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Saul epitomizes many who say and do believe (acknowledge mentally) the existence of God, but have not allowed Him to transform their thinking and thus their behavior. They do not decide/choose to do the things they already know God wants, let alone, even know what His precepts are as given in the Bible. However, God's ways, which we know are higher than ours, and His plans go right on, the consequences of our actions accrue and are brought forth and we bring on ourselves all kinds of disasters. Oh, and then we blame God! Truly there is nothing new under the sun!
This will always be a great debate because only God knows for sure but here are some thoughts and even may bring up another question that will start a firestorm of answers, if Saul was a true believer, did he lose his salvation? But, I'm not going there right now, just gonna try to answer the original question. Point 1: King Saul was chosen. "Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen." (I Sam 10: 24) Point 2: King Saul was anointed. "Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head....the Lord hath anointed thee." (I Sam 10: 1) Point 3: The Spirit of God was promised to come upon Saul. "And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee." (I Sam 10: 6) Point 4: Likewise, the ability to prophesy was promised to Saul. "...and thou shalt prophesy with them." (I Sam 10: 6) Point 5: Saul would be turned into 'another man.' "... and shalt be turned into another man." (I Sam 10: 6) Point 6: Saul was given another heart. "God gave him another heart." (I Sam 10: 9) Point 7: The other signs promised to Saul came to pass. "... and all those signs came to pass that day." (I Sam 10: 9) Point 8: The Spirit of God came upon Saul. ".. the Spirit of God came upon him." (I Sam 10: 10) Point 9: Saul prophesied. "... he prophesied among them." (I Sam 10: 10) Point 10: Again, the Spirit of God came upon Saul. (I Sam 11: 6) THEN Point 11: The Spirit of God departed from Saul. "... the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul." (I Sam 16: 14) Point 12: An evil spirit was upon Saul. (I Sam 16: 23) Point 13: The Lord departed from Saul (I Sam 18: 12) Point 14: Among other things, Saul plotted murder (I Sam 18: 11) Point 15: The Lord became Saul's enemy (I Sam 15: 24) Point 16: The kingdom was taken from Saul, and Saul ultimately committed suicide.
In Hosea 13:11 the Lord stated.." So in my anger I gave you a king, and in my wrath I took him away." The Lord obviously knew of Saul's shortcomings and the Lord was not pleased at the peoples rebellion against him by the the Israelites in asking for a king. As Jim said above it is a question certainly open for debate. I think he was a believer but he was weak as all of us are.
One sunday morning in church the pastor came out and bluntly said that King Saul went to hell. I for one am a firm believer that it is God and only God that makes that final decision. In looking at 1Samuel 28:19 Saul had gone to a medium to conjure up Samuels spirit. When Samuel spirit did materialize from where he was at he was very upset of course but he said something to Saul that should give us the answer of whether or not Saul was saved. In verse 19 Samuel is telling King Saul that by " tomorrow you and your sons will be WITH ME". We all know that Samuel was a godly man and went to heaven. In the previous verse we find Samuel telling King Saul that he and his sons that tomorrow they are going to be in heaven with him after they are killed. If someone has a different interpretation of that verse please enlighten me, but according to this verse I believe that yes King Saul was saved.
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