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

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

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

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

Icons of the Bible

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
God Sends an Evil Spirit to King Saul

The New Testament reveals how God can use the presence of evil spirits to reveal His power. Jesus showed His power over demons on multiple occasions; every time Jesus cast out a demon, it was an affirmation of the Lord’s authority. The account of Jesus’ casting out the demons who entered a herd of pigs indicates that perhaps as many as 2,000 evil spirits were present, yet they all feared the power of Christ (Mark 5:1–13). If God does allow evil spirits to torment people today, He does so with the goal of our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). And, just as in Job’s case, Satan and his minions can do only what God allows them to do (Job 1:12; 2:6). They never act independently of God’s sovereign and perfect will and purpose. If believers suspect they are being tormented by demonic forces, the first response is to repent of any known sin. Then we should ask for wisdom to understand what we are to learn from the situation. Then we are to submit to whatever God has allowed in our lives, trusting that it will result in the building up of our faith and the glory of God. Evil spirits are no match for the power of God. As Ephesians 6:10–12 commands, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” from the article: Why did God send an evil spirit to torment King Saul?

Saul and the Evil Spirit Exegetical Psychology

Imagine you are a general commanding an army. Your army has a strong advantage. No one can see your soldiers. They wage war sight unseen. They seek to destroy the enemy and take everyone prisoner. Once captured, they enslave those prisoners to do all kinds of evil. Without knowing it, the world lies under the rule of the devil, and his invisible army attacks everyone all the time. The devil enslaves people to sin, and entices them to sin more. His invisible army of evil spirits influence the lives of all people. Without Jesus, no one escapes the domain of darkness ruled by the devil.

Many people today do not give much thought to the spiritual world. What they cannot see does not cross their minds. Such lack of perception amounts to spiritual blindness. Just because people cannot see the evil spirits, they still live among us and indwell people. Jesus taught that the we struggle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). We must learn about how spirits affect our lives and the way they influence our emotions in particular.

Saul and the Spirits

The story of Saul illustrates how evil spirits influence our lives. Most people remain oblivious to the power the of the evil spirits coming upon them. Evil spirits come into people and influence behavior. Yahweh sends evil spirits to go into evil people. In the case of Saul, King of Israel, the Holy Spirit came upon Saul and remained with him. The Hebrew text indicates that the Spirit of Yahweh came upon Saul. 1 The Holy Spirit was not an abiding presence with Saul, but the Holy Spirit would come upon Saul. 2 Centuries after Saul reigned, the Holy Spirit began a new relationship with saints alive on earth. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven like a rushing wind in cloven tongues of fire and indwelt believers for the first time. Today, the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in the life of every believer at the moment of salvation. Jesus baptizes each believer with the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, Jesus cast demons out of people, showing that some evil spirits reside in some people. 3 You may recall that the Holy Spirit did not indwell people in the Old Testament, but He did come upon people for a particular task. 4 Yet, in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon some people and abided with them. Saul, for example, had the Holy Spirit come upon him for the purpose of prophesying and ruling Israel. 5 The Holy Spirit came upon Saul and remained upon him for a period of time. 6

When Nahash the Ammonite besieged Jabesh-gilead, Saul heard the news. The Spirit of Elohim rushed upon him, and he burned with nose anger exceedingly. 7 Therefore, we see that holy anger rose up in Saul after the Spirit of Elohim rushed upon him. Nose anger burns against people who attack the children of God. The Spirit of Elohim stirs up emotions so that we feel what He feels.

When Saul sinned against Yahweh, He rejected Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 15). Then Yahweh directed Samuel to anoint David as King and the Spirit of Yahweh rushed upon David from that day forward (1 Samuel 16:13). 8 Then the Spirit of Yahweh turned away from Saul, and an evil spirit from Yahweh terrorized him (1 Samuel 16:14). 9 Saul lost the kingdom because he disobeyed Yahweh by not killing Agag the king of the Amalekites and not killing the livestock, causing Yahweh to regret having made Saul king (1 Samuel 15:1-17). Notice that Saul did not obey the voice of Yahweh, but rushed upon the spoil, doing evil in the sight of Yahweh (1 Samuel 15:19). 10 This passage shows that Yahweh commands evil spirits and they obey Him. Yahweh can send evil spirits to terrorize people for their sinful behavior." from the article: Saul and the Evil Spirit Exegetical Psychology

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