Posted On March 19, 2013

I think Saul gets a bad rap.

Saul is one of the most complex, interesting, and tragic figures in the Old Testament. He’s a major player in much of 1 Samuel, and yet we rarely think of him as any more than a villain in the David story. He’s up there with Goliath and the Philistines and Absalom: a nemesis that our hero, David, must overcome to attain or keep his throne.

On some level that’s probably okay, since David is a major player in the Bible. In addition to being a type and ancestor of the Messiah, David is the second-most mentioned individual in the Bible, after Jesus Christ Himself. But to take the book of 1 Samuel and make it all about David is to do ourselves and the text a disservice. There’s a lot we can learn from Saul.

A close examination of Saul’s life raises some interesting questions in the light of the remainder of Scripture. By almost any measurable standard, Saul is a better king than most of the kings of the Divided Kingdom period – certainly more righteous than any that the Northern Kingdom of Israel had. If we compare him to many of David’s heirs – men like Manasseh and Amon – he comes away almost squeaky-clean. Even compared to David, Saul’s list of transgressions are arguably less heinous.

And yet, God took the throne away from Saul’s family and gave it to the line of David forever.

Yes, most of that has to do with David’s relationship with God and the Davidic Covenant. But it’s also a potent reminder that God does not grade on a curve: we are each of us responsible before God for our own actions, regardless of the way in which He appears to be dealing with those worse than us.

Saul begins so full of promise, yet fails so catastrophically in the end. Maybe it’s time we started asking why. Maybe it’s time we remember that Saul is his own person with his own story, and that that story deserves the same kind of attention we give to David and Solomon. True, the story of Saul would be incomplete without David – no less so than the story of David without Saul. But the crux of his story, the qualities that lead to his calling and kingship and the mistakes that lead to his falling and troubling, these are clear before David ever comes upon the scene.

Why should we study Saul? Because in a very real way he is all of us. He is every parent who has started with good intentions only to lose their family to their anger. He is every child raised under a roof with a Bible only to rebel and lose their way in adulthood. He is every well-intentioned pastor and leader who loses sight of the forest of ministry for the tree of self. Saul’s story is more than an illustration of the age-old adage, “power corrupts” (in fact I would challenge the veracity of this statement in the light of Scripture).

There’s a deeper truth here, one which we’ll have to plum the depths to find. How can a man be “little in his own eyes” and yet be so full of himself? How can a man be so clearly chosen and called of God, and yet shipwreck upon the shores of self? Does God make mistakes, or do even the failures of His anointed have their perfect place in His plan?

These are questions I will endeavor to answer over the coming weeks, as we take a long, hard look at one of the Old Testament’s most interesting characters. I hope you’ll join me, Bible in hand, as we try to understand Saul’s mistakes so that we, like wise men, might avoid them.

Related Posts

The Jews and the Resurrection

The Jews and the Resurrection

Romans 11:13-15, “13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the...

Riches for the World

Riches for the World

Romans 11:11-12, “11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means...

Road Signs

Road Signs

Daniel 9:13-14, “Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth.  The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for...

Who is Israel?

Who is Israel?

Romans 11:7-10, “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” 9 And David...

The Lives of the Puritans

The Lives of the Puritans

We live in a day where Puritan works are constantly gaining in popularity. The Banner of Truth is to be thanked for sparking this revival of interest. We should also be thankful to Joel Beeke with Puritan Theological Seminary and Reformation Heritage Books for their...

Keeping Grace Gracious

Keeping Grace Gracious

Romans 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Good works are an essential part of the Christian life. We see in Romans 1:5, for example, that Paul was called to preach so that the “obedience of...

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Weekly Roundup 3/18-3/23/2013 - Servants of Grace - [...] Warriors and Poets: Do you Remember Saul? https://servantsofgrace.org/2013/03/19/warriors-and-poets-do-you-remember-saul/ [...]
  2. Warriors and Poets: Auspicious beginnings - Servants of Grace - [...] week, I said that Saul “gets a bad rap.” It might be more appropriate to say that most of us fail…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Reddit
Share
Email
Buffer
Tweet