Saul was anointed by God as the first King of Israel. He was a big man, handsome, and had all the physical characteristics humans would want from a leader. At the beginning of his reign, Saul was humble and dependent upon God for his leadership. As a result, God used him to defeat Israel’s enemies and faithfully lead the people. But success led to pride which cost Saul the throne. I’ve covered three chapters in this writing from 1 Samuel. In these three chapters, we will discover the character flaws in Saul that cost him the right to have his lineage rule over Israel. Saul lost the Kingdom because of a few big mistakes that cost him everything.
Traits of Failed Leadership- 1 Samuel 13-15
Disobedience- 13:1-14. The Philistines were Israel’s arch enemy. They controlled most of the land and the Israelites were a thorn in their side. Jonathon was a good warrior and won a battle against the Philistine army. It angered the Philistines, and they gathered a huge army to seek revenge on Israel. Saul gathered his entire army at Gilgal for a huge battle. Samuel asked Saul to wait on him before going to war. Samuel wanted to sacrifice to God and ask His blessing upon Israel. By law, only Samuel could make the sacrifice. Saul waited seven days, but Samuel never came. Saul took matters into his own hands and made the sacrifice himself. Samuel arrived and rebuked Saul for his disobedience (vs. 13-14). Samuel told Saul that God would discontinue his bloodline as Kings of Israel and choose another bloodline.
Fear- v.7. They saw the huge enemy army gathering to oppose them. Instead of trusting in the power of God, they looked at the vastness of their opposition. They were filled with fear which led to disobedience. We often focus on our problems instead of our God. What are your primary fears? Why does fear often lead to disobedience? How should we handle our fears? (Remember Jesus who is perfect love.)
Impatience- v.8. Saul waited on Samuel for seven days to offer the sacrifice. His fear led to his impatience. His impatience led to his disobedience. Often our disobedience is linked to our impatience. What is God trying to teach us when He has us wait on Him?
Peer pressure- v.8. Saul watched his men begin to leave his ranks. His troops were rapidly slipping away. He felt immense pressure to “hurry up and act” because of the actions of his troops. We are often pressured by our peers to make decisions based on their expectations or time schedules.
Impulsive decisions- 14:1-46. Because of fear, Saul lost all his men but 600. Jonathan snuck off with his armor barrier to partake in some guerrilla warfare tactics. God was with Jonathan, and He used Jonathan to confuse the Philistine army. God allowed them to kill one another in their confusion. He brought a great victory to Israel that day. Because Saul was full of fear and pride, he made a foolish oath of calling a fast for all his men. They were famished and exhausted because they had to fight with no food in their stomachs. Because Jonathan was missing, he never heard Saul make the oath. He ate some honey. Saul’s impulsive decision to fast on a day when they would go to war was foolish and impetuous. He didn’t think through his decision. He made a hasty decision based on emotion and pride. The decision nearly cost him Jonathan and was part of the reason he lost the capacity to lead. Think of ways in which impulsive decisions will often undermine leadership?
Inflexibility- 14:40-46. When Saul could not receive the blessing of God to pursue the Philistine army, he began an inquiry into who had broken the fasting oath. When Saul found out Jonathan had broken the oath accidentally, Saul prepared to kill his own son. The people of Israel had to beg him to spare his own son. Saul wanted grace from God, but he was unwilling to pass along grace to his own son. We want others to judge us based on our intentions, but we have a tendency to judge others on their actions. Inflexibility and lack of compassion have destroyed many leaders. What happens to rigid, inflexible leaders? As a leader whom God has called, remember to be teachable, pliable, and humble to the things which God has called you to.
Greed- 15:1-35. Saul slaughtered the Amalekites. God told Saul to completely destroy every living thing. Saul did not kill the King and kept “everything that appealed to them.” Saul allowed his greed to completely disregard what God had commanded. Saul’s greed-fueled his rebellion against God. God rejected Saul as King and removed His presence from Saul. Saul was stripped from his capacity to lead. Greed is always an enemy of good leadership.
Heavenly Father, I ask You to help me recognize the strength which Holy Spirit has made available to me, for faithfulness and dependability in my character. My desire is to be the kind of person others can rely on. I thank You for the gifts and talents You have placed in my life. Please help me bring my character to such a level that You and others will know I can be trusted.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
EMIC Groups Pastor