Who was King Saul in the Old Testament?


By BibleAsk Team

King Saul

King Saul, a prominent figure in the Old Testament, is remembered as the first king of Israel, chosen by the people to lead them. His story unfolds in the books of 1 Samuel and parts of 2 Samuel, offering a complex narrative of leadership, faith, and tragedy.

The Rise to Kingship

1 Samuel 9:1-2

The Bible presents King Saul as the first king of Israel, the son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. Saul, a Benjaminite, emerges as an unexpected choice for kingship. He is chosen by God (1 Samuel 10:1), after the people asked to have a king to lead them into battle like the rest of the nations (1 Samuel 8:5). His story begins with a quest to find his father’s lost donkeys, leading him to the prophet Samuel. The prophet, guided by divine instruction, anoints Saul as king over Israel.

The Anointing and Prophecy

1 Samuel 10:1

As Samuel anoints Saul, he shares a prophecy predicting Saul’s encounter with various signs, including meeting a group of prophets and experiencing a transformation of heart. These events mark the divine confirmation of Saul’s kingship.

Early Victories

1 Samuel 11:1-15

At the beginning of his reign, King Saul is seen as humble man. His leadership is quickly tested when the Ammonites threaten the city of Jabesh Gilead. Filled with the Spirit of God, King Saul responds with strategic military prowess, winning a decisive victory and solidifying his position as king.

The Test of Obedience

1 Samuel 13:8-14

However, King Saul’s reign faces an early challenge when he disobeys a command from Samuel to wait for him before making offerings to God. This act reveals a struggle with obedience that will later characterize Saul’s leadership.

The Amalekite Campaign

1 Samuel 15:1-35

One of the critical moments in King Saul’s reign is the command to utterly destroy the Amalekites. However, the king spares King Agag and some of the best livestock, rationalizing his actions. This disobedience leads to God’s rejection of Saul’s kingship.

David’s Emergence

1 Samuel 16:1-13

As King Saul falls out of favor with God, the young shepherd David is anointed as the future king. Saul, tormented by an evil spirit, witnesses the rise of his successor, unknowingly setting the stage for a tragic conflict.

Saul’s Jealousy and David’s Rise

1 Samuel 18:6-16

As David gains popularity and military success, Saul’s jealousy intensifies. The iconic scene of Saul hurling a spear at David encapsulates the growing tension between the two figures.

The Decline and Desperation

1 Samuel 28:3-25

Saul’s desperation reaches its peak as he consults a medium to summon the spirit of Samuel, an act that is utterly forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:31). This desperate act reflects the depths to which Saul has fallen, and Samuel’s prophetic words confirm the impending doom of Saul and his sons.

The Battle of Mount Gilboa

1 Samuel 31:1-13

The tragic culmination of Saul’s story occurs in the battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. Saul, facing imminent defeat, falls on his own sword, choosing death over capture. His sons perish with him, marking the end of Saul’s troubled reign.


2 Samuel 1:19-27

David’s lamentation for Saul and Jonathan provides a reflective perspective on Saul’s legacy. Despite Saul’s flaws, David honors him and acknowledges the fallen king’s contributions to Israel.


King Saul’s narrative is a tapestry of triumphs, failures, and tragic consequences. His reign stands as a cautionary tale about the challenges of leadership, the importance of obedience to God, and the consequences of jealousy and disobedience. Saul’s story foreshadows the establishment of the Davidic dynasty and the enduring themes of redemption and divine sovereignty found throughout the Old Testament.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

We'd love your feedback, so leave a comment!

If you feel an answer is not 100% Bible based, then leave a comment, and we'll be sure to review it.
Our aim is to share the Word and be true to it.