1 Samuel 10ff – Saul’s Apostasy

Wayne Jackson
The first king of Israel’s fall from grace can serve as a warning for us today.

The first king of Israel was Saul, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin. While he started his reign in noble fashion, eventually rebellion invaded his heart and he fell from Heaven’s grace. Those who have adopted the Calvinistic theory of “once saved, always saved” have great difficulty with the case of Saul. In order to defend their position they must either deny that the king was a child of God, or else they must repudiate the idea that he fell from grace. Actually, neither position is consistent with the biblical data. Consider the following.

It is very clear that Saul was one of Jehovah’s men when he commenced his work. He was chosen by the Lord and was unique among the people (1 Samuel 10:24). He had been endowed with the Spirit of God and had proclaimed the divine message (10:10). In fact, God had anointed the monarch for his role in Israel (10:1). Indeed, the record specifically affirms that God was with him (10:7). But this was to change.

Saul became disobedient in a variety of ways. For one thing, he flagrantly flaunted the Lord’s instructions in the matter of destroying the Amalekites, their king, and their possessions. In this matter, he acknowledged: “I have sinned” (15:24). Apparently his confession was rather superficial, though, for subsequently the text notes that “the Spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him” (16:14). Eventually, as a consequence of God’s departure from his life (28:15), the Lord actually became Saul’s adversary (28:16). Finally, he died in disgrace, having taken his own life (31:4).

In the margin of your Bible, at the beginning of 1 Samuel 10, underline the phrase, “Jehovah has anointed you,” and then list several of the passages cited above which catalog the spiritual change in this Old Testament character. He did fall from grace, and his example can serve as a warning for us (see Romans 15:4; Galatians 5:4).