Saul: First King of Israel


First impressions can be deceiving, especially when the image created by a person’s appearance is contradicted by his or her qualities and abilities. Saul presented the ideal visual image of a king, but the tendencies of his character often went contrary to God’s commands for a king. Saul was God’s chosen leader, but this did not mean he was capable of being king on his own.

During his reign, Saul had his greatest successes when he obeyed God. His greatest failures resulted from acting on his own. Saul had the raw materials to be a good leader – appearance, courage, and action. Even his weaknesses could have been used by God if Saul had recognized them and left them in God’s hands. His own choices cut off from God and eventually alienated him from his own people.

From Saul we learn that while our strengths and capabilities make us useful, it is our weaknesses that make us usable. Our skills and talents make us tools, but our failures and shortcomings remind us that we need a Craftsman in control of our lives. Whatever we accomplish on our own is only a hint of what God could do through our lives. Does he control your life?

Strengths and Accomplishments

  • First God-appointed King of Israel
  • Known for his personal courage and generosity
  • Stood tall, with a striking appearance

Weaknesses and Mistakes

  • His leadership abilities did not match the expectations created by his appearance
  • Impulsive by nature, he tended to overstep his bounds
  • Jealous of David, he tried to kill him
  • He specifically disobeyed God on several occasions

Lessons From His Life

  • God wants obedience from the start, not mere acts of religious ritual
  • Obedience always involves sacrifice; but sacrifice is not always obedience
  • God wants to make use of our strengths and weaknesses
  • Weaknesses should help us remember our need for God’s guidance and help

Vital Statistics for Saul

  • Where: The land of Benjamin
  • Occupation: King of Israel
  • Relatives: Father: Kish. Sons: Jonathan and Ish-Bosheth. Wife: Ahinoam. Daughters: Merbl and Michal

Key Verses for Saul

But Samuel replied, ‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the din of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king’ “ (1 Samuel 15:22, 23).

The ESV Study Bible, Large Print edition features the content of the award-winning ESV Study Bible with a highly readable, large-print type. Extensive study notes, charts, maps, and articles make this study Bible a valuable resource for serious readers, students, and teachers of God’s Word.

His story is told in 1 Samuel 9-31. He is also mentioned in Acts 13:21

Scripture Study Resources

ESV Study BibleStudy Bibles give you a deeper understanding of God’s Word with tools for life application like commentary, maps, charts, concordance, and study notes. Search our popular translations- NIV, ESV, NKJV, KJV and more!

Believer’s Bible Commentary: Second Edition – A Bible commentary is a written, systematic series of explanations and interpretations of Scripture. Commentaries often analyze or expound on individual books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Some commentary works provide analysis of the whole of Scripture.

The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible – The best concordance for word study! This exclusive new edition of a legendary classic puts generations of biblical research at your fingertips. A valuable tool for pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. 

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – This classic word study resource allows you to study the meaning of biblical words in the original languages without spending years learning Greek or Hebrew. A great resource for students, seasoned pastors, and anyone who enjoys biblical word studies–even if they have little to no formal training in Hebrew or Greek.

Halley’s Bible Handbook – The beloved and classic Bible companion has been thoroughly updated, while retaining its time-honored features and Dr. Halley’s highly personal style, to offer even greater clarity, insight, and usefulness.

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