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YMMV / Books of Samuel

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  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: As many people have remarked down the centuries, the lesson of David Versus Goliath can easiy be read as "Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight".
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Absalom. Was he an arrogant usurper, or was he motivated by vengeance for his sister, Tamar? David did nothing to punish Amnon for raping Tamar, and Absalom’s sense of wounded justice seemed to be his Start of Darkness. That, however, does not excuse the fact that he in turn publicly raped many of David’s concubines—or at minimum, had sex with them under very coercive circumstances.
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    • Joab can be seen as either The Lancer or the Token Evil Teammate. While David was merciful to his former foes, Joab did the dirty work of killing these foes and ensuring David’s (and his own) hold on power. David may have viewed Joab as the Token Evil Teammate, but David never had Joab tried or executed during his own reign. Instead, he ordered Solomon to do it once Solomon became king. David seemed to recognize Joab’s importance and feared what would happen if he was absent. Only when Joab threatened Solomon’s succession was David ready and willing to move against him.
    • Bathsheba has been traditionally described as participating in a mutual romantic affair with David, even possibly intentionally seducing him by bathing naked outside. Alternately, she may be a cautionary tale about the need to dress modestly to avoid the Male Gaze. Conversely, it's becoming more common to point out that even in the best case scenario, the circumstances were Questionable Consent at best, since David ordered her to be brought to him and she didn't exactly have the free choice to refuse the king's orders.
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    • The theory that the two women named Ahinoam, one of them Saul's wife (and the mother of Jonathan and Michal) and one of them David's wife (and the mother of Amnon), were actually the same person, and that the angry Saul was serious when he called Jonathan a "son of a perverse and rebellious woman" because David had eloped with his own mother-in-law offscreen.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: David is commonly remembered as the king who saw Bathsheba bathing on the roof, and who... did some other things too? The dancing is an aversion, since David in the text wasn't even shirtless but Michal's words mislead people into thinking he was naked or undressed.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Saul is described as handsome and he became a villain. It is unknown whether he kept his looks, though. There is also Absalom, who was as handsome as his father David.
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  • Ho Yay: David and Jonathan were like the Naruto and Sasuke for medieval Yaoi Fangirls.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Saul crossed it when he killed the priests of Nob and their family and livestock. His act was so grave that only Doeg the Edomite of his troops supported him in that act.
  • Never Live It Down: "David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite" (1 Kings 15:5).
  • Ron the Death Eater: The later notion that Uriah deserved to die because calling Joab his superior was an act of lèse-majesté/he committed treason by disobeying David's order to go home. Oh, and David didn't really commit adultery because Bathsheba and Uriah were conditionally divorced at the time, so he would've had nothing to be mad about! According to these people, Nathan castigated David over procedural errors.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Basically, Saul lost his divine support after disobeying divine orders by being insufficiently thorough committing a genocide in which every man, woman, child and animal of the nation of Amalek was to be exterminated. In fact God himself say he repents choosing Saul for not killing enough in his ordered Final Solution.
    • Later, tens of thousands of people die in a plague because David took a census. When God gave him the idea in the first place (Chronicles retcons it to Satan).
  • Wheelchair Woobie: Mephiboseth.
  • The Woobie:
    • Michal, Saul's daughter, because David is such an incredible jerk to her. Early in the story, she loves him and marries him, and saves his life from her own father when he wants to have David killed, risking her own in the process. Then, David runs away and never even tries to contact her for years, and marries other women instead. All right. Michal is then married to another man, and is apparently happy with him — but then David (who is now the king) suddenly wants her back again and has her dragged away from her new family, with her husband following her along the way crying for her as she is taken away. Then David publicly humiliates Michal by saying he really prefers slave girls to her, and boasts that he is now king instead of her father and brothers (who were killed in the meantime), and there's nothing she can do about it—"And I will yet be more vile than thus." And he is, because, as one final atrocity against her, he has her sister's five sons murdered and left to rot.note  How Michal must regret that she saved him, that time many years ago...
    • Similarly, Saul's former concubine Rizpah. At the same time David has Merab's sons sent off to die at the hands of the Gibeonites, he also hands over Rizpah's two sons by Saul. Rizpah sits with the bodies for months, keeping the scavengers away, until David finally has them buried. And given the talk elsewhere about David being given Saul's women for his own, she's probably stuck married to him, like Michal.
    • Poor, poor Tamar. Her half-brother Amnon rapes her and David does nothing to punish him. Her brother Absalom is the only one to care about her, and even he tells her to be quiet about the rape.

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