Summary: Saul, man’s kind of king, came so close and yet so far from being God’s man.

Saul- The Bible’s Tragic Hero (Bridge Lane Chapel, 25/08/02, am)



1. Psalm 51

2. 1 Chronicles 10

3. Hebrews 12:12-24

Intro- The Tragic Hero

Greek tragedy (Aristotle) components:

• Unity of time, place and action

• Inspire horror and pity

• Man of greatness with tragic flaw

• Ends in death


• Oedipus (blindness to fate and the gods)

• Hamlet (procrastination)

• Macbeth (ambition)

• Lear (irresponsibility)

• Othello (jealousy)

Question: how can we be acceptable to God? How can we be a Happy Hero, not a Tragic Hero? What is the one flaw we must avoid? How can we be, men and women “after God’s heart” (Acts 13:22)?

What do all of these six characters have in common?

• Cain (Abel)

• Esau (Jacob)

• Saul (Jonathan & David)

• Ahab (Naboth & Elijah)

• Herod Antipas (John the Baptist)

• Judas (Jesus)

All involved with murder or attempted murder.

What do these two characters have in common?

• Moses (the slavedriver)

• David (Uriah)

Both involved with murder.

Now many people would say that good people should go to heaven. By that they mean, anyone who hasn’t committed murder or rape or any other ghastly crimes like that. They say this, because they hope to include themselves in the list of people acceptable to God.

But the odd thing here is that even though all eight of the characters I’ve mentioned are guilty of murder, the last two according to the Bible were actually acceptable to God. Could it be that a murderer could get to heaven, whereas someone who has “never harmed a fly” might end up in hell after all?

I want you to think about why that is, and I’ll come back to it at the end.

We’re going to look at one of the tragic heroes in the first list, Saul. You’ll notice that all of them (repeat list) got very near at times to following God- they are all also-rans of the Bible. And we’ll compare Saul to David, one of the two happy heroes of God. What is the crucial difference between the two, and how can we make sure we are Davids of the faith, not Sauls?

Saul David

1a Man’s kind of king (1 Sam 10:23,24)- good-looking body, David Beckham God’s kind of king (2 Sam 7:8-16)- good-looking soul

1b After people’s praise (1 Sam 18:6-8)- so became envious of songs of praise to Dave! Pharisees After God’s heart (Acts 13:22)- “he will do everything I want him to do.”

2a Cruel (1 Sam 20:30-34; 22:11-19)- calls Jonathan a son of a bitch; takes revenge on God by killing 85 priests and an entire town Kind (2 Sam 9; 1 Chronicles 19:2)- actually goes looking for Saul’s surviving relatives so he can show generosity to them, including the lame Mephibosheth!

2b Violent- throws spear at David three times, whilst David is trying to sooth him with his harp! Even tries to spear his own son Jonathan Avoids violence and respects his persecutor- David has two occasions when he can kill Saul (one when he is peeing, 1 Sam. 24, one when he is asleep, 1 Sam 26); show picture!!

2c Cowardly (1 Sam 17:11; 18:12; 19)- tallest Israeli, won’t fight tallest Philistine!; scared of David and takes advantage of him by seeking to murder him in his bed Courageous (1 Sam 17; 1 Chron 18)- youngest of eight sons of Jesse, fights huge beast with just sling and five stones AND THE LORD- Romans 8:31- “if God is for us, who can be against us?”

3a Unforgiving (1 Sam 14:44; 18:9)- threatens to kill his own son because of his own stupid vow- show picture!! Forgiving (1 Sam 26)- forgives Saul and other enemies who show contrition, such as Abner (1 Chr 3)

3b Unrepentant (1 Sam 15:10-31)- doesn’t kill Agag Amalekite and keeps his stuff; does a dodgy sacrifice instead and then lies about it- 1 Sam 15:22,23 [keep thumb in it!]

Ungodly sorrow (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10- “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death”; Hebrews 12:16,17- “Esau could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears”) Repentant (2 Sam 12:13; 24:10)- admits sin of Bathsheba & Uriah to Nathan; immediately shows sorry for the census

4 Did his own thing- offers sacrifices without priests, goes chasing into battle without consulting God, makes stupid oaths without God’s permission; tried perhaps to do the right thing, but in his own strength and for his own glory Consulted God- see list below

5a Separated from God (1 Sam 16:14; 28)- after many opportunities to be led by God’s spirit, he ends up being tormented by a demon, and even seeking help from witchcraft, which he had previously banned! Show pictures!!!! Died from suicide. Show final two pictures!!! At peace with God (Psalm 4:8; 37:11)- “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety…the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” Died in his bed.

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