Introduction Despite being spirituality suspect Saul is given every encouragement by God who will equip him to fulfil the role of monarch for which he had been set apart. A number of signs are given to him by Samuel in v2-6 to authenticate what he had been told and to deal with any self doubt. Generally it is not the spiritually mature but weak who receive such signs. Presentation 09
What Happened To Saul? Those who knew Saul best were surprised that he had ‘got religion’ cf v11-12. The most significant and controversial of the signs given to Saul is found in v10. The Spirit of God came upon Saul at Gibeah when he came across a procession of prophets. The Spirit would bring changes into Saul’s life. The question we need to ask, especially in the light of Saul’s later development is, 'What was the nature of the change he would bring?' Presentation 09
1. Was it a change of nature, in other words was it regeneration? If we answer "yes", how do we explain God's rejection of Saul and Saul's subsequent involvement with the demonic? Do we want to suggest that the regenerate can become unregenerate again? Can we experience the saving work of God and then have that withdrawn? Does God operate a revolving door of salvation? No! Presentation 09 What Happened To Saul?
2. Could the change refer to Saul's equipment for service? - a special anointing of the Holy Spirit as distinct from his indwelling nature. Remember that the symbolism of the anointing oil poured on the heads of both king and high priest indicated the idea that God equipped them to fulfil their office. An office that was to be exercised in dependence upon God. Did Saul receive super added gifts to enable him to fulfil his kingly function? Jonathan Edwards observation of the New England revival, led him to conclude that it is possible to experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit without experiencing his regenerating grace. Presentation 09 What Happened To Saul?
We can find biblical support for that idea in Matt. 7v21 ff. See also Heb. 6v4. and Jn. 18v14 where we read that Caiaphas prophesied concerning the atonement. In Isa. 45v1 Cyrus, a benevolent yet pagan ruler, is described as ‘God's anointed’. The anointing of the Spirit for service does not guarantee a person’s salvation nor does it indicate that their hearts are changed. This helps us to understand why scripture encourages us to test the genuineness of our Christian profession not by enumerating the number of spiritual gifts we possess but by searching out evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. Presentation 09 What Happened To Saul?
The prophets were clearly baffled by Saul's behaviour perhaps because they knew he had little interest in spiritual things. We must always be careful before we denounce or approve of something that mystifies us in someone else's life. Time will tell what is and what is not of God. We must never assume that what appears to be of God, necessarily is and vice versa. Think of Gamaliel’s advice to the Sanhedrin in Acts 5v35. cf. also 1Jn. 4v1. Presentation 09 What Happened To Saul?
Returning home Saul does not blab about his recent experience. There is a time for keeping our own counsel, and to ponder upon the implications of what God is doing with us cf. Lk. 2v19,51. This sometimes necessary because of the overwhelming intimacy of our experience 2 Cor. 12v1-6. I am concerned when people speak about some deep experience of God at every conceivable opportunity. Such is the pride in the human heart that it seeks out religious kudos from the acclaim of others. Presentation 09
Choosing A King Israel is summoned by Samuel to travel to Mizpah where they are again reminded of the consequences of rejecting God as their 10v17ff. They will now have to live with the fruit of their choice. An idea that many people today find unpalatable. But it is more pastorally responsible to point this out than to tell them afterwards that you thought at the time they were making a mistake! Israel are determined to proceed and so a formal document is produced outlining the responsibilities of both king and subjects. Each party was to realise the binding nature of their responsibilities. Presentation 09
Choosing A King Although Saul had been anointed king we are introduced to a public selection process in v19ff. We are not told the precise manner in which the selection process took place. Perhaps by the use of lots, or Urim and Thummim but note Prov. 16v33. Israel were used to decisions being made where God’s hand was seen at work in the process. It is a tremendous comfort in every situation to know that, where votes are counted and decisions made, God orders our way whether we are aware of it or not. Presentation 09
Choosing A King Was it genuine humility or something else that caused Saul to hide after this process and prior to being made king? Some have suggested that it is not so much humility but an indication, even at this point, of the underlying psychological insecurity of the man. Presentation 09
Choosing A King Once Saul is crowned we see the timeless trend of a pendulum swing of both support and opposition towards a chosen leader v26. There are always people, who are against anything that is done or any decision which is made. They are essentially negative, often spiteful, sometimes without realising why. They are certainly often unaware of being dupes of a devil, whose interest is served by dissension and division. Presentation 09
Choosing A King But Saul is God's anointed and God ensures that his man is surrounded by those who will support and encourage him. Despite all that we have said about Saul’s character and lack of spirituality, Saul was still God's servant with a job to do. The very fact that God is determined to advance his work, no mater what material he is working with, should encourage all our hearts. Presentation 09