When we looked at Samuel, we saw many qualities of a good leader. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Saul. He draws a blueprint of what a bad leader is.
1. He relied on his own wisdom instead of God’s. When the Philistines seemed to be in confusion, he sought God’s word through the priest, but then when things really seemed to be going crazy in the Philistine camp, he basically told the priest, “Never mind,” and went to battle without seeking the Lord. Later on, when he was planning to attack the Philistines again, he again was ready to go without consulting God, and had to be reminded by the priest that he should seek God first. Relying on his own wisdom possibly led to his second mistake.
2. He made rash decisions. First, during the first attack, he made an oath that anyone who ate before he had avenged himself on the Philistines would be cursed. As a result, his army quickly tired, and although they won a great victory, the victory could’ve been more complete had he not made that oath. Not only that, because his army was so famished, they started breaking God’s law by eating meat with the blood still in it. So by his actions, Saul caused his people to sin.
Further, when God was silent, Saul vowed to kill the person that God revealed as the one who caused his silence. And when that person turned out to be his son Jonathan, whose only crime was unknowingly breaking Saul’s foolish oath by eating honey, Saul was ready to kill him. Only the people that were there were able to save Jonathan from Saul’s hand.
3. He lived to serve himself more than he did to serve God or others. The whole reason he made the oath was an entirely selfish one. He put personal revenge over the needs of his army, and that’s what caused the whole mess in the first place.
4. Probably his biggest problem was pride. Saul started out as a humble man, who felt incapable of leading a nation. Had he kept that attitude, and sought the wisdom of God, his kingdom would’ve lasted longer. Instead, he pushed ahead in his own wisdom, put himself ahead of his own people, and stubbornly continued down the wrong path, even when he knew he was wrong. And as a result, he lost everything.
How about you? Are you a leader ruled by your own pride? Or are you a leader ruled by God’s wisdom? As James wrote,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God.….Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:6-7, 10)