I love at times to look at the personalities of the characters in the bible. I use the term character not because I believe that the bible is a well written script for our entertainment but because character is the essence of who we are. I believe literally, that the words as written, have the ability to convey the mind of God. So when reading scripture from this perspective we can see people how God sees them. When we can see plainly (or others point out) how our character aligns with those in scripture it is easier to determine how God feels about our actions. In this post I’ve chosen to contrast two such people as recorded in scripture. The tale of two Sauls.
The first Saul was the first King of Israel. 1 Samuel 9, introduces him to us. It says to us that Saul was (like many of you) a good looking person. However the “good” in that verse points to more than looks physically, but also to his outward actions. The way he carried himself among the people was pleasant. And he was tall, he stuck out in a crowd, the average height person came to just his shoulders. Now Saul’s dad was named Kish and before scripture introduced Saul, Kish was introduced. His lineage is declared and we see that Kish was a Benjamite and a mighty man. So although Saul was tall he still had some pretty big shoes to fill. The story picks up with Saul running an errand for his father. We see that Saul respects his father not only in obedience to his request but also in his concern as a father toward a son. Many, if not most of us would have stopped looking for the livestock but it would not have been because we were tired of looking. Or maybe because we had to or wanted to do something different. In other words we likely would have found away to insert our needs into the equation. It would not have been because we were concerned that our parents would have worried about us. Then the servant or hired hand not wanting to return empty handed advised Saul of the honorable man of God. [ Honorable – not merely chosen but acting like God made a good choice, having the character becoming of a servant of the Most High] Some may speak of the customs of the time in their culture to say why Saul sought to bring a gift. I would say to the contrary that Saul had a reverence for God and his representatives. Saul wasn’t trying to bribe the man or find favor through flattery. Therefore he sought to honor Samuel through a gift. Trying to receive prophecy for money from Samuel would have been a bad move anyway as Saul would eventually find out.
Let’s now turn our attention to Saul of Tarsus. Who would later become the first Apostle sent unto the Gentiles. The only of the first apostles that had not physically walked, talked, or been discipled by the Lord Jesus Christ. Today he is most affectionately referred to as the Apostle Paul. But this Saul had a much different introduction, his story picks up in the book of Acts 7:58. At the conclusion (by force and not choice) of Stephen’s powerful message that pierced the hearts of all in attendance we see the young man Saul. At this point he’s not participating in the persecution of God’s people, but as a not so innocent bystander he watches the jackets of the mob that murdered Stephen. In their fury perhaps Saul couldn’t hear, but more than likely he just wasn’t moved when Stephen uttered his last words. As we continue reading we learn that Saul was consenting to his death. Maybe he rallied the men with loud chants or perhaps silently his hatred was pacified as he watched them blow by blow stone him. Physically we know he didn’t join in. No, he didn’t hurl any rocks at the the man who while dying said “Lord lay not this sin to their charge” but by giving consent he might as well have.
Scripture records quite a bit about the lives over time of both Sauls. In part 2 we will explore some of the defining moments that shaped or were shaped by the characters of these men. Perhaps you already know their demise or intend to find out in part 2. The harsh reality is that right now today we could be either of them. We could be the humble good person that have done what we were supposed to do. Or we could be the radical zealot willing to persecute those who belief is contrary to ours. None of us know in full, our end, although it will be determined by our character as God sees it up until then. Let us learn how to end right considering The Tale of Two Sauls.
Grace & Truth,
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