By: Dr. Hank Lindstrom
Was Saul, the King of Israel, ever saved? Or was he saved and then later lost his salvation as some have said? This whole subject raises the question about how persons were saved in the Old Testament times and whether anyone once saved could be lost. Saul and his salvation is debated in many theological quarters. A question that we believe has a clear answer in the scriptures. Let’s take a look!
First of all, let’s take a look at the New Testament. Peter is preaching in Acts 10:43 and reminds us that all the Old Testament prophets preached that salvation was through Christ. Also that all the Old Testament prophets taught that FAITH ALONE was the requirement for salvation. Acts 10:43 says “To him (Jesus Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Need we go any farther?
Two things are to be noted. First, all the O.T. Prophets preached or taught about Jesus Christ being the Savior. See Galatians 3:8 where Paul tells us that Abraham heard and believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Secondly, All the O.T. Prophets taught that FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE was the means of that salvation. Note that justification by faith was clearly the message of salvation in the O.T. If salvation is received by an act of faith and has nothing to do with human works or deeds, then it is eternal (See Romans 6:23 “the gift of God”) and cannot be lost.
King Saul’s salvation experience is given to us in I Samuel 10:1-12. First, we have Samuel anointing Saul as the first King in the history of Israel. “Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” Then Samuel tells Saul what would happen to Saul that day leading to his salvation. Verses 2-6 read, “When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son? Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine: And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands. After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.”
So, we learn that Saul meets a group of prophets and they preach to him. We can assume that they preached Christ to Him since this is the main theme of all the Old Testament prophets. Acts 10:43 says, “To him (Jesus Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins”. Upon hearing the gospel preached Saul receives the gospel and is born again. Note that Saul in verse 6 was “turned into another man,” and again in verse 9 “God gave him another heart,” which clearly is a reference to the new birth. The phrase “the new man” is clearly a New Testament expression for the new birth. See Ephesians 4:24.
Saul’s Christian life experience after his new birth is given in I Samuel 10:7-12. Samuel is instructing Saul to follow the leading of the Lord (instructions in the Christian life). “And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee. And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do. And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets? And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?” We are told that those who knew Saul before Saul was saved saw the evidence that Saul had been born-again. His old friends were shocked as Saul joined the prophets and began preaching with them. “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Now we turn to the end of Saul’s life. Because He was disobedient in his Christian life, God had to discipline and finally to take his life. We know that a believer cannot lose his salvation (John 6:37,39), but when delinquent, a believer can lose rewards (II John 8; I Corinthians 3:15). He can also incur the discipline of his heavenly Father and be taken home to heaven early as in I Corinthians 5:1-5. This Christian had his flesh (body) destroyed but his spirit was saved.
In I Samuel 28, we have Saul inquiring of the witch of Endor to bring the prophet Samuel back from the dead to answer Saul’s questions concerning his future. Mediums are unable to bring back the dead, but in this instance God overruled and allowed Samuel to come back. Christians are forbidden to go to mediums. Stay away (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Leviticus 20:6). Satan’s angels can and do impersonate the dead and therefore we become his prey.
1 Samuel 28:7 “Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.” When the witch in verse 12 calls up Samuel she screams because this had never happened before. For the first time, Samuel (someone who had died) comes up at her command.
Saul wants to know what is going to happen with his war with the Philistines and Samuel gives the answer in verse 19. “Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.” Please NOTE that Saul is told that he is to lose the battle with the Philistines and that he and his sons will be killed. Also he is told that he would be with Samuel.
This is very important to note because Samuel the prophet was obviously saved and therefore Saul was saved because he went to be with Samuel (I Samuel 28:19).
There are those who teach that because Saul was a backslider at the end of his life, he therefore lost his salvation. The fact that Saul did not lose his salvation is evidenced by the fact that he went to be with Samuel, the prophet of God (I Samuel 28:19).
Another interesting observation is that in Chapter 15 of I Samuel we see the final meeting of Saul and Samuel prior to the death of Samuel the prophet. Samuel saw Saul no more after pronouncing a judgment upon Saul because of his disobedience to the Lord, and then Samuel’s death is recorded in Chapter 25:1. Notice what I Samuel 15:35 says,. “And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death”: What do we learn? That Samuel really did come back from the death when the witch of Endor called him forth. And we learn that it occurred on the same day that Saul died. Remember that Saul came to the witch in the middle of the night. The next morning Saul was killed in battle. The Jews count their days from sundown to sundown. Therefore the meeting of Saul with the witch of Endor and his death occurred on the same day. I Samuel 15:35 confirms that this was the final meeting of Saul and Samuel.
Saul is an example of a believer who did not live for the Lord after his salvation. He did not lose his salvation, which is impossible. God saves us with “an everlasting salvation” (Isaiah 45:17) and promises that “He will not leave us, nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5).
As Christians, we are told that we can lose rewards and incur the chastisement of our Heavenly Father. Notice II John 8 where we read, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” Also Hebrew 12:6 which says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
Let’s us learn from the lesson of Saul. Let us use our time, talents, and treasures to the glory of God. Let’s begin today!