Having discussed the alphaness of young David, who was anointed king, we will contrast his alphaness with the betaness of another young man anointed king, Saul (The same Saul who is David’s king).
When we first meet Saul, he is described thusly: “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” (9:2)*
So, in the realm of physical looks, he had a great, natural advantage of physical dominance over the competition. Too bad he ruins it with beta behaviour.
Saul is looking for some lost donkeys at his father’s request and this interaction occurs:
When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”
But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.”
Saul said to his servant, “If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?”
The servant answered him again. “Look,” he said, “I have a quarter of a shekel[a] of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.” (Formerly in Israel, if someone went to inquire of God, they would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)
“Good,” Saul said to his servant. “Come, let’s go.” So they set out for the town where the man of God was. (9:5-10)
We can already see some beta behaviour here. Despite Saul being blessed physically, he is somewhat indecisive, unwilling to take risks, and allows his servant, his social inferior, to lead him. He lacks leadership.
He meets Samuel the prophet, who tells him anoints him king. A meeting is called of the tribes of Israel where the new king is to be enthroned and this occurs:
When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”
And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”
They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”
Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the Lord. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes.
Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent. (10: 20-27)
Saul is, literally, anointed by God to be King, and when the kingship is to be given him, he hides like a coward instead of taking leadership. Then goes home quietly rather than accept his rule and does not answer those who scorn him. That’s weakness, that’s beta.
Following this, Saul, seized by the Spirit of God, finally takes some leadership when the Ammonites attack Israel:
Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.
When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one. When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand. (11:4-8)
He wins the battle and is anointed king.
He is crowned king, then goes to another battle where he is commanded by God to wait for Samuel to commit a sacrifice:
The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
“What have you done?” asked Samuel.
Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor. ’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
“You have done a foolish thing, ” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”(13:5-14)
First, Saul loses control of his men, (showing a lack of honour) who being to desert him. Then, instead of obeying the commands of God and waiting or showing leadership to control and comfort his men, he decides to violate God’s command out of fear. When rebuked, he dishonourably shifts the blame to his men and circumstances rather than take responsibility for his actions. He loses his future dynasty because of his disobedience.
Saul’s story of beta continues, and will be continued for the series later, but for now we’ll stop here.
In Saul’s first appearance his betaness is made plain. He’s indecisive and let’s his social inferior, his servant, lead him around. He is anointed king, but cowers in fear rather than take the power given him. He then let’s those he rules scorn him without answer. He then has his moment of alpha and takes his kingship.
He follows this up with a complete fiasco. He fails to lead or control his men, who desert him. Instead, he lets their fear and actions drive his behaviour and control his frame.
Saul loses his dynasty because of this lack of leadership, this betaness. In the future, his betaness will result in his continued downwards trajectory.
*All references from 1 Samuel