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The son of Kish; he ruled Israel as its first king for twenty years about the year 1000 B.C. He was a tall, handsome, impressive man in appearance (I Samuel 9:2-3), but his complex personality brought him trouble. When the people of Israel begged Samuel, their highly respected prophet and judge, to get them a king in order to protect their security, Samuel consulted Yahweh, who recommended Saul (I Samuel 8-10). At first he proved very successful because of his military achievements (I Samuel 11:14-15), but he did not show respect or obedience to Yahweh, and Samuel, who had gained the kingship for him, became disenchanted. Instead, he encouraged the advancement of Saul's son-in-law, David, and even secretly anointed him as the future king (I Samuel 13:8-15). Saul became insanely jealous of David and several times tried to have him killed. Ironically, both Saul's daughter, Michal, who was married to David (I Samuel 19:11-12), and Jonathan, his son, sided with the young man against their father and did everything possible to protect David from the maddened king (I Samuel 19:1-7). Finally, in a fierce battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, all three of Saul's sons were killed. Badly wounded, the king killed himself (I Samuel 31:1-6). This cleared the way for David to become King of Israel for the next forty years.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.