Three Ways

Saul

What will everyone think of me?

Tags: leadership self-esteem faith integrity

The story so far …

 

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

METHOD 1. Inductive study

What strikes you?

Key Principles?

Application to your circumstances

Action to take?

METHOD 2. Guided study

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...

  • What would you identify;
    • As Saul’s sins?
    • His motivation for them? (v12, 17, 24 & 30 might help)
    • His attitude towards them?
  • How do you behave when you feel insecure, or that you have to ‘prove’ yourself & what are the effects of that?
  • Honestly, how do you respond to your own sin?
  • God promises forgiveness when we repent of our sins. That means accepting responsibility for them and not only feeling remorse but choosing to turn away from them. What do you currently need to repent of? (Be encouraged; if you do God WILL forgive you!)
  • From this passage how would you describe God’s reactions to leaders who will not obey him but court popularity instead? Why do you think that is particularly the case for leaders?
  • Saul’s concern for his status and the opinion of others was far greater than his concern over God’s opinion of him. To what extent is that true of you and what do you need to change/ do to sort that out?

METHOD 3. Reflections on Saul

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.

For ideas on how to use these studies most effectively, click here

Ruth Perrin, the author, is on staff at King's Church Durham and holds an MA in Theology and Ministry.

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