The life of Saul is narrated in 1 Samuel chapters 9-15. Saul was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, one of the smallest tribes and one which settled the hill country east of Jerusalem. Saul was a very tall man and especially handsome. (1 Samuel 9:2, 21)
Respecting his character, he was not self-promoting. When Samuel anointed Saul as king, Samuel did so privately and was very encouraging. “Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?…The Spirit of the LORD will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you." 1 Samuel 10:1,6-7 (NIV).
After this, Samuel held a public ceremony to install Saul as king. But Saul still did not seek the position. In fact, he tried to hide from it. 1 Samuel 10:21,22, “Saul son of Kish was taken (chosen to be King). But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” So we see that he did not have a prideful nature.
Saul was clever and effective in battle and waged successful military campaigns against the enemies of Israel all around. 1 Samuel 14:47, 48 "After Saul had assumed rule over Israel, he fought against their enemies on every side: Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment on them. He fought valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, delivering Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them." This made him very popular with the people of Israel.
Saul earned his reputation a a mighty warrior but he was not a man of principle. He succumbed to what we call ‘situational ethics.’ He acted according to what would bring immediate results regardless of what God had commanded of him. His inability to act on principle in difficult situations was the core of his eventual demise, his decline into madness and his rejection as king.
1 Samuel 13:11-14 “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time…I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure…because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”