And we do so again for good reason, too many to list!
But key questions is why among humans is he termed in The Word: “A Man after God’s heart.” Not once, but twice. First when he was annointed by the prophet Samuel after God led Samuel to annoint a son of Jesse, after king Saul repeatedly disobeyed The Word of God.
1. Fatal Beginning: I Samuel 8:4-7 (Read)
The Elders (the Leaders) uncoupled themselves from God’s leadership.
They decided instead to obey their own desires – their voice/their
desires will be King. (This is a repeat of Genesis 3 when desires become King)
Samuel’s Warning (1 Samuel 8:10-18)
God warns his people through the prophet Samuel that the leader they elect will bring trials upon them. The phrase “He will take” is repeated in verses 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.
He will take:
- Your sons
- Your daughters
- The best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards
- A tenth of your grain
- Your male and female servants, and your donkeys
- A tenth of your flocks…and you shall be his slaves.
This is important: Whenever you uncouple your life from God and listen to another voice, that voice takes. He will take.
John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life, and to have it to the full…the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy…(i.e. to take).
Samuel 8:18 – Just hold on to that, there will be a day when you cry out and the LORD will not answer!
People’s Response (1 Samuel 8:19-20)
Even after God’s warning, the people respond – “No, we don’t want God as our King, we want what we want, we want to be like everyone else. Just like the kid in the movie, “We want ice cream!”
The LORD’s Response (1 Samuel 8:22)
Verse 22 is such a scary and sobering voice. The Lord said to Samuel: “Obey their voice.” Let them lead. “Make them a king.” Give them a king in their own image. One who is emotionally immature, a king who will easily uncouple himself from God’s instruction.
2. Saul’s Downward Spiral of Leadership
It is worth noticing in 1 Samuel 9:1-2 that Saul is wealthy, handsome, and tall. These are all of the external qualities the world is looking for in a leader. Yet, it is not those qualities which make great leaders.
Saul’s 1st Leadership Test – Chapter 13
Samuel (representing God’s voice) tells Saul to go to Gilgal and prepare to fight against the Philistines. Saul is instructed to wait 7 days for Samuel to arrive. When Samuel arrives, he is supposed to give an offering (seeking the Lord’s favor in battle) and give instruction to Saul.
So here is the real leadership test. It is not the fight against the enemy (Philistines), the real fight is against himself. Will Saul obey they voice of the Lord or will he “eat the ice cream?”
Question: As a leader, are you willing to be led by God’s Word, even when you have to wait? Even when it looks like things are falling apart and people are abandoning you? Even when everyone else is doing business another way? When those things happen, who’s voice do you obey? This is a constant challenge!
Read 1 Samuel 13:8-11 – This is oh so painful. So familiar to times in my own life! In verse 10, if he had just waited a little. In verse 11, he is skilled in blame shifting. He says “I saw,” meaning that he follows what he sees, not God’s instructions. He blames the people, then Samuel, and then the Philistines. Everyone gets thrown under the bus, except Saul! In verse 12, he says “So I forced myself”. In other words: it was difficult to go against God’s word, but I forced myself. Saul uncouples himself from God’s Word.
Back to the key point, your biggest enemy is yourself!
A Second Similar Test – Chapter 15
Who’s word will Saul obey? Samuel gives Saul specific instructions to destroy the wicket Amalekites. “Saul, go to war and don’t bring anything back.”
Saul’s response is in 1 Samuel 15:9. Saul keeps the king (Agag) and the best of the livestock alive. Verse 12 tells us that after the battle, Saul sets up a monument to himself. His voice, his desires are king. 1 Samuel 15:19-21 display so many poor leadership traits: Blame shifting, the fear of man, and a disconnect between his leadership and those he leads.
1 Samuel 15:23b is the LORD’s response. “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king.”
Following David’s defeat of Goliath (Read vs. 6-9), Saul’s emotionally immaturity intensifies. Saul’s childish response is so incredibly unattractive. He drifts further from God. Saul is uncoupled from God’s word and is slowly being destroyed.
Saul is nearing the end of his reign. He is now completely uncoupled from God’s voice and under great pressure from the Philistines.
Read 1 Samuel 28:5-6. Saul doesn’t cry out to repent, he doesn’t cry out for a restored relationship with God. No, he cries out for rescue. He is only concerned about himself. Recall 1 Samuel 8:18. God did not answer him in that day.
Read 1 Samuel 28:7 . Saul, who once forced himself to go against God’s Word now easily consults a Medium, a Necromancer.
Leaders, please listen. Sin, when left unchecked, grows. When you uncouple yourself from God’s word, it may seem like a small thing in the beginning. But when left unchecked, it is catastrophic.
Saul commits suicide. John 10:10. The enemy wins. Saul’s total destruction. The failure of obedience can have some heavy consequences. Saul loses himself, his sons, and a nation.
For/with David, The Lord Was His Rock And Fortress
It is easy to feel afraid when enemies surround us. We may never know when the next attack would be. However, David did not fail to take courage in the Lord, for He was his rock and refuge.
- Psalms 18:2; 31:2,3- David regarded the Lord as his rock and his fortress when the Lord rescued him from the hand of Saul and his other enemies.
- Psalms 62:2, 6-Enemies did not significantly shake him because His rock and His fortress was the Lord.
- Psalms 71:3-God was his rock and refuge to which he may continually come.
- Psalms 94:22-Although the wicked rulers against him, he claims the assurance that God was the rock of his refuge.
Being a person after God’s Own heart means that your life is in harmony with God. Your life is in sync with God. What makes Him sad makes you sad! What’s important to Him is important to you! When He tells you go to go one way, you trust Him and follow!
And we pray:
O Lord, my Heavenly Father, I praise Your holy name. I pray for Your will to be done in my life and in this world, for Your way to be done here on Earth as it is done in Heaven. I am not in control, Lord, You are, even though that is often hard for me to admit and accept. Father, renew a right spirit within me. Guide and lead me for this extremely short period in existence. The true joy and fulfillment is yet to be seen. I ask, beg and plead that You become my only reason, Amen.
Praying for the will of God to be done in and through our lives on earth, as it is in heaven, means that we are willing to go through whatever might prevent that purpose from being accomplished. Our prayer is that we want to be so aligned with the will and purpose of God that we ask God to empower us to accomplish it.