Saul – First King of Israel
Profile of King Saul, A Man Destroyed by Jealousy
By Jack Zavada
King Saul falling on his own sword (Circa 1754).
Photo: Getty Images
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King Saul had the honor of being Israel’s first king, but his life turned into a tragedy for one reason. Saul did not trust in God.
Saul looked like royalty: tall, handsome, noble. He became king when he was 30 years old and reigned over Israel 42 years. Early in his career he made a fatal mistake. He disobeyed God by failing to completely destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions, as God had commanded. The LORD withdrew his favor from Saul and had Samuel the prophet anoint David as king.
Sometime later, David killed the giant Goliath. As the Jewish women were dancing in a victory parade, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:7, NIV)
Because the people made more of David’s single victory than all of Saul’s, the king went into a rage and became jealous of David. From that moment he plotted to kill him.
Instead of building up Israel, King Saul wasted most of his time chasing David through the hills. David, however, respected God’s anointed king and despite several opportunities, refused to harm Saul.
Finally the Philistines gathered for a huge battle against the Israelites. By that time Samuel had died. King Saul was desperate, so he consulted a medium and told her to raise Samuel’s spirit from the dead. Whatever appeared–a demon disguised as Samuel or Samuel’s true spirit sent by God–it predicted disaster for Saul.
In the battle, King Saul and the army of Israel were overrun. Saul committed suicide. His sons were killed by the enemy.
King Saul’s Accomplishments:
Saul was chosen by God himself to be the first king of Israel. Saul defeated many of the enemies of his country, including the Ammonites, Philistines, Moabites, and Amalekites. He united the scattered tribes, giving them greater strength. He reigned for 42 years.
King Saul’s Strengths:
Saul was courageous in battle. He was a generous king. Early in his reign he was admired and respected by the people.
King Saul’s Weaknesses:
Saul could be impulsive, acting unwisely. His jealousy of David drove him to madness and a thirst for revenge. More than once, King Saul disobeyed God’s instructions, thinking he knew better.
God wants us to depend on him. When we do not and depend instead on our own strength and wisdom, we open ourselves to disaster. God also wants us to go to him for our sense of worth. Saul’s jealousy of David blinded Saul to what God had already given him. Life with God has direction and purpose. Life without God is meaningless.
The land of Benjamin, north and east of the Dead Sea, in Israel.
Referenced in the Bible:
Saul’s story can be found in 1 Samuel 9-31 and in Acts 13:21.
First king of Israel.
Father – Kish
Wife – Ahinoam
Sons – Jonathan, Ish-Bosheth.
Daughters – Merab, Michal.
1 Samuel 10:1
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?” (NIV)
1 Samuel 15:22-23
But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (NIV)
1 Samuel 18:8-9
Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David. (NIV)
1 Samuel 31:4-6
Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day. (NIV)
• Old Testament People of the Bible (Index)
• New Testament People of the Bible (Index)
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