Saul was a son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin and the family of Matri. An account is given of how Samuel anointed Saul at God`s command. He gave him a sign to prove that he had been selected by God to rule Israel. He presented him to the assembly of the Israelites which was called at Mizpah.
Before presenting Saul to the Israelites, Samuel anointed him with Olive oil acting as a representative of Israel`s God.
Samuel said “ The Lord anoints you as ruler of his people Israel”. Samuel gave him a sign to prove that the spirit of the Lord was with him.
He would meet a group of ecstatic prophets, dancing, shouting and playing musical instruments ecstatically.
Saul himself would be overcome by the spirit of ecstasy and would join them. Suddenly the spirit of the Lord took control of him and he joined in their dancing and shouting.
Samuel also explained publicly the rights and duties of their king as recorded in Deuteronomy chapter 17:14-20.
THE REIGN OF THE FIRST KING
- Saul fought enemies, 1 Samuel chapter 13-14 shows that with the help of Samuel, the prophet, he fought with determination to put off the Philistine’s treat. He succeeded in bringing peace and order in Israel.
- Saul knew how to deal with the people. He tried to unite the 12 tribes. There were no rebellions during his term of office. His Charismatic leadership is credited for the constant visits he made to all tribes trying to instill in them the spirit of brotherhood because they were people of the covenant.
- Saul also built up a good army. He had a well-disciplined armed force. He also recruited people who voluntarily wished to join the army it comprised of men like David who was determined to fight and defeat their enemies.
- He laid a firm foundation in the development of the nation. The monarchy of King David steamed from the political structure laid by King Saul. Hence David found it easy to organize the people and the nation.
- He was a man of sincere passionate faith in Yahweh. In the beginning he loved Yahweh so much that he gave his children holy names for example Johnathan.
- Saul was repentant; when Samuel tried to condemn him after the war with the Arnalekites, he accepted his sin and even tried to seek for forgiveness.
- The battle with the Amalekites was a test to show Saul`s devotion to God, 1 Samuel: 15:1-34. The Amelekites were enemies to the Israelites and they continued to disturb them. Saul was given a divine command to completely destroy everything they had. This may seem barbaric to modern scholars but from the religious point of view, because it was accepted because the war wasn’t secular but a holy war. It was initiated by God to punish the Amalekites. It was believed that God went before his people in the holy war. Hence there were certain traditions/ regulations which the people had to follow. They were to purify themselves by abstaining from sexual intercourse, alcohol. They were to offer themselves willingly to fight the war because Yahweh was in amidst them as a military commander. Prayers and ritual sacrifices were normally offered before the holy war. In this event, Saul`s mistake lay in making his own Judgment to decide how far he should obey the rules. Saul spared the life of King Agag and even kept the best sheep, cattle, calves and lambs to offer them to God. Saul disobeyed God by refusing to destroy everything. Saul was rejected by god.
- Sometimes Saul didn’t consider the religious implications of his actions especially in times of emergencies. 1 Samuel 13:1-23. Saul was impatient when he tried to assume priestly role by offering a sacrifice to God before going for war.
- Saul lost trust and confidence in Yahweh. Even though Samuel delayed to come in the war with the Philistines, Saul did not trust God to save the situation. He forgot that Yahweh used to fight on their behalf. Victory didn’t depend on the sacrifices but on God`s powerful hand.
- Saul was jealousy of David. Saul hated opposition and he tried several times to kill David (1 Samuel 18-19 :1-24)
- Saul also refused his people to eat any food before avenging himself on his enemies. A curse would come on anyone who would eat food. (1 Samuel 14:24-46).
- Saul was not consistent. Saul promised to give David his elder daughter Merab, he changed his mind and gave him Michal. (1 Samuel 18, 17:30)
- Saul put to death all the priests of Moab (1 Samuel 22:1-23). He killed 85 priests, he also ordered the other inhabitants of Moab, the city of priests to be put to death. Men, women, children, babies, cattle, donkeys and sheep were all killed.
- Saul also consulted a medium. (1 Samuel 28: 1-25).
- Saul was also possessed by an evil spirit. (1 Samuel 18:10-11), (19:9-10)
- Saul killed himself (1 Samuel: 31:1).
When the spirit of the lord departed from Saul, he was then possessed by an evil spirit and David was brought into the Palace to play the harp (music) in order to soothe Saul whenever he was attached. David became a great threat to Saul more than the Philistine aggression.
David became very popular among the people. He was a very good friend of Jonathan (Saul`s son). He had the support of the priests of Moab and he was also engaged to Saul`s daughter. Hence Saul looked at every move made by David with great suspicion.
All the attempts made by Saul to humiliate David turned to David`s advantage because the spirit of the Lord was upon him right from the day he was anointed by Samuel. (1 Samuel 16:13).