Aragorn-Return of the King.jpg

Call it Lord of the Rings Syndrome (LOTRS). Remember how we all thought that The Return of the King was going to end with Aragorn’s coronation and the whole company bowing before the hobbits? It seemed fitting. But then the hobbits went home to the Shire and Peter Jackson had to throw in a couple more endings for good measure. (And even then, Christopher Lee complained publicly that the screen endings hadn’t allowed for his character, Saruman, to enjoy the badass final scenes he gets in the book. There’s just no pleasing some villains.)

Peter Jackson’s dilemma is mirrored in the ending(s) for the Book of Samuel. (Remember that the Christian division of these books into 1 and 2 Samuel is a later interpolation in an attempt to copy Breaking Dawn and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in their lucrative decision to split a series artificially and make more money at the box office. Originally, it was just one book.) There are about four endings to Samuel, maybe five. Hollywood would probably have scripted it to fade to black just after Absalom’s routing at the hands of David’s henchman Joab. With Absalom out of the way, David’s kingdom is again secure. We could have a montage of David’s weepy grief as he mopes around the palace, only to be roused by Joab into doing a courageous public appearance in the final scene. Elbow, elbow, wrist wrist wrist.

But no. The story goes forward with another rebellion, like an aftershock after a major earthquake, showing just how tenuous David’s reign still is. Then the Bible indulges in a series of appendices, which have the feel of “stuff we couldn’t fit into the primary screenplay but thought fans might appreciate for the DVD.”

First is 2 Samuel 21, which is a surprising alternate take on things that happened way back at the end of 1 Samuel. In the main story, we’re told that David did just about everything he could to save Saul’s reign; that he deeply mourned Saul’s death; and that he sought to preserve what was left of the House of Saul. In 2 Samuel 21, we see David authorizing the murder of seven of Saul’s male descendents. What the . . .? File this under the “alternate endings” section of the DVD’s special features. See what can happen when the main writer loses creative control? Collaborators. . . .

Next (22) we have David’s song of gratitude in which he praises God for making him king and, oh yes, forgiving him of that whole adultery/murder snafu that could have brought down his whole administration. This is followed by a chapter (23) whose basic thesis “the sun shines out of David’s butt” as the text rains down glory on David’s mightiest men. Major royalist propaganda. But then, in a sly move, another screenwriter slides in there and inserts a deleted scene about an old battle in which David really ticked off the Lord by conducting an unauthorized census. (Apparently Yahweh has Views on the proper way to do a census.) A 72-hour plague was in order for this infraction, so the Book of Samuel finally ends on the unhappy note that it killed off 70,000 men.

You can see why the main writers of Samuel took the census fiasco out of the shooting script. How could they have afforded death scenes for all those extras?

Sat 7/24
#Twible 2 Sam 18: Shakespearean tragedy. Loyalist Gen. Joab defeats rebels, staking Abs thru the heart. What happened to “deal gently”?

Sun 7/25
#Twible 2 Sam 19: Oh Absalom, Absalom! Joab has to tell Dav to snap out of grief & make public appearance. Elbow, elbow, wrist wrist wrist.

Mon 7/26
#Twible 2 Sam 20: Just when we thought the Empire had crushed the rebellion, some tribes get uppity. (Sequels are never as good, are they?)

Tues 7/27
#Twible 2 Sam 21: Appendix has stuff we wanted to include but couldn’t quite fit, like about Dav killing Saul’s 7 sons. (Huh? Version 2.0.)

Wed 7/28
#Twible 2 Sam 22: Dav feels a song coming on. Yay God, who rescued me from despair & made me king; Yay God, who lets me get away w/anything!

Thurs 7/29
#Twible 2 Sam 23: We’re STILL not finished yet. Appendix further proves that history’s written by the winners. Sun shines out of Dav’s butt.

Fri 7/30
#Twible 2 Sam 24: G’s mad (where’d THAT come from?) & he’s not gonna take it anymore. It’s Yahweh or the highway, baby. Plague. 2 Sam ends.

Tune in to Flunking Sainthood every Friday for Twible installments. Next week, we start 1 Kings and meet King Solomon.

More from Beliefnet and our partners