Big Saul started out as Little Saul. Little Saul started out as Big Saul. Both were of the tribe of Benjamin. The first Saul considered that pedigree a little thing; the second Saul considered it a big thing. The first Saul exalted himself to his own destruction; the second Saul abased himself to his own salvation and exaltation. The first Saul feared the people; the second Saul feared only God.
King Saul is memorialized and honored in Jewish history as
Israel’s first king. Yet the
Hebrew Scriptures reveal a man of poor character, devoid of a personal
relationship with Yahweh, God of Israel. He was superstitious, paranoid,
and vindictive. He constantly relied on his own devices and feared the disapproval
of men. In the end, King Saul consulted a medium for guidance since the LORD had abandoned him.
Saul of Tarsus, on the other hand, began his career as an honored leader of Pharisaic Judaism in the 1st century A.D, a disciple of the renowned theologian Gamaliel. This Saul took pride in being of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). His zeal for what he considered to be the truth of God moved him to persecute the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, whom Saul considered to be a threat to the covenant faith of
Israel. After his encounter with
the risen Jesus, however, Saul of Tarsus cast off all honor and prestige,
preferring to be known as Paul, his Greek name meaning “little.” (See Philippians 3:4-14; Acts
13:9ff) Though persecuted relentlessly, Paul committed himself to the Lord
(Acts 20:22-24; Philippians 1:19-21). Paul, “Little Saul,” sought no approval
from men (Galatians 1:10, 15-24).
Jesus said, "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12), and “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). No two men in Scripture illustrate this contrast better than Saul Ben-Kish and Saul of Tarsus.