Saul was the bees knees. In the first two verses of 1st Samuel 9 we learn three important facts:
– Saul’s father was wealthy
– Saul was significantly taller than the average man
– Saul was a good looking dude
To challenge the above, the text in chapter ten establishes that Saul was a timid man who initially hid from his fate as king. What this seems to indicate is that while externally, Saul seemed the man’s man, the ideal figurehead of strength and prosperity, internally, Saul was insecure and fixated on himself rather than focused on the LORD or his people.
Saul’s internal insecurity seems further confirmed by his actions in 1st Samuel 13. After waiting the agreed upon seven days for Samuel to arrive to make the pre-battle sacrifice to invoke the favor of the LORD, we see Saul decide to make the sacrifice himself instead of continuing to wait for Samuel because he feared that his army would desert him. We know from Leviticus that the king making such an offering is outside the law, and 2 Chronicles 26:16-21 paints the picture of another king who tried to make an offering himself and was struck by the LORD with leprosy.
And again, Saul’s self-focus is established in 1st Samuel 15 when Saul spares king Agag and keeps the choice loot of Amalek, doing what he thinks is best instead of devoting everything to destruction as he was instructed to do. Further, Samuel seems aware of Saul’s insecurity as in 1st Samuel 15:17 he states, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel?”
At this point the LORD rejects Saul as king. Instead of repenting, Saul merely acknowledges his sin and continues to act out of insecurity and self-interest as displayed in his repeated attempts on David’s life, in his inquiry of the medium of Endor, and ultimately in his suicide.
Saul is like a foreshadowing of the whitewashed tombs of the Gospels in that he has the appearance of perfection but is inwardly corrupt. His strong exterior was ultimately destroyed by his weak interior.
For more on the LORD’s rejection of Saul: click here.
For a Jewish take on the person of Saul: click here.