Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Was king Saul saved?

Alright here's another question recently asked me, eat the meat, spit out the bones, but don't spit them at me! :-)

Was King Saul saved? And if so what does I Sam. 16:14 mean when it says “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul,”?

The first thing that we must understand when dealing with this question is that we must be careful of attempting to say definitively whether someone was or wasn’t saved, when scripture is silent on the issue. While I say we must be careful in such a statement, I do not say that we cannot discern such issues based on what the scriptures do tell us.
When attempting to ascertain whether or not someone is converted, there are certain characteristics that the scripture tells us to look for. I will give you those traits and then we will lay them against Saul’s life and see how he measured up.
(1) A saved person trusts completely in God for his salvation, deliverance, and sustenance. (Gal. 2:16)
(2) Said faith will manifest itself in actions both personal and observable. (Jam. 2:14-18)
(3) A saved person loves God. (John 8:42, I Cor. 8:3, I John 5:2)
(4) A saved parson loves others, particularly his brothers and sisters in Christ. (I John 4:7-8, 20-21)

So then, let us now look at how King Saul matches up to the litmus test God has given us.

(1) Did Saul trust fully in God for his salvation, deliverance, and sustenance?
I could not find one place in scripture where it speaks of Saul’s faith and reliance on God, in a positive or negative way.

(2) Did Saul’s actions show faith in a personal and observable way?
While I could not find a place in the scriptures where it says that Saul believed in God, I did see two distinct events where he showed great reliance on self and no reliance on God. The first takes place in I Sam. 13, here the Israelites are planning to do battle (though greatly outmatched both numerically and technologically) with the Philistines. God has clearly commanded that there is to be no sacrifice offered but by the priest, in verse 9 Saul disobeys God’s command, bypasses the correct order of worship, and sacrifices himself. The second incident occurs in chapter 15, where God commands Israel to utterly destroy the Amalekites, yet Saul makes the executive decision to save alive the choicest animals and the king of the Amalekites himself. Now, I understand that great, godly, saved men often sin, sometimes in disbelief; but I found two elements that intrigued me concerning both incidents. The first is that both times when confronted with his sin he tried to pin the blame on someone else, in chapter 13 on the Philistines, the people and Samuel, in chapter 15 he again falsely accuses the people. The second correlation was that of no true repentance, the first time there was no repentance at all (I Sam. 13:15). The second time, while there was a show of sorrow, it was evidently to save face and not true repentance before God. (I Sam. 15:30)

(3) Did Saul love God?
Again the scriptures are silent on this issue, while I could find no place where the scriptures say Saul loved God not, I could neither find a reference that said he did love God. This becomes more troubling when we realize that the scriptures expressly say that the next two kings, David (Psa. 18:1) and Solomon (I Kings 3:3) loved God. Doubts then begin to creep into our mind as to why the scriptures say no such thing of Saul.

(4) Did Saul love others, particularly saved people?
This question has the clearest answer out of the four in my mind. Saul hated anyone that interfered with his plans. He attempted to kill David on multiple occasions, (I Sam. 19:10, I Sam. 24, I Sam. 26) he used his own daughter to further his agenda, (I Sam. 18:21) and even attempted to kill his own son for sticking up for David (I Sam. 20:33).
All of these facts along with the idea that God rejected Saul as a leader of His people, leads me to believe that Saul was in fact unregenerate. Like Pharaoh was set up as king so that God might be vindicated in His promise that Israel would repent that they had ever asked for a king.
As for the second part of the question, “What is meant by ‘the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul?’” All the commentators I could find agreed that this is not speaking of the Holy Spirit, which abides in a Christian for one’s entire life, but of the general graces which God had bestowed upon Saul previously. Clarke writes,

“The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul - He was thrown into such a state of mind by the judgments of God, as to be deprived of any regal qualities which he before possessed. God seems to have taken what gifts he had, and given them to David; and then the evil spirit came upon Saul; for what God fills not, the devil will.
An evil spirit from the Lord - The evil spirit was either immediately sent from the Lord, or permitted to come. Whether this was a diabolic possession, or a mere mental malady, the learned are not agreed; it seems to have partaken of both. That Saul had fallen into a deep melancholy, there is little doubt; that the devil might work more effectually on such a state of mind, there can be but little question. There is an old proverb, Satan delights to fish in troubled waters; and Saul’s situation of mind gave him many advantages.”


  1. Very good and amazing! Sorry my post is really late but I thought I posted a long time ago... apparently I just commented on the question pamphlet at church.
    Whatever the case I think you explained the "spirit departing from Saul" wonderfully! You couldn't have done better!

  2. If you think Anna's post is late, here is mine. I have been waiting for you to write some more, but alas, I suppose I have to comment before you will write! This is good. I have not heard a peep from anyone on a disagreement at the assembly. Good work.. keep it up.

  3. Very good information pastor. Most of the coments I have heard from church leaders was that once saved Always saved. Which means saul was saved regardless of his life action. How sad for anyone to believe that. It is a twisted perversion of scripture to say the least. The book of hebrews and apostle paul refutes this notion

  4. I too believe once a man is saved he can never be plucked from God's hand, or lose his salvation. My disagreement with many modern church leaders would be whether many who claim to be saved but live contrary to that claim ever really were. If they truly have been justified than they will be sanctified.