This is a very interesting title to read about. There are two main people who were called Saul in the Bible. One in the Old Testament who was the first king of Israel, and the other in the New Testament, who perhaps was the last apostle called by the risen Lord.
It is striking that both these men came from the same tribe, the tribe of Benjamin. See 1 Samuel 9:1-2 and compare with Philippians 3:5. The name Saul means ‘asked for’, because the people of Israel had asked Samuel for a king back in 1 Samuel 8. Saul speaks of that which is proud and fleshly, because when we trace the life of the first king of Israel, he walked according to the flesh and disobeyed God. He seems to have started right, wanting to sacrifice to God, but it was not for the king to sacrifice to God, but a priest was the one to do this. However, Saul ended miserably and God rejected him due to his disobedience, which is in 1 Samuel 15. Samuel had to tell Saul that God demands obedience above sacrifices, and it is true in our day that He demands our obedience and reverence to Him first and foremost. A description of Saul before he became king is given in 1 Samuel 9:1-2. This shows that the people want what is from the outside, but God looks at the heart, and He had to remind Samuel about this when he went to anoint a king from the family of Jesse (1 Sam 16:6-7).
What was Saul doing before Samuel anointed him king? He was searching for his father’s asses (donkeys) after they had departed the house! Read this in 1 Samuel 9:3. His mind was after the flesh, spiritually speaking, and not the things of God. It is clear from chapter 15 that Saul rejected God and when he ‘confessed’ to Samuel in chapter 15:25 and verse 30. Saul wanted, or rather, demanded honour above feeling the real need to repent! This is not a heart-felt attitude of confessing sins to God. When David confessed his sin after Nathan spoke to him, David used exactly the same words as Saul used, but David was forgiven because he wrote Psalm 51, and it was a heart-felt experience. Therefore, the prophet Nathan told him that God had forgiven his sin.
Therefore, we see that king Saul started well, but he was not true to God and did not show the proper attitude that a godly king should show. He ended badly, was miserable, was jealous of David and tried to kill him on a few occasions, and then at the end he was killed in battle (1 Samuel 31) and was lost for eternity.
In the New Testament, we see another man named Saul in Acts 7:58 he is introduced as a young man named Saul. He was a Pharisee and a strict Jew (read Philippians 3 the first part). He is one who was witnessing the discourse that Stephen gave to the Jews in Acts 7 and he definitely heard about the Lord Jesus Christ, but he witnessed Stephen’s death and he even consented to this (Acts 8:1; 22:20). He was one who really started bad, but we will see that the Lord Jesus in His grace changed him completely. The next glimpse we have of Saul is that he was a Roman citizen from a town called Tarsus, which was a renown place at that time (Acts 16:37; 21:39; 22:25).
The change in Saul’s life is in Acts 9 when the risen Lord appeared to him on the way to Damascus and taught him that while he was persecuting the Christian people, he was really persecuting the Lord Himself. There, he learned the truth of the one body, that all believers are part of the body of Christ. Paul later wrote this in 1 Corinthians 10, 11 and 12. The other feature in the changed man Saul is that he was found praying when the Lord called Ananias, one of the disciples, and when the disciple was doubtful – he did not outright refuse to go to Saul, but asked the Lord, Jesus told him that Saul is praying (chapter 9:11). We see Saul converted, and immediately preaching that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, and the one who was persecuting Christians was going to be persecuted and suffer many things.
It was later in Acts 13 that Saul became Paul, meaning little. The one who thought of himself as someone big and responsible in the Jewish religion, is now little, and God in His grace used him to write all these wonderful epistles. Saul spent three years in isolation away from the other disciples, in Arabia. It has been mentioned that he went with the law of Moses and the prophets on his back (or in his backpack) and he came back with the epistles on, and in his heart. He was taught in the school of God, and the Lord called him and endorsed his apostleship, so he was not called or endorsed as an apostle by the other existing disciples, but by the Lord Himself! What a wonderful grace, and what a change we see in Saul, who was very religious and thought that he was doing the right thing being approved by the religious leaders, but the Lord did not approve that. In fact, when he did the right thing afterwards and was approved by the Lord, the religious leaders turned against him! Paul even wrote this in 2 Timothy 3:12 that all who desire to live godly lives will suffer, and this is very true! The Word of God records the apostle Paul’s wonderful missionary journeys in the book of Acts, things that we can read and learn from, along with his equally wonderful epistles full of teaching, instruction, correction and encouragement. These are all part of the divine Word of God that we can read and enjoy.
It is remarkable that both these people called Saul were of the same tribe, of Benjamin. One started good but perished because he was not true, and the other started bad, but God intervened and saved him. We see that Paul was indeed true to his faith and was faithful, even though he was still with his errors and mistakes, he was a true believer.