09(1Sam 13-14) Profile of a Fallen Leader
Saul – Anatomy of Rejected Leadership
Saul started well. It is a miscalculation to see Saul only as the mean and jealous king who torments David. Such a caricature misses the complexity of life with which Saul wrestled and ultimately failed. He was a man of noble character who in many ways was never prone to the snares that entrapped David. In fact, God presents a man who had the advantages we think essential to good leadership.
First, though he humbly described himself as being from the smallest clan, Scripture indicates he was nevertheless from a powerful family. His father, Kish, is described in 1 Samuel 9:1 as a mighty man of power.
Secondly, Saul was the choice son of the family. Saul was a handsome man. He was literally head and shoulders above everyone (1 Samuel 9:2). He had the markings of natural leadership. Of regal stature, he had the potential of being every inch a king. The people of Israel responded to his physical appearance with shouts of acceptance. He looked the part.
King Saul was not like King Ahab, who was perhaps Israel's most evil king. Saul’s mistakes were not the result of diabolical plans. His weaknesses are those of which all Christians must be keenly aware. Such fallen characteristics are subtle, and if left unchecked, will weaken and limit Christians today, drowning them in bitterness and bondage, not knowing the reasons for falling out of favor with God. They would struggle endlessly with no clear victories and fulfillment, while at the same time becoming a stumbling block in the Kingdom.
Saul’s Calling (1 Samuel 9:16-17)
Saul was called by God to be the commander over Israel, to reign over them and save them from the hand of the Philistines.
There is a definite purpose for every leader chosen by God. Saul was to be commander of God’s people, the human arms and hands of God who would direct the Israelites to victory in times of war and provide their governance in times of peace.
Saul’s Courage (1 Samuel 11:1-6)
Nahash the Ammonite appears in chapter 11 and offers to subdue the nation by plucking out the right eyes of every Israelite in Jabesh. This causes a fear among the people which spreads to the attention of Saul.
Saul’s Compassion (1 Samuel 11:12-13)
The people suggested that those who did not recognize King Saul, be put to death, but with forgiveness, he prevailed and won the hearts of the people.
Saul Lacked Focus (1 Samuel 13:1-2)
King Saul reigned 3 years, during which he apparently accomplished nothing and prepared nothing for the future. This was where his failures and downfall began. He had no vision. Even if he had, he did nothing about it. He did not prepare or equip his people for war against the enemy during these 3 years. A very common mistake of many leaders. With whole Israel rallying behind him, he had only 3000 soldiers - 2000 with himself and 1000 with Jonathan, and the rest he sent away. He could see only himself and not beyond. He strengthened only himself and not the Kingdom. When the time came for real war, he had only 2 swords, 1 for himself and the other for his son (1 Samuel 13:22).
The enemy prepared their people while Saul did not (1 Samuel 13:5). He was king only for himself. This caused the people to run into hiding, and the rest that stood with him were trembling.
Vision is not found in daydreams. Vision is not to be found in copying other churches’ so called success. Vision is in many ways following through on what God has already established in His Word. It means to be faithful to the Word in preaching, to be bold enough to stand with the Word in difficult issues. It means to be about the business of spreading the gospel message beyond Jerusalem and Samaria.
Vision is not a catch phrase of the latest church growth guru. It is to be a leader. A spiritual leader has vision. He sees the needs of his congregation. He sees the needs of the community in which he works. He senses the fear of the people, the sins of the flock. He teaches and preaches and moves them in the direction of God’s will. He must do this. He is the leader. No committee is the leader. No deacon group is the leader. No congregational vote is the leader. What is needed is a shepherd. Jesus tells us of the conditions of Israel when there was no spiritual leadership. There was plenty of spiritual bureaucracy but no true leadership. Mark 6:34 says, “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”
Saul Lacked Faith (1 Samuel 13:8-9)
When he saw the people scattering, he violated God's laws and did what he was not supposed to do. It was an unlawful sacrifice. He assumed the place of the priest when he was not called to be one. He was looking to the strength of men and when put under pressure, he resorted to pleasing men rather than God. God may seem late, but He is always on time. It will require great faith to be God's leader, yes, more than that of any ordinary person. But this is what God's leader must have, this is what sets them apart. This is where Saul and many other leaders fail. While he did all that was humanly possible to face the impending doom and to keep his throne, his own son with his armor-bearer by faith in God defeated the whole garrison of the Philistines and set them to flight.
Saul Lost the Kingdom (1 Samuel 13:14)
Does God set tests for His leaders? Yes, not to fail them but to make manifest their hearts that they may see for themselves and be rewarded if they have done well or repent if they fail. Saul did not repent, which we shall see at a later time, and thus for Kingdom sake, the throne would have to be taken from him and be given to others more worthy to do the job. He would not be capable of finishing the task. Anointing and grace come at God's time, but one will have to continue to persevere in faith and character at all times, putting the Kingdom before self. It is impossible to obey God without putting faith in Him.