A Character Analysis of Saul
How did Saul come to know the Lord?
When Saul was forty years old, his father lost his donkeys. So Kish, Saul's father, sent Saul to find the lost donkeys. This is what the Lord used to establish Saul as king over Israel. Saul went to Samuel and the Lord chose Saul and had Samuel anoint him king. Saul was humble, being little in his own eyes. God changed the heart of Saul that day and he went and prophesied with the prophets when the Spirit of the Lord fell upon him.
How did Saul turn away from the Lord?
Some time later, Saul acted foolishly. Instead of waiting for Samuel to come and make sacrifices to the Lord, Saul offered the burnt offering himself. This was during the battle with the Philistines. The consequence for Saul not keeping the command of the Lord was that his kingdom would not endure. Therefore, Samuel said to Saul, "The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you." (1 Samuel 13:14).
Next, Saul really does evil in the eyes of the Lord. When he fought against the Amalekites, he disobeyed. Rather than completely destroying the Amalekites like the Lord had commanded, Saul saved their king, Agag, and some of the spoil to sacrifice to the Lord. Then, Saul even had the boldness to tell Samuel that he had carried out the command of the Lord. And the Lord regretted having made Saul king. This instance and the previous one were both blatant disregards of God's commands. Saul even confessed that he did this because he feared the people and listened to their voice. To prevent this from happening, Saul needed to "fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Saul was concerned for his own glory and not God's. He displayed this again right after he sinned by asking Samuel to honor him before the elders of the people. He was not a man after God's own heart. Saul had turned aside from the Lord and let sin become his master.
Because of Saul's disobedience, God raised up David and put His Holy Spirit on him instead of on Saul. At first, David found favor in the eyes of Saul. This changed, however, when some women danced and sang, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands" (1 Samuel 18:7). This hurt Saul's pride, and he became angry. "And Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on" (1 Samuel 18:9). This suspicion of Saul's turned into a fear of David because the Lord was with David. Saul tried many times to kill David in many different ways. None of his attempts succeeded because the Lord was with David. The Lord even delivered Saul into David's hand, but David spared his life because Saul was the Lord's anointed. When David spoke these things to him, Saul wept and said, "You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you" (1 Samuel 24:17). Saul knew that he was wicked, but refused to change his ways.
While heaping sin upon sin, Saul then went to inquire of the Lord and, of course, received no reply. Instead of seeing where the sin was in his life (like he had done in his earlier years), he decided to sin once again and consult a medium to bring up Samuel from the dead. Samuel reminds Saul that the Lord had departed from him. Also, Samuel adds, "Moreover the Lord will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the Lord will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!" (1 Samuel 28:19)
What were the consequences of Saul's rebellion?
In the end, the kingdom of Israel was taken away from Saul and his descendants, and Saul and his sons died in battle with the Philistines. "So Saul died for his trespasses which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, and did not inquire of the Lord. Therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse" (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Saul was cut off because of his rebellion to the Lord's commands.
From Saul's example, what do I want to avoid?
I want to avoid knowing the right thing to do and not doing it. Also, if I know what not to do, then I should not do that. This is done by making a daily decision to die to myself and pick up my cross. I must also be on guard so that I do not get on my own program and disregard the Lord, as Saul did. For it is written, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body, and refreshment to your bones" (Proverbs 3:7-8).