You know what’s great about Saul? He’s tall. It’s mentioned more than once in the description of him. Oh yeah, and he comes from the humblest of families in the smallest of tribes, Benjamin. Seriously, I guess this “born in a log cabin” stuff has a long history.
He is also painted as quite moody. How does he get Israel to unite and liberate the city? He cuts up a couple of oxen and says, “This is what happens to those that don’t follow us into battle.” When he is flying high on his first military victory and the end of questions about his legitimacy, he spares the doubters, even though some suggest they should be put to death.
The we get Samuel’s farewell speech, which is much more of a bummer than even Obama’s. He does call down thunder and rain before reminding the people what a bunch of screw ups they are. Also, he lists the important heroes who delivered the sinful Israelites: Gideon, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel (or Samson depending on the manuscript). More evidence of complex tradition. I’m not sure at all that Jephthah was a good guy.
Interesting note: When describing the army that follows Saul, it is 300,000 from Israel and 30,000 from Judah. 1 Sam 11:8. That’s an interesting division since the kingdoms have not yet been divided.