Just as we remember our past conflicts the Hebrew writers remembered theirs. Why are we so narcissistic?
Daniel 7:4 says, “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given it.” (emphasis added).
We have not been sufficiently forearmed and enlightened to foresee the allegorical as descriptive. But the ancient writers interwove all books to create a reliable, pure golden thread of certainty. It is time to interpret at the higher level the colorful configuration, what may be called divine ideation. Saul’s standout features are as follows:
• “Lion” had “eagle’s wings”: — In Proverbs 23:4–5, the writer narrates concerning eagle’s wings, saying, “Labour not to be rich … riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle towards heaven.” So this king we need to identify had riches, and this was synonymous with eagle wings. In the book of Samuel, Saul took the spoils of the Amalekites, sheep and oxen, and the chief of the things that should have been utterly destroyed. See also the stock of Saul in Chronicles. Saul’s riches transgressed the word of the Lord, with the quick destruction of the Amalekites. Saul was rich and quick-footed like a lion. Saul matches the description of eagle wings.
• “The wings thereof were plucked”: — “Plucked,” from merat, indicates “peeled,” “polished” (confident, elegant, and skilled). This is exactly how Saul was characterized. “There was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish … a mighty man of power (substance, wealth). And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he” (1 Sam. 9:1–2). Saul overwhelmingly demonstrated all these superior facets. Saul matches the sophistication emanating from the word plucked.
• “Lifted up from the earth” and “stand upon the feet as a man”: — In Daniel, the lion “was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man.” A lion standing upright on his hind legs would be taller than any man. Very tellingly, Saul, “from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (1 Sam. 9:2). Every scholar knows Saul was mighty in height. Numerous times, artists have drawn Saul’s lion like stance towering over others. Only Saul could be said, in early chronicles, to be this one.
• “And a man’s heart was given to it” (the lion): — Samuel anointed Saul (1 Sam. 10:1), “And it was so, that when he (Saul) had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart” (1 Sam. 10:9). This must have been the world’s first heart transplant. It is more than just a coincidence that Saul matches the fourth characteristic. Saul is the only grand character to be given a new heart.
From Daniel’s laboratory, we have specific attributes of the lion. Saul perfectly passes four tests, with flying colors, in a clinical autopsy. Saul was the king who had riches, Saul was polished, Saul was lifted up, and Saul was given a new heart. This is picture-perfect, indisputable, beyond a reasonable doubt. Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves, but it is getting exciting that we are able to pin Saul down as the lion king. What would Disney think?
Let’s also quote a few direct texts from the KJV to outline Saul’s character and why he was identified as a lion beast in Daniel:
• “that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul” (1 Sam. 18:10)
• “and Saul became David’s enemy continually” (1 Sam. 18:29)
• “Saul sought to smite David even to the wall” (1 Sam. 19:10)
• “Saul sent messengers to take David” (1 Sam. 19:20) … “again the third time” (1 Sam. 19:21)
• “Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan” (1 Sam. 20:30)
• Saul disguised himself “and they came to the woman by night … pray thee, divine unto me” (1 Sam. 28:8)
• Saul “fell likewise upon his sword” (1 Sam. 31:5)