we can develop character through trials and daily situations. if we spend time with God in prayer and His Word, we are more likely to choose a Godly response to whatever may come our way. when life becomes too busy to fit God into your schedule, you may not act in a way that will bring God glory. i want to present a view into the lives of two men, both named Saul, and compare the way that answered circumstances that came their way.
the first Saul presented for our study is Saul, son of Kish, from the tribe of Benjamin. the Bible recounts of Saul, “a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” (1 Samuel 9:2) Israel wanted a king to lead them, just like the surrounding countries. it seems as though the chosen people had always turned to the tangible. they wanted a nobleman with his sword drawn on a white horse to lead them into battle. from all outward appearances, Saul fit the bill. he was tall and handsome and came from a wealthy family.
we continue to read of the coronation of Saul in 1 Samuel 10. God gave Saul a “new heart,” and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he prophesied. the following chapters account for his mighty military victories against the enemies of Israel. in chapter 15, the Lord instructed Saul to destroy the Amalekites. Saul disobeyed the voice of God and spared the king and many of their flocks. Samuel let Saul know that God had rejected him as king, and we see a glimpse into the heart of Saul at this point, as he repents and worships the Lord. Samuel anoints David to be king, and the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16). jealousy filled the remaining days of Saul’s life, and he chased David all over the country in an attempt to murder him. in this effort, he killed 85 priests and held a séance to speak with Samuel. in his final battle, Saul was hit with an arrow and fell on his sword. A tragic ending to a life that had so much potential.
the Saul of the New Testament was a Roman citizen and a Pharisee. Saul’s profession was a tentmaker, but as a Pharisee, he was a student of the law, with excellent knowledge of the scriptures, and believed in the resurrection from the dead. knowing a great deal about the law, he was likely concerned about this new sect that had arisen. this new religion did not adhere as strictly to Jewish customs, they fellowshipped with Gentiles, and the leader of this band, the supposed Messiah, had been killed. Saul traveled and urged for the punishment of these blasphemers. he was present and consented to the martyrdom of Stephen, though unclear if he ever picked up a rock. Saul made quite the fearsome name for himself as he punished and jailed Christians everywhere he went.
on the way to Damascus (Acts 9), all of that changed. he had an experience with God on that road and learned the name of the Lord. Saul obeyed Jesus by going into town for prayer to recover from blindness (in more ways than one) and began his Christian ministry. fellowship with other Christians was challenging because he had a reputation, but respected Christians vouched for him, and we even see his name changed (Acts 13). Paul used his knowledge of the scriptures and his experience with Jesus to put together the big picture and persuade people to follow Christ. he started many churches and preached to governors and kings.
when comparing these to Sauls, it is evident that both of these men had a bright future ahead of them. their experiences shaped their character and, most importantly, their obedience. had King Saul been entirely obedient to the voice of the Lord, he may have become the greatest king in the history of Israel. his family may have kept the throne, and the Messiah could have come through his descendants. Paul, being converted to Christendom, was obedient through scourging and many trials. the result is evident in the impact that Paul had made in the churches of that time and in the literary works of the Bible that we still use today for encouragement and “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)