After a recent blog on the parable of the four soils (see here), I received this follow up question:
Hi Bob, another excellent teaching. Thank you and God bless!
Do you think the life of King Saul would be a good example of eternal security in spite of being out of fellowship with the Lord? He was apparently saved at the beginning (1 Sam 10:6) but fell into a prolonged period of sin, and apparently died out of fellowship. But yet, we read in 1 Sam 28:19 Samuel telling Saul that he would be with him [in Paradise] tomorrow.
Then we read in 1 Sam 31:4 Saul being sorely wounded in battle and committing suicide immediately thereafter; fulfilling Samuel’s prophecy.
This is one of the Bible texts that helped me greatly in my evolution from Arminian to eternal security believer. What do you think? Is 1 Sam 28:19 a good eternal security verse?
I basically agree with him, but with, as you might expect, a twist.
When Samuel says, “And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me,” he may have simply meant that Saul and his sons would be in Sheol, the place of all dead. Both believers and unbelievers prior to Jesus’ ascension went to Sheol, though one part was the good place where believers stayed and the other was the bad place where unbelievers were in torment. Compare Luke 16:19-31 and the rich man and Lazarus. However, since Samuel says “you will be with me,” that strongly suggests they would be in the same part of Sheol as he was, the part for believers, Paradise (Luke 23:43).
So, yes, I’d say that is a good OT eternal security verse in a roundabout way. However, King Saul was not an example of an idolatrous, immoral believer.
King Saul was certainly a troubled man. He was not a mature believer. He is never called a friend of God or a man after God’s own heart as Abraham and David were. But whereas Solomon died as an idolater with 1000 wives and concubines (1 Kings 11:4-13), Saul was not an idolater and he did not multiply wives.
I think of Saul like a baby Christian (1 Cor 3:1-4). Of course, the term Christian did not apply until after Pentecost. But he was a baby believer in terms of maturity.
My point is this: King Saul is not presented in Scripture as one of the bad kings of Israel, or later the Southern or Northern kingdom. If I had to guess, I’d say he fits in with the good kings since he was not an idolater and he did not lead the nation into idolatry.
So he may not be one of the greatest examples of eternal security.
I think King Solomon is a better example of eternal security in spite of unfaithfulness and failure. However, unlike Saul we have no direct statement that he went to Paradise. Yet there is solid evidence he is with the Lord.
First, the Lord appeared to Him on multiple occasions and gave him wisdom, riches, power, and fame. Second, he is the author of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Does God have unbelievers write books of Scripture? Third, the Lord Jesus referred to Solomon’s glory without any hint that Solomon was unregenerate (Matt 6:29). Fourth, God gave Solomon the task of building the temple, which is something He likely would not have given to an unbeliever. Fifth, God chose Solomon to be His son, that is, one of His representatives on earth until Messiah comes, the ultimate Son of God (2 Sam 7:14-16; 1 Chron 28:6).
Gotquestions.org is not a Free-Grace website. But they discuss the question of whether Solomon was born again and conclude, “Solomon went to heaven to be with the God he loved and served. Despite his failures and shortcomings, Solomon was saved, by grace through faith, just as we are today.” (See here for the whole article.)