him: In the case of King Saul, David said to the effect that only the I Am — God — can kill him, since Saul was the Lord's anointed, and ended up killing an Amalekite for making the claim that he had slain King Saul even for a Mercy Kill.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Rephaim, including Goliath. David and friends make a name for themselves by killing a few of these in battle.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: David infamously peeps on Bathsheba when she is bathing on a rooftop. This leads to his adultery and the resulting Uriah Gambit.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: David loses three of his children to death — his unnamed infant son whom Bathsheba bore for him when David got her pregnant, his first son Amnon to his other son Absalom, and then later Absalom to David's general Joab when Absalom had led most of the nation of Israel to war against his own father. Absalom's death was so heartbreaking to David that his mourning made his own troops retreat from the battle in shame.
    • And that's the bare minimum. There's a theory that David and Abigail's son Chileab also died young, given that he's second-eldest after Amnon and yet is never mentioned when it comes to the struggle over succession - David's assumed heir skips first to Absalom and then to Adonijah.
  • Perilous Old Fool: King David becomes this as he gets older, thinking he can still fight battles as an older man. When he almost gets killed and one of his men come to the rescue, he is told to stay home in Jerusalem so that "the lamp of Israel" doesn't get snuffed out.
  • Playing Sick: Amnon in 2nd Samuel plays sick at the suggestion of his friend so that he could lure his half-sister Tamar into being alone with him, requesting for her to come and make cakes that he could eat out of her hand. This ultimately led to him raping Tamar and him also being killed by his half-brother Absalom.
  • Please Shoot the Messenger: King David gets Uriah out of the way by sending him back to camp with dispatches for the general, Joab. Joab's orders: "Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die."
  • Polyamory:
    • The story begins with Elkanah, who had two wives, Penninah and Hannah.
    • Also, David has Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba, plus several other women.
  • Precision F-Strike: King Saul gets one in the original Hebrew and also in a few translations (e.g. The Living Bible) upon figuring out that Jonathan, whom he had favored to be his successor, was on David's side.
  • Prefers Raw Meat: In 1st Samuel chapter 2, the priests serving the Temple would have their servant demand those who were offering sacrifices to God to give the priests raw meat, although the real reason is that the priests prefer to eat roasted meat instead of boiled meat.
  • A Protagonist Shall Lead Them: The central narrative of the Books of Samuel is David’s ascent from being an overlooked shepherd boy in his father Jesse’s home to Israel’s greatest king.
  • Punished for Sympathy:
    • Eli is chastised by a prophet of God for not taking strong measures against his sons Hophni and Phinehas for abusing their positions as priests before God — the most that Eli did was warn them, and that was it — and for that, not only did Eli lose both his sons in one day, but also his family line was cursed.
    • King Saul is chastised by Samuel because he had spared only one Amalekite, King Agag (whom Saul viewed as a strategically valuable hostage), as well as the sheep and cattle. God had commanded Saul to kill them all. For this, God officially rejected Saul as king of Israel, to be replaced with David.
    • Joab calls out David for publicly mourning the death of his son Absalom, telling him that had his servants died instead of Absalom, he would be okay with it.
  • The Purge: Saul's mission was to completely wipe out the Amalekites. Unfortunately he failed, keeping Agag alive as a prisoner and a trophy that was later hacked to death by Samuel. It is assumed that there was at least one other survivor, as King Ahasuerus' adviser Haman from the Book of Esther was said to be the descendant of Agag (and quite possibly the last Amalekite still living at the time).
  • Put on a Bus: After Michal criticizes David’s dancing, the text says she had no children. (Although, probably because of a copyist error or something, it says later on that she bore five children to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.) That is the Biblical version of this trope.
  • Questionable Consent:
    • While David clearly wanted to sleep with Bathsheba, her interest in him is less clear. When the king asks you to come over (and your husband is away at war), how do you say no? When Nathan castigates David for his actions, he has nothing as bad to say about Bathsheba, instead comparing her to a lamb.
    • The same goes for Absalom and David’s concubines. He publicly has sex with them as a way of demonstrate he has replaced David as king. Left unsaid is whether these women wanted to have sex with him.
  • Quit Your Whining:
    • When Samuel mourned for Saul being rejected by the Lord as king over Israel for his pattern of disobedience to the Lord, God had to say something to this effect to get Samuel out of his funk and anoint someone else who will take Saul's place as king.
    • When David mourned publicly for his son Absalom being dead, Joab had to speak something to this effect to get David to stop mourning for his enemy and thereby disgracing the people he was supposed to protect as their leader.
  • Rags to Royalty: David. He is tending sheep when Samuel anoints him king of Israel.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: David's Mighty Men.
  • Rape and Revenge: Absalom gets even with his half-brother Amnon for raping his sister Tamar by luring him to a private party and then having his servants kill him.
  • Rasputinian Death: An alternate interpretation of the two death accounts of King Saul in these books is that Saul fell on his sword to kill himself, but was still somehow alive when the Amalekite found him among the slain, who begged the Amalekite to finish the job, which he obliged, taking the king's possessions so he could give them to David and inform him of what happened. The Amalekite was still rewarded with death for having slain the Lord's anointed.
  • Redemption Equals Affliction: David repents of pulling the Uriah Gambit as well as committing adultery. Although God forgave him, He allowed David and Bathsheba's child to die in infancy and David's life got quite complicated afterwards.
  • Rejected Apology: Saul repents to God for leaving Amalekite genocide incomplete, but Samuel informs him that God won't accept it and has now rejected him as King of Israel.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Saul, so much so that he hid himself once Samuel drew lots to prove he was God’s choice.
    • Jonathan is also willing to step aside in favor of David.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
    • Though Saul's death means David's ascension to the throne, he has a liar who claims to have done a Mercy Kill on Saul put to death for daring to raise his hand against God's anointed King.
    • Later, when two men who murdered his rival for the throne Ish-Bosheth come to him looking for a reward, he reminds them of what he did to Saul's (supposed) murderer and has them put to death and hung up as a warning to others while burying his rival with full honors.
  • Rhetorical Request Blunder: As recorded in 2nd Samuel chapter 23 (and also in 1st Chronicles chapter 11), David was in the stronghold in the cave of Adullam while the Philistine garrison was in Bethlehem, and remarks apparently to himself that he misses drinking water from his hometown well. In this case the desire is genuine but he doesn't expect it to actually happen. But one of his best warriors overheard, gathered a few other mighty men together, and broke through enemy lines to bring back Bethlehem well water, and the King was appalled that anyone would actually risk his life for that.
  • Robbing the Dead: The Amalekite who came to David with Saul's royal crown and armband claiming to have killed him was almost certainly not being straight with David in other parts of his story as well as the part about killing Saul (who'd already committed suicide). For one thing, people don't just "happen" to be hanging around places where battles are taking place (like Mount Gilboa) as he claims to have been. For another, he must have gotten to Saul awfully quickly to have gotten his royal trappings before the Philistines found him. The likeliest explanation? He was a thief there to scavenge from the dead and just figured he'd found the biggest score of his career when he stumbled across Saul's remains.
  • Royal Brat: The sons of Eli, Samuel, and most of David’s all fall into this category. The people of Israel actually hoped to avoid this trope by asking for a king. They saw the poor quality of Eli and Samuel’s sons are, and hoped having a king would fix the problem. And in fact, Israel’s first crown prince, Jonathan, completely averted this trope. If anything, Jonathan and Saul inverted this trope, with Jonathan being The Wise Prince and Saul being a more immature king. With David’s sons, though, it is played completely straight.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Saul, Jonathan, and David. David’s troubles begin when he subverts this trope and stays at home while his army was at war. It is then that David spies Bathsheba showering.
  • Rule of Seven: For a famine in 2 Samuel 21 to end, seven of King Saul's descendants have to pay for his massacre of the Gibeonites.
  • Rule of Three:
    • God calls for Samuel three times before Samuel finally responds.
    • Also, Saul sends his men to go after David when he was with Samuel in Naioth three times, and they end up prophesying by God's power three times.
    • Finally, near the end of 2nd Samuel, when David made the foolish mistake of having Joab number all the men of Israel and Judah, God had Gad the seer present David with three choices of how he wanted to be punished — three years of famine, three months of the sword pursuing him, or three days of the plague of the Lord striking His people.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Nabal, who, after David is prevented from slaughtering him and his servants by Abigail, ends up dying soon after, likely from a combination of a Villainous BSoD and his alcoholism.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Saul's attempts at killing David and saving his dynasty end up dooming it.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: In 2nd Samuel chapter 18, when David was in hiding and had mustered up an army of his faithful followers to fight against Absalom's army of followers, David said that he would go out and fight with his army. His army, however, refuses to let him do so, telling David to the effect that his life means much more to the people of Israel than the lives of his followers, and that losing him would mean a much greater loss than that of his followers, and so David acquiesces and stays behind in protective custody.
  • Shameful Strip: In 2nd Samuel chapter 10, King Hanun of Ammon decided to embarrass King David's team of delegates by sending them back to their master with their garments cut off showing their buttocks, as well as half their beards forcibly shaven.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Though passed off by David as an Honorable Marriage Proposal; he married Bathsheba (after killing her husband off) because he got her pregnant.
  • Silent Treatment: Amnon gets this from his half-brother Absalom after the rape of Tamar to express his total displeasure and to signal that things are going to go bad for Amnon.
  • Sinister Minister: Eli's sons Hophni and Phinehas, who not only took from the sacrifices the portions that were meant for God, but also slept with the women that assembled at the door of the Tent of Meeting. This was considered wicked in Eli's eyes, but God also held Eli responsible for not taking strong measures against his sons for their abuse of power.
  • Sins of Our Fathers:
    • David commits adultery with Bathsheba and then pulls off his infamous Uriah Gambit. As a punishment, the son of that adultery dies, but later they have another son: Solomon. David is also cursed with war and public shame, which results in the deaths of two of his other sons. (And though they probably deserved it, David is still crushed.)
    • David delivered seven of Saul's descendants to be executed because Saul committed the massacre of the Gibeonites.
    • Inverted with Eli and his sons. Eli himself seems to have been a faithful priest and judge, and he tried to warn his sons about God’s wrath. But they ignored him, and God extends his wrath to Eli’s entire line, because Eli did not fully discipline his sons.
  • Slain in Their Sleep: Ishbosheth was slain by two men while he was resting in his house, with his head cut off and brought to David, hoping to expect an reward, which turned out to be death for both of them.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Michal creates one by using an image stuffed under the covers of David's bed to help her husband escape being killed by her father King Saul.
  • Sleeping with the Boss's Wife: Abner son of Ner is accused by King Saul's son Ishbosheth of sleeping with his father's concubine, which makes Abner so upset over the accusation that he decides that he would no longer support Ishbosheth and instead hand over the rest of the nation of Israel to David to reign as king over.
  • Son of a Whore: Jonathan gets called this by his own father Saul when he suspects that Jonathan is protecting David.
  • Spooky Séance: King Saul, after God ignores his inquiries as to how to defeat the Philistines, turns in desperation to a medium (or "witch") in Endor and asks her to raise Samuel's spirit. (The irony was that Saul had previously cracked down on all necromancy within the Kingdom of Israel.) The medium, though recognizing Saul despite his disguise and suspecting entrapment, complies, and Samuel's spirit appears as an elderly man in a robe, none too pleased to be woken from his eternal rest. He curtly tells Saul that the next day he and his sons will die in battle, and sure enough, guess what happens.
    • It's intensely argued whether or not it was actually the ghost of Samuel or if it was some other spirit posing as Samuel, but most Biblical scholars agree that the witch of Endor called up something, and the news was not good.
  • Standard Hero Reward:
    • David is allowed to marry Michal after bringing back 200 Philistine foreskins.
    • Before that, King Saul offered (presumably) his eldest daughter Merab in marriage to the one who would defeat Goliath the giant in man-to-man combat, in addition to giving his family exemption from taxes and great wealth. David succeeded in the challenge, but refused to marry Merab, and she was given over to someone else.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: In 1st Samuel chapter 15, when King Saul doesn't fully obey the Lord's command to fully wipe out the Amalekites and all they have, instead sparing King Agag and the best animals they have for sacrifice, Samuel tells Saul that the Lord would rather have obedience instead of sacrifice. This doesn't stop Saul from worshiping the Lord when he realizes that the kingdom of Israel would be torn away from his grasp and instead be given to another by the decree of God, but things really go downhill for Saul from there.
  • Sucksessor:
    • Eli's sons sucking leads the way for Samuel to become the priestnote ; then, Samuel's just-as-terrible sons lead the way to Saul being crowned.
    • Saul sees Jonathan as this, since Jonathan cares more about his friendship with David than the throne; but being the suck-sessor to a terrible king is hardly a bad thing.
  • Symbolically Broken Object: Tamar's special robe, which was a symbol of her virginity, was torn by her after she had been violated by her half-brother Amnon.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Courtesy of King Saul, and the first recorded example in human history.
    "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! I know that you side with the son of Jesse—to your shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness!"
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: David was perfectly comfortable killing many people, but not Saul, since Saul was the Lord’s anointed. David passed up several opportunities to kill Saul, and later executed the man who claimed to have given Saul a Mercy Kill.
  • Top Wife: Elkanah's wife Hannah, whom he loved more than his more fertile wife Penninah. Also presumably David's wife Bathsheba, since he had given her son Solomon the honor of becoming the next king after him.
  • Tragic Bromance: David and Jonathan were fast friends and routinely declared that they loved each other. But Jonathan was the son of Saul, who not only hated David but tended to go on ill-planned military crusades, which eventually got both Saul and Jonathan killed. David mourns for his loss of Jonathan in the Song of the Bow, saying, "Your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women."
  • Tragic Villain: Saul. He was a Reluctant Ruler who truly desired to be a great king, but he did not have the courage or faithfulness to be successful. He ultimately let his jealousy for David drive his country into a Civil War, committed a terrible atrocity against the priests of Nob, and died with most of his sons on the battlefield.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • Elkanah loved Hannah more than his other wife Penninah, despite being able to bear children for him. In return, Penninah routinely mocked Hannah, who had no children, until she got upset and wouldn't eat.
    • David initially, as his father Jesse didn't even invite him to the sacrifice along with his other brothers until Samuel went through all the sons present and, the Lord finding none among them to anoint, asks if Jesse still has another son.
    • Michal becomes this among David’s wives once she criticizes his un-kingly dancing.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Nabal, the sheep owner of Carmel, whom David and his men had protected the entire time they were there in 1st Samuel chapter 25. David sent to Nabal to ask for food for the army, but Nabal refused. David was about to massacre the entire household over this insult when Nabal's wife Abigail heard about it and ran over with as much food as she and her servants could carry. David listened to her pleas to accept the food and not resort to vengeance, and God took care of it personally by causing Nabal to have a heart attack.
    • King Nahash of Ammon's son Hanun, who in 2nd Samuel chapter 10 was visited by David's men to give him comfort concerning his father's death and mistook them for spies that were sent to help David conquer and destroy the land, who foolishly brought David's wrath upon himself by having the men sent back with half their beards shaved and their garments cut off at the buttocks. This resulted in a war between Israel and Ammon where, even with the help of Syria, Ammon was defeated twice by David's armies.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In-universe with two examples:
    • 2 Samuel opens with an Amalekite bringing the account of Saul's death to David; the man claims he performed a Mercy Kill on Saul. However, the end of 1 Samuel reveals that the Amalekite is lying; Saul was actually Driven to Suicide. Presumably the Amalekite hoped to get credit for Saul's death; this went horribly right for him when David decided killing "the Lord's anointed" warranted the death penalty.
    • Later on, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth comes to David's aid when he and his men were fleeing from Absalom during his seditious takeover of the kingdom. David asks Ziba where Mephibosheth is, and Ziba answers that he's still in Jerusalem because he sided with Absalom, thinking that his grandfather Saul's kingdom would be turned over to him. After Absalom dies and David is brought back to Jerusalem, he encounters Mephibosheth and asks why he didn't come with the king, and Mephibosheth answers that Ziba had deceived him while he was preparing to go with David. So in this case, Ziba was the Unreliable Narrator who lied to the king about Mephibosheth.
  • Unusual Dysphemism: In 1st Samuel chapter 25, King David uses the term "one who urinates against a wall" in reference to males that are considered worthy of slaughter, equating those men to dogs, when he is refused any help by Nabal in gratitude for protecting his flocks and servants.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Many English translations have Saul swear at Jonathan along the lines of, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman!" There is indeed a closer English equivalent to the Hebrew original, but apparently most translators prefer to use an equally accurate but not so precise translation ("perverse and rebellious" is a very literal translation of the exact words) for The Bible. (The Living Bible is a notable exception.)
  • Uriah Gambit: Trope Maker and Trope Namer, but not in the same event. The Trope Maker is Saul sending David on missions to get him killed (unsuccessful), whereas the Trope Namer is David's attempt to get a woman and conceal his guilt by sending her husband who is one of his own loyal soldiers to death in the hands of the enemy.
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them:
    • After knocking down Goliath, David finishes off the Philistine giant by using Goliath's own sword to decapitate him.
    • Benaiah son of Jehoiada killed an Egyptian warrior with the Egyptian's own spear, after wresting it out of his hands.
  • Villain Has a Point: After Absalom's rebellion fails because, despite David's explicit orders he be spared, Joab kills the rebel, David becomes extremely sad and the story clearly expects us to feel sympathy for the man who just lost one of his sons. Joab goes to his uncle and tells him to man up and behave like a king should and stop crying like a child, and criticizes him to his face how he constantly shows goodwill to people who try to harm him while showing no gratitude to those who faithfully serve him. Not even the narrative denies that Joab, morally ambiguous as he is, has something of a point by now, especially since David does just what his nephew tells him afterwards.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Absalom becomes this when he returns home from his exile after having his half-brother Amnon killed. Setting himself as a judge of the people of Israel, Absalom purposely made his father David look bad by saying that he himself could provide better justice for the people than David can, and thus stole the hearts of all Israel, setting up for the moment when he would declare himself king and force David and his faithful men to flee to the mountains.
  • Virginity Flag: After King David's daughter Tamar is raped by her half-brother Amnon, the poor girl tears her garment that was reserved for the King's virgin daughters. Her full brother Absolom immediately realizes what happened when he sees her, and it does NOT end well for Amnon.
  • Warrior Poet: David, giant slayer and great musician/poet/dancer.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Samuel chews out Saul for burning an offering without waiting for him to arrive to Gilgal and later for sparing King Agag and the cattle and sheep when God commanded him to kill all Amalekites.
    • Michal tries to do this with David and his supposed stripping dance before the Lord, but that just results in her never having any children.
    • Nathan reams out David for his adultery, and his murder of Uriah.
    • Joab gives one to David as well, for mourning over Absalom's death so much that he neglected to thank his men for their loyalty.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: David has no problem killing Saul's soldiers in battle, but refuses to kill Saul himself, even when he gets the chance, since Saul is still considered God's anointed, and David could not kill God's anointed and be guiltless.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: Invoked by Absalom, who stood at the city gates of Jerusalem and met with all who came to Jerusalem who wanted to meet the king. He used this to gain favor with the people in preparation for his rebellion.
  • Who Will Bell the Cat?: In 1st Samuel chapter 17, the Israelites are faced with the situation of who's going to take on Goliath's challenge of facing him man-to-man in combat, with King Saul promising a reward to the man who would succeed in defeating the giant. Enter a 17-year-old shepherd boy named David, armed with only a sling, a few stones, and faith in God that he can take down the giant just as he took down a bear and a lion. David's overwhelming victory against Goliath astounded even King Saul, who was wondering whose son he was of the families of Israel.
  • The Wise Prince: Prince Jonathan proves to be a wiser and more caring ruler than his father King Saul, and the earlier stories involving him tend to be optimistic...until his Tragic Bromance with to-be-king David kicks in...
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: When David and the Israelites are successful in bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, they break out into song, and David supposedly strips all the way down until he is wearing a linen ephod in worship to the Lord. Michal, one of David's wives, sees through a window David doing this, and ended up depising him in her heart, giving him a chewing out that accused him of debasing himself like a lewd person in front of the maidens. This doesn't go well for her, though, as Michal was cursed with never bearing children from that day forward.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Of all Jesse's eight sons, the last of them, David, is the one chosen by God to be the one that would succeed Saul as king of Israel. This doesn't make his eldest brother Eliab all that happy, as in 1st Samuel chapter 17 he outrightly accuses David of coming down to the battlefield at the Valley of Elah just to see the spectacle of who will go up against Goliath.

Alternative Title(s): Samuel, First Samuel, Second Samuel