Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and T.A., I sometimes wonder about the salvation of those who seem to start out obeying God but then do something or some things that are very wrong. I’m thinking of people like Saul and Solomon and even Judas. Do you think they will end up in heaven?”
Tom: Dave, as you know, we have staff devotions at The Berean Call every morning and a little fellowship, some prayer, and then we get into the Scriptures for as much time as we have left. And we’ve been going through 1 Samuel and now we are going through 2 Samuel. Well, 1 Samuel—Saul is a very interesting character. Talk about starting out right! He seems to be a humble guy and God anoints him. In terms of his stature, he’s taller than all around; he has some features that you’d say might be what a king might have, and so on. But spiritually, or to use this phrase, he “goes south” very quickly. What do you think about Saul?
Dave: I remember—whoo—it must be thirty years ago at least—hearing someone preach a sermon that had a pretty catchy title. You might want to try it yourself, Tom. It was titled, “Tall Saul, His Call and Fall.”
Tom: That is clever.
Dave: That’s pretty good. I don’t know Saul’s heart. At the beginning, he seems to be very humble, he’s hiding in “the stuff,” it says.
Tom: Reluctant, like Moses was reluctant?
Dave: Right, reluctant to be elevated to any position, but he is lifted up with pride—when he gets in as king, then power, seemingly, corrupts him. He is…well, not only that, I mean—I’m jumping ahead now—power seemingly corrupts him because he doesn’t want to give this up, and he hates David, and he is pursuing David to kill him because David is a rival. And he is jealous of David because after Goliath is killed, then he hears the women singing, “Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten thousands,” but there is something else involved there. He also plays to the audience.
Tom: Right, fear of men rather than fear of God?
Dave: Yeah, he says “the people wanted this,” and “the people made me do this,” and he shades the truth a bit. In other words, he’s holding on to his position. He begins to love the adulation that he has received.
Tom: And the power, as you said.
Dave: Yeah. Now what his heart really was to begin with—whether he really was…he certainly wasn’t God’s man, although God chose him, but it was the best God could find at that time, apparently. David was not yet of the age. He was much younger.
Tom: But, Dave, I think—before we jump ahead to Solomon and maybe Judas in the short time we have—I find it fascinating that David—I won’t say he esteemed or revered, but he dealt with Saul in a very special way: God’s anointed. Now, would this have to do with the position of Saul with reference to God or, I won’t say he cut some slack—he bends over backwards in regards to Saul’s position, and is it the man himself as well?
Dave: I don’t think so, and I wouldn’t say he was…well, you are saying he was bending over backwards…
Tom: Well, he had opportunities to save himself.
Dave: Yeah, he could have killed Saul, but Saul was the anointed of the Lord, and he would not: “God forbid that I should touch the Lord’s anointed.” I think that had to do with the position; he is the king, we are supposed to revere rulers, even today—not to speak evil against them.
Tom: Even those…the one who claimed to have killed Saul? You know, he took him out right away.
Dave: Right, yes, “How dare you lift up your hand against the Lord’s anointed?” and so forth. David was the opposite of Saul. He was a very humble man, and even as he is fleeing Jerusalem, and they’re throwing stones at him and cursing him and so forth, and one of his nephews said, “I am going to go out and take his head off.”
“No, don’t do that.”
David—he had his faults as well, you know; he really fell, big time, with Bathsheba—had her husband killed, Uriah the Hittite. But on the other hand, he repented very quickly; whereas Saul, when he was confronted with his sin by Samuel, he justified himself. Whether he was truly a believer and belonged to God, belonged to the Lord, and would be in heaven, that I don’t know, I can’t say.
I think Solomon must have been a true believer, because of what we are told about him, and he wrote much scripture.
Judas, we know is in hell—it said he would “go to his place.” We know he was a thief, he had the bag—he was a false disciple. He went along with it.
Tom: “And one of you is the son of the devil.”
Dave: Adevil: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” John [6:70].
Tom: And his so-called repentance was more self-pity and sorrow than true repentance.
Dave: Tom, we can’t judge these people’s hearts. We can only know for sure the ones that the Bible tells us of, and it does tell us that Judas is in hell. It doesn’t tell us that of either Saul or Solomon, but we can, I think, read between the lines. I don’t know about Saul. I suspect, I think Solomon is in heaven, but maybe we will have some listeners who will write in and give us reasons from the Scriptures.
Tom: Dave, the thing that I love about the Old Testament, certainly the New Testament, in terms of its historical context, Romans:15:4 says: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope,” and 1 Corinthians:10:11 says, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [or examples]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”