Question: Was King Saul a believer?

Was King Saul a believer?

There are many who question whether King Saul was a believer.  They have to, not because of Scripture, but because their theology demands it.  Their theology says that if a person continues in sin, then he really was not a believer.  Saul would be a good example, because after David’s killing of Goliath and the ensuing jealousy, King Saul purposefully and intentionally spent years chasing after that rascal David to kill him.  How could Saul possibly be a believer and want that?  After all, Saul died a miserable death at the attack of the Philistines.  Certainly, he had to be an unbeliever!  That is not true, because that is not what Scripture teaches.

In 1 Samuel 10, there are nine clear indications that Saul was a believer.  This is the passage in question,

·         Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance1?
·         2 “When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you,`The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”‘
·         3 “Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine.
·         4 “And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands.
·         5 “After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying.
·         6 “Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.
·         7 “And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.
·         8 “You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.”
·         9 So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.
·         10 When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
·         11 And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
·         12 Then a man from there answered and said, “But who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”(1 Sam. 10:1-12)

In the beginning of the chapter ten, Samuel, a judge in Israel, had been commanded by God to anoint Saul as commander over His people. The Lord had told Samuel, “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to me.” (1 Sam. 9:16) This does not say that Saul was a believer, but he was chosen by God as the first king of Israel. As Samuel stood with Saul, he took the flask and anointed Saul as commander over Israel (1 Sam. 10:1).  Let us note nine reasons why Saul was clearly a believer.

First, Samuel tells precisely what Saul will do as he is joined with a group of prophets from Israel (1 Sam. 10:3-5). These prophets were not just coincidently connecting with Saul.  They were on a mission from God prophesying from the Lord.  That would be absurd if Saul was an unbeliever, because an unbeliever cannot understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14).  There would be no reason for any connection from any further messages from God.  If he were an unbeliever, he would be anointed and then he would do his own works and ignore any messages from God.

Secondly, God’s Spirit came upon Saul, “Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you and you will prophesy with them…” (1 Sam. 10:6a). The Spirit of God does not come upon unbelievers to do God’s work. However, God’s Spirit will convict the unbelieving world (John 16:8-11) and judge the world, but not come upon the unbeliever for prophesying.

Thirdly, Saul was turned into another man, “…and be turned into another man.”(1 Sam. 10:6b) This is the transformation process of regeneration.  Paul uses the term, “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). 

Fourthly, God was with him, “And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.” (1 Sam. 10:7) This is a clear sign that Saul had trusted in God’s provision and God was with him to lead the people.

Fifthly, Samuel offered burnt and peace offerings for and on behalf of Saul, “You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. (1 Sam. 10:8a) There is absolutely no reason to offering sacrifices for or on behalf of an unbeliever.  God is concerned with the heart.  After the heart is right, then sacrifices are made to honor the Lord.

Sixthly, God gave Saul another heart, “So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.” (1 Sam. 10:9)  Changing of the heart is a clear sign that Saul was a believer and the signs that came to pass affirm God’s blessing on Saul at that time.

Seventhly, God’s Spirit came upon Saul a second time, “…then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.” (1 Sam. 10:10) In the Jewish Age, the Spirit did not indwell the believer, but did endue the believer for special purposes (In the Church Age, the Spirit indwells all believers {Rom. 8:9}). The special enduement allowed Saul to prophesy for the Lord.

Eighthly, the people recognized God’s ministry through Saul, “…when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Sam. 10:11)  There was evidence that was witnessed by other prophets of God as being from God.  God may have spoken through a donkey and He can use any mouthpiece He wants, but the prophets recognized a transformation in Saul.

Ninthly, a proverb was named after Saul, “Then a man from there answered and said, “But who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Sam. 10:12)  In other words, the father (or the source) is the same source as the rest of the prophets of God.  Saul is from the Lord.  He is a believer.

Someone may be able to pick apart one or more of these reasons.  When you put them together, there is clear evidence that Saul was a believer in the Lord.

Now why is Saul questioned?  He is questioned about being a believer, because his actions are not “fitting” of that of a believer.  Really? See the article on the believer’s Downward Spiral.1 People who question if Saul was a believer never seem to provide a good answer to the question, “How many sins can I commit, before I need to question whether I’m a believer?”  A believer can act just like an unbeliever as Paul warns in Ephesians 4:17.  That is why the Lord disciplines His children, because they sin and refuse to repent (Heb. 12:5-6). 

 

1Check this link to read about the believer’s Downward Spiral: http://renewingtruth.blogspot.com/2013/06/question-how-sinful-can-believer-get.html

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