Saul, the first anointed king of Israel had a mixed track record with God. Chosen from the whole nation and given great honour and victory in battle he was a mighty leader. However, his inability to keep God’s instructions had got him into serious trouble before (1 Sam 13) and now things reached crunch point…
Read 1 Samuel 15
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Application to your circumstances
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In the west, in our (relatively) peaceful time and nation it is hard to picture such events. However, given the nature of the period in history and assuming that a loving God had a good reason for these instructions...
Saul had what we today would call ‘low self esteem’. He really didn’t want the job of king, but rather than be honest – like Gideon or Moses, and cry out for God’s help, he became a politician, courting the good opinion of those he was supposed to lead. ‘Spin’ was what mattered to Saul, the monuments, the status, ‘what other people thought of him.’
All of this came out of his personal sense of inferiority but God did understand. He reminded Saul,
“Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head over the tribes of Israel?
The LORD anointed you king over Israel.”
It was God who gave him the position, not the people, but Saul took his eyes off God and decided to play by human rules, courting public opinion and refusing to take responsibility for his sin. “They made me do it” was the cry of Saul’s life – not very dignified or honourable for a mighty leader and certainly not going to cut it with God!
God used people with far less influence, talent or popularity that Saul, but the difference is that they obeyed, relied on God – and he didn’t. The kingship became ‘his’ rather than a role God had asked him to fulfil. If he were around today Saul’s song would have been “It’s all about ME, Jesus!”
It’s easy to fall into the same trap as leaders, for it to become about ‘us’, our status, our position, not about God and serving his people. Feeling small is not an excuse for disobeying God. Saul had his leadership removed because he could not be trusted with it. God still does the same today. It doesn’t matter if you feel inadequate or inferior – if God has chosen you he has chosen you, and if you hang on to him, and OBEY he will be your strength. The fear of other people will not be what controls your life & decisions. Who knows what you could achieve!
Ultimately Saul’s obsession with his own status and the opinions of others drove him mad – literally. He died a pitiful death – still worrying what he would look like. Let’s not fall into the same trap!
© Ruth Perrin 2008. Last revised on 1 December 2008
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Cloud of Witnesses is a series of Bible studies on the men and women of scripture. You'll find everyone from Gideon and Andrew through to Tamar and Tabitha.
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Ruth Perrin, the author, is on staff at King's Church Durham and holds an MA in Theology and Ministry.
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