top of page

Icons of the Bible: King Saul - A Man Destroyed by His Own Jealousy

photo of king saul
King Saul

Image from Icons of the Bible James C. Lewis

The Icons of The Bible Series will go through all the people of the Bible in chronological order. I will attempt to provide you focused article and videos that will help you become more familiar with those whom God chose to tell us about in His Holy Scripture. - Andy

Saul, First King of Israel

"Saul's Family

In the meantime, G‑d arranged for Samuel to meet the man who was to become the first king of Israel.

In the small but valiant tribe of Benjamin there lived a man named Kish. He had a son Saul, a young man of tall and majestic stature, towering more than a head above the rest of his townsmen. It so happened that some donkeys belonging to Kish had wandered astray and were lost, and that he bade Saul go with one of his servants to recover the animals. The two set out; and passing through Mount Ephraim and the surrounding country, they arrived, after a three days' search, in the land of Zuph. Saul searched far and wide and inquired everywhere about the lost donkeys. At length he was ready to give up his fruitless quest, which had taken him far from his home to the outskirts of the city of Ramah. But the faithful servant suggested to Saul that a seer, a man of G‑d, dwelt in the neighborhood and that perhaps he would be able to tell them which path they ought to take.

Samuel's First Meeting With Saul

On the day before Saul came to Ramah, G‑d had told Samuel to expect the future king on the following day. Samuel, therefore, made preparations for welcoming him and invited a few guests to eat with him that day. As Saul entered the city, he approached a man to ask where the seer lived. Unknowingly, he had chanced upon Samuel himself. The latter immediately recognized Saul, the man for whom he was waiting. Samuel invited Saul to the feast, telling him he need not worry about the donkeys, since they had been found. At the same time, Samuel hinted to Saul what there was in store for him. Saul, a modest person, countered that since he was of the youngest tribe of Israel —Benjamin, he could not expect such an honor. Samuel took Saul home and introduced him to the other guests, and they feasted together.

photo of samuel
The Prophet Samuel

Saul Anointed

On the following morning, Samuel called Saul early and accompanied him and his attendant to the gate of the city. There he bade the servant pass on and wait for his master; and then turning to Saul, he said to him. "Stand thou still awhile, that I may let thee hear the word of G‑d." He took a vial of oil, poured it upon Saul's head, and kissed him saying, "Behold, the L-rd has anointed thee to be chief over His inheritance!" Then he foretold minutely what would happen to Saul on his return; how the donkeys had been found, and how his father Kish was sorrowing for his absence. He, moreover, informed him that on his way home he would meet in the plain of Tabor, three men going to the holy place at Beth-El with their offerings in their hands, and that they would give him two of the loaves they were carrying; that further on his way, near Gibeath-Elohim (the Hill of G‑d), where a garrison of Philistines was stationed, he would encounter a company of prophets, descending from the hill with a psalter, a taboret, a pipe and a harp, all prophesying: then would Saul be endowed with the spirit of G‑d, and he also would prophesy.." from the article: Saul, First King of Israel

How We Can Learn from King Saul’s Mistakes and His Story?

King Saul was the first king of Israel in the Bible. When the Israelites demanded a king, God instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint Saul. However, Saul disobeyed God and proved unfit to be king.

Saul’s story is one of great drama, especially his relationship with one of the most well-known figures in the Bible, David. Though Saul’s story doesn’t end well for him, we can learn from his triumphs and failures.

Who Was King Saul in the Bible?

Saul was not born to royal parents. He was from the tribe of Benjamin, and in his own words, “Am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?” (1 Samuel 9:21).

However, there was no royal family from which a king could have been selected. Until that time, Israel had been ruled on and off by judges, during a tumultuous few hundred years that are recorded in the book of Judges.

Israel was not intended to have a king; God was to be King. However, the Israelites had devolved into debauchery. The book of Judges ends with horrifying stories of violence and immorality and the echoing refrain “in those days Israel had no king” (Judges 18:1, 19:1, 21:25) pointing not only to the lack of a human king but the lack of regard for the Lord as King.

Saul’s father, Kish, was “a man of standing” (1 Samuel 9:1). Saul himself was an impressive man physically, “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else” (1 Samuel 9:2). If someone was to be king, outwardly, Saul looked like a good candidate.

What Did King Saul Do?

Saul’s story begins in 1 Samuel, the book that follows the book of Judges in the Bible. 1 Samuel 8 records the people of Israel demanding that their spiritual leader, the prophet Samuel, give them a king “like all the other nations” (1 Samuel 8:20). Samuel at first resisted, but the Lord told him, “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king…Listen to them and give them a king” (1 Samuel 8:7, 1 Samuel 8:22).

When Saul and Samuel met, Saul was off searching for his father’s donkeys that had gone missing. After a long search, he and his servant were passing through Samuel’s town and decided to ask the seer for advice on finding the animals (1 Samuel 9:8).." from the article: How We Can Learn from King Saul’s Mistakes and His Story?

Why Did God Send an Evil Spirit to Torment King Saul?

First Samuel 16:14 says, “The Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.” This is also mentioned in 1 Samuel 16:15–16, 23; 18:10; and 19:9. Why did God let an evil spirit torment Saul? In what way was the evil spirit “from” the Lord? First, the evil spirit was “from” the Lord in that it was allowed by God to harass Saul. Ultimately, all created things are under God’s control. It is likely that this evil spirit was part of God’s judgment upon Saul for his disobedience. Saul had directly disobeyed God on two occasions (1 Samuel 13:1–14; 15:1–35). Therefore, God removed His Spirit from Saul and allowed an evil spirit to torment him. Likely, Satan and the demons had always wanted to attack Saul; God was now simply giving them permission to do so. Second, the evil spirit was used to bring David into the life of Saul. This account is recorded immediately following David’s anointing as the future king of Israel. The reader would be wondering how a shepherd boy would become king. First Samuel 16 reveals the first step in this journey. When the king’s servants saw the torment Saul was enduring, they suggested, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better” (1 Samuel 16:15–16). One of the king’s servants referred David to the king, describing the youth as a great harp player, among other things (verse 18). Saul called David to come and found him to be a great comfort: “David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, ‘Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.’ Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him” (1 Samuel 16:21–23). It is important to note that this evil spirit that troubled Saul was only temporary. The final verse notes that the evil spirit came on multiple occasions to bother Saul, but also it departed from him. A related question is, does God send evil spirits to torment people today? There are examples of individuals in the New Testament being turned over to Satan or demons for punishment. God allowed Ananias and Sapphira to be filled with the spirit of Satan as a warning and example to the early church (Acts 5:1–11). A man in the Corinthian church was committing incest and adultery, and God commanded the leaders to “hand him over to Satan” to destroy his sinful nature and save his soul (1 Corinthians 5:1–5). God allowed a messenger of Satan to torment the apostle Paul in order to teach him to rely on God’s grace and power and not become conceited because of the tremendous abundance of spiritual truth he was given (2 Corinthians 12:7).

King Saul and the evil spirit