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Saul
        asked for. (1.) A king of Edom (Gen. 36:37, 38); called Shaul in
        1 Chr. 1:48.
        (2.) The son of Kish (probably his only son, and a child of
        prayer, "asked for"), of the tribe of Benjamin, the first king
        of the Jewish nation. The singular providential circumstances
        connected with his election as king are recorded in 1 Sam. 8-10.
        His father's she-asses had strayed, and Saul was sent with a
        servant to seek for them. Leaving his home at Gibeah (10:5, "the
        hill of God," A.V.; lit., as in R.V. marg., "Gibeah of God"),
        Saul and his servant went toward the north-west over Mount
        Ephraim, and then turning NE they came to "the land of
        Shalisha," and thence eastward to the land of Shalim, and at
        length came to the district of Zuph, near Samuel's home at Ramah
        (9:5-10). At this point Saul proposed to return from the three
        days' fruitless search, but his servant suggested that they
        should first consult the "seer." Hearing that he was about to
        offer sacrifice, the two hastened into Ramah, and "behold,
        Samuel came out against them," on his way to the "bamah", i.e.,
        the "height", where sacrifice was to be offered; and in answer
        to Saul's question, "Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's
        house is," Samuel made himself known to him. Samuel had been
        divinely prepared for his coming (9:15-17), and received Saul as
        his guest. He took him with him to the sacrifice, and then after
        the feast "communed with Saul upon the top of the house" of all
        that was in his heart. On the morrow Samuel "took a vial of oil
        and poured it on his head," and anointed Saul as king over
        Israel (9:25-10:8), giving him three signs in confirmation of
        his call to be king. When Saul reached his home in Gibeah the
        last of these signs was fulfilled, and the Sprit of God came
        upon him, and "he was turned into another man." The simple
        countryman was transformed into the king of Israel, a remarkable
        change suddenly took place in his whole demeanour, and the
        people said in their astonishment, as they looked on the
        stalwart son of Kish, "Is Saul also among the prophets?", a
        saying which passed into a "proverb." (Compare 19:24.)
        The intercourse between Saul and Samuel was as yet unknown to
        the people. The "anointing" had been in secret. But now the time
        had come when the transaction must be confirmed by the nation.
        Samuel accordingly summoned the people to a solemn assembly
        "before the Lord" at Mizpeh. Here the lot was drawn (10:17-27),
        and it fell upon Saul, and when he was presented before them,
        the stateliest man in all Israel, the air was rent for the first
        time in Israel by the loud cry, "God save the king!" He now
        returned to his home in Gibeah, attended by a kind of bodyguard,
        "a band of men whose hearts God had touched." On reaching his
        home he dismissed them, and resumed the quiet toils of his
        former life.
        Soon after this, on hearing of the conduct of Nahash the
        Ammonite at Jabeshgilead (q.v.), an army out of all the tribes
        of Israel rallied at his summons to the trysting-place at Bezek,
        and he led them forth a great army to battle, gaining a complete
        victory over the Ammonite invaders at Jabesh (11:1-11). Amid the
        universal joy occasioned by this victory he was now fully
        recognized as the king of Israel. At the invitation of Samuel
        "all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king
        before the Lord in Gilgal." Samuel now officially anointed him
        as king (11:15). Although Samuel never ceased to be a judge in
        Israel, yet now his work in that capacity practically came to an
        end.
        Saul now undertook the great and difficult enterprise of
        freeing the land from its hereditary enemies the Philistines,
        and for this end he gathered together an army of 3,000 men (1
        Sam. 13:1, 2). The Philistines were encamped at Geba. Saul, with
        2,000 men, occupied Michmash and Mount Bethel; while his son
        Jonathan, with 1,000 men, occupied Gibeah, to the south of Geba,
        and seemingly without any direction from his father "smote" the
        Philistines in Geba. Thus roused, the Philistines, who gathered
        an army of 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and "people as
        the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude," encamped in
        Michmash, which Saul had evacuated for Gilgal. Saul now tarried
        for seven days in Gilgal before making any movement, as Samuel
        had appointed (10:8); but becoming impatient on the seventh day,
        as it was drawing to a close, when he had made an end of
        offering the burnt offering, Samuel appeared and warned him of
        the fatal consequences of his act of disobedience, for he had
        not waited long enough (13:13, 14).
        When Saul, after Samuel's departure, went out from Gilgal with
        his 600 men, his followers having decreased to that number
        (13:15), against the Philistines at Michmash (q.v.), he had his
        head-quarters under a pomegrante tree at Migron, over against
        Michmash, the Wady esSuweinit alone intervening. Here at
        Gibeah-Geba Saul and his army rested, uncertain what to do.
        Jonathan became impatient, and with his armour-bearer planned an
        assault against the Philistines, unknown to Saul and the army
        (14:1-15). Jonathan and his armour-bearer went down into the
        wady, and on their hands and knees climbed to the top of the
        narrow rocky ridge called Bozez, where was the outpost of the
        Philistine army. They surprised and then slew twenty of the
        Philistines, and immediately the whole host of the Philistines
        was thrown into disorder and fled in great terror. "It was a
        very great trembling;" a supernatural panic seized the host.
        Saul and his 600 men, a band which speedily increased to 10,000,
        perceiving the confusion, pursued the army of the Philistines,
        and the tide of battle rolled on as far as to Bethaven, halfway
        between Michmash and Bethel. The Philistines were totally
        routed. "So the Lord saved Israel that day." While pursuing the
        Philistines, Saul rashly adjured the people, saying, "Cursed be
        the man that eateth any food until evening." But though faint
        and weary, the Israelites "smote the Philistines that day from
        Michmash to Aijalon" (a distance of from 15 to 20 miles).
        Jonathan had, while passing through the wood in pursuit of the
        Philistines, tasted a little of the honeycomb which was abundant
        there (14:27). This was afterwards discovered by Saul (ver. 42),
        and he threatened to put his son to death. The people, however,
        interposed, saying, "There shall not one hair of his head fall
        to the ground." He whom God had so signally owned, who had
        "wrought this great salvation in Israel," must not die. "Then
        Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines
        went to their own place" (1 Sam. 14:24-46); and thus the
        campaign against the Philistines came to an end. This was Saul's
        second great military success.
        Saul's reign, however, continued to be one of almost constant
        war against his enemies round about (14:47, 48), in all of which
        he proved victorious. The war against the Amalekites is the only
        one which is recorded at length (1 Sam. 15). These oldest and
        hereditary (Ex. 17:8; Num. 14:43-45) enemies of Israel occupied
        the territory to the south and south-west of Israel. Samuel
        summoned Saul to execute the "ban" which God had pronounced
        (Deut. 25:17-19) on this cruel and relentless foe of Israel. The
        cup of their iniquity was now full. This command was "the test
        of his moral qualification for being king." Saul proceeded to
        execute the divine command; and gathering the people together,
        marched from Telaim (1 Sam. 15:4) against the Amalekites, whom
        he smote "from Havilah until thou comest to Shur," utterly
        destroying "all the people with the edge of the sword", i.e.,
        all that fell into his hands. He was, however, guilty of
        rebellion and disobedience in sparing Agag their king, and in
        conniving at his soldiers' sparing the best of the sheep and
        cattle; and Samuel, following Saul to Gilgal, in the Jordan
        valley, said unto him, "Because thou hast rejected the word of
        the Lord, he also hath rejected thee from being king" (15:23).
        The kingdom was rent from Saul and was given to another, even to
        David, whom the Lord chose to be Saul's successor, and whom
        Samuel anointed (16:1-13). From that day "the spirit of the Lord
        departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled
        him." He and Samuel parted only to meet once again at one of the
        schools of the prophets.
        David was now sent for as a "cunning player on an harp" (1
        Sam. 16:16, 18), to play before Saul when the evil spirit
        troubled him, and thus was introduced to the court of Saul. He
        became a great favourite with the king. At length David returned
        to his father's house and to his wonted avocation as a shepherd
        for perhaps some three years. The Philistines once more invaded
        the land, and gathered their army between Shochoh and Azekah, in
        Ephes-dammim, on the southern slope of the valley of Elah. Saul
        and the men of Israel went forth to meet them, and encamped on
        the northern slope of the same valley which lay between the two
        armies. It was here that David slew Goliath of Gath, the
        champion of the Philistines (17:4-54), an exploit which led to
        the flight and utter defeat of the Philistine army. Saul now
        took David permanently into his service (18:2); but he became
        jealous of him (ver. 9), and on many occasions showed his enmity
        toward him (ver. 10, 11), his enmity ripening into a purpose of
        murder which at different times he tried in vain to carry out.
        After some time the Philistines "gathered themselves together"
        in the plain of Esdraelon, and pitched their camp at Shunem, on
        the slope of Little Hermon; and Saul "gathered all Israel
        together," and "pitched in Gilboa" (1 Sam. 28:3-14). Being
        unable to discover the mind of the Lord, Saul, accompanied by
        two of his retinue, betook himself to the "witch of Endor," some
        7 or 8 miles distant. Here he was overwhelmed by the startling
        communication that was mysteriously made to him by Samuel (ver.
        16-19), who appeared to him. "He fell straightway all along on
        the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel"
        (ver. 20). The Philistine host "fought against Israel: and the
        men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and fell down slain
        in Mount Gilboa" (31:1). In his despair at the disaster that had
        befallen his army, Saul "took a sword and fell upon it." And the
        Philistines on the morrow "found Saul and his three sons fallen
        in Mount Gilboa." Having cut off his head, they sent it with his
        weapons to Philistia, and hung up the skull in the temple of
        Dagon at Ashdod. They suspended his headless body, with that of
        Jonathan, from the walls of Bethshan. The men of Jabesh-gilead
        afterwards removed the bodies from this position; and having
        burnt the flesh, they buried the bodies under a tree at Jabesh.
        The remains were, however, afterwards removed to the family
        sepulchre at Zelah (2 Sam. 21:13, 14). (See DAVID T0000982.)
        (3.) "Who is also called Paul" (q.v.), the circumcision name
        of the apostle, given to him, perhaps, in memory of King Saul
        (Acts 7:58; 8:1; 9:1).
Bibliography Information
Easton, Matthew George. M.A., D.D., "Biblical Meaning for 'Saul' Eastons Bible Dictionary".
bible-history.com - Eastons; 1897.

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