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The Two Sauls: Saul The King of Israel And Saul Of Tarsus
There were two Sauls who played significant roles in the Bible. One Saul is spoken of in the Old Testament, and the other is spoken of in the New Testament. The one in the Old Testament, Saul the King, is probably most remembered as the man who sought to kill David, while Saul of Tarsus, is probably most remembered not as Saul but as Paul the apostle.
These men, besides having the same name, were similar in quite a few ways.
The name Saul means "Prayed for". The meaning of the name is significant because the children of Israel did ask God for a king and Saul was His immediate answer to them.
King Saul was not born a king and neither was Saul of Tarsus born an apostle. Both men were from the tribe of Benjamin and both of them were called by God to become something special. In one's case, it was to become the first king of Israel and in the other's case, it was to become an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ's.
Saul The King Of Israel
Saul was the son of Kish. He was from the tribe of Benjamin. The Bible says that Saul was a tall, handsome man but he was also a humble man. When Samuel told him that the Lord had chosen him to lead the people, Saul did not understand why he, of all men, was picked.
Saul was anointed as king of Israel by Samuel, and he was loved by all when it became evident that the Spirit of God was upon him. However, Saul's favor with God did not last very long. The Bible says that Saul's kingship was taken from him because he was disobedient to God and because he knowingly rebelled against God's will.
Just how Saul managed to be disobedient is explained in the first Book of Samuel. Samuel told Saul that he was made king when he was small in his own sight. (See 1 Samuel 15:17) After being made king, Saul began to think more of himself and pride crept in. Therefore it was easier for Saul to see his own judgment as wise and equate it with the judgment of God. In choosing to do what he wished concerning the Amalekites and not what God wished, Saul showed that he valued his decision capabilities over God's.
1 Samuel 15:22
"Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king."
The Spirit of God left him and David was anointed as king in his stead. That was when Saul changed.
The Bible says that King Saul was tormented by an evil spirit and that this spirit was sent by God.
"But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him." 1 Samuel 16:14 (K.J.V.)
After that, it was all downhill for Saul. The kingdom was taken from him and given to David and though he tried his best to retain it, he could not fight against the will of God. Saul died in battle but he died by his own spear.
"Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise on the sword, and died.
So Saul died, and his three sons, and all his house died together." 1 Chronicles 10:4-6 (K.J.V.)
Saul of Tarsus or Paul the Apostle
Saul was a zealot. Of the tribe of Benjamin, he was proud of his heritage and proud of being a Pharisee. Determined to wipe out those who would serve the Lord Jesus Christ, Saul decided to go on a mission to destroy all he could who dared to follow Jesus Christ. The Bible says that he was present at Stephen's stoning and that he held the clothes of those who stoned Stephen.
"And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him." Acts 22:20 (K.J.V.)
He was feared by those who followed Christ, and no doubt that his name was on the lips of those believers whose lives were threatened by him when they prayed. Yet God arrested Saul and called him to His service.
He was on his way to Damascus to trouble and torment those who follwed Jesus when Jesus appeared to him on the way and took away his worldly sight in order to give him Godly vision. The proud man was humbled in that instant and he was forever changed.
Saul became known as Paul and he became an apostle of the very same Jesus Christ he had scorned. He went preaching the Gospel far and wide supporting himself by tentmaking and suffered many things and eventual death for the Gospel. His zeal for bloodshed became zeal for the Lord and he did many great things in the name of the Lord. He healed the sick, cast out demons and raised the dead. For the rest of his life, he boldly did what was set before him constantly seeking to please God and to do His will in everything.
The two Sauls were very similar and yet very different. One could say that their personalities were similar but at different times in their lives. When Saul the son of Kish was first anointed king, his humility was the blessing which caused him to do the will of God. His pride, which came later, was a hinderence causing him to be blind and deaf to the will of the Lord. The Lord despised him for it (as He despises the sin of pride - See Proverbs Chapter 6) and regretted making him the king. Saul of Tarsus' pride caused him to retaliate against God. His pride had blinded him so much that he could not see that he was fighting with God and not with men. When God opened his eyes, pride fell from him and humility took over. He was able to walk in the will of God and be obedient because he no longer had any pride.
Both men had stature - Saul was king of Israel and Saul was a well known Pharisee.
Both men had humility - Saul at the beginning and Paul at the end.
Both men had pride - Paul at the beginning and Saul at the end.
Both men died fighting - One for his kingdom and one for God's kingdom.
These two Sauls to me, show just how one person can start well and end badly or how one person can start badly and end well. It all has to do with rebellion and submission. It all has to do with the question, 'Whom will ye serve this day?'