The first of the Jewish Kings – Saul – was a man of great presence, nobility and power. His life and adventures are narrated in 1 Samuel but there seems to be two competing narratives in this book. One is of a great King: a man ‘full of the spirit of the Lord’. The other is a troubled creature distracted by ‘the evil spirit of the Lord’.
Saul clearly struggled with mental ill health. The psalmist David was recruited from his sheep to sooth Saul’s troubled mind but this initially healing relationship broke down when Saul became threatened by David’s growing popularity and influence.
During his later life Saul clearly exhibited some kind of mania – was it a clinical illness, a manic love of power or status, a terrible combination of both or something else entirely?