A Tale of Two Sauls
They share a name, and they both were called of God. Both had opportunity, but they saw very different outcomes.
In the Old Testament, Saul was a handsome young man, standing taller than most. The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel that Samuel approached Saul, explaining that God had selected him to be the first king of Israel. Saul showed humility, reminding Samuel that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest of the Israeli tribes. Nonetheless, Samuel anoints him as king (1 Samuel 10), and he begins his reign over Israel. Samuel admonishes Saul and Israel to fear the Lord and serve him with all their heart; he also tells them that if they instead choose to be wicked, that they would be consumed.
In the beginning of his reign, Saul leads effectively, bringing about many victories for Israel. In his latter years, however, Saul failed and Israel stumbled. He became jealous of David and tried more than once to kill him. He strayed so far that he looked for wisdom from a witch. In the end, he was shot by an archer in battle and fell on his own sword in order to die rather than be captured and tortured.
In the New Testament, the second Saul shows up in Acts 7 and 8. He attends the stoning of Stephen as a Roman who is instrumental in the persecution of Christians. In Acts 9, however, Saul has an encounter with Jesus and receives his calling to Christianity. Given a new name and new life, Saul becomes Paul. He becomes a disciple of Christ, preaches and teaches salvation, and is undeniably one of the most dynamic forces in the New Testament church. Though he suffered great persecution himself, Paul lived his faith without reservation, dying a martyr’s death.
In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, he tells Timothy that he’s fought the good fight and is ready for his departure. This is an important reminder to us. Both were chosen of God but only one remained faithful until the end. God help us all to remain committed to him that we too can hear the words, “welcome home, thou good and faithful servant.”
– TH –