Saul’s Poor Leadership

Text: 1 Samuel 15:34-35

Following Saul’s failure to carry out the mission against the Amalekites, God regretted making him king. Saul had been made king over God’s people, yet failed in this role. Why was he a failure? Why was God sorry that He made him king? Throughout his reign, Saul demonstrated poor leadership. We need to learn from him, regardless of the position we have. Anyone can be guilty of these sins, even if we are not a “leader.”

Offered Sacrifice Instead of Waiting for Samuel (1 Samuel 13:8-14)

  • The Philistines assembled to fight against Saul (v. 5) – the people were afraid (v. 6-7); since Samuel was delayed, Saul offered sacrifices himself (v. 8-9); he acted impatiently (v. 10); he panicked (led by fear) and “forced” himself to disobey (knew it was wrong)
  • Impatience leads to sin (Matthew 4:8-10; Hebrews 13:4)
  • Must not go beyond our role (Ephesians 5:22-24; 6:1, 5-7; 1 Timothy 2:11-12; Hebrews 13:17)
  • Must not react in fear (Matthew 10:28; Revelation 2:10)
  • Must not do what we know to be wrong (James 4:17)

Forbid His Army from Enjoying God’s Blessings (1 Samuel 14:24-30)

  • Jonathan led his men in victory over the Philistines (v. 14) – after this, the Lord helped Saul defeat the Philistines in battle (v. 23); rather than rejoicing in the Lord for the victory, Saul sought personal vengeance (v. 24); forbid his men from enjoying God’s blessings (v. 27-30)
  • Wrong to condemn the enjoyment of God’s blessings (1 Timothy 4:1-3)
  • Obviously, blessings can be used wrongly (1 Timothy 4:4; 5:23; 3:3, 8) – that is not what this is about
  • Must not make rules that God did not make (Matthew 15:1-9)
  • Must not put ourselves ahead of others (Philippians 2:3-4)

Did Not Complete His Mission Against Amalek (1 Samuel 15:1-9)

  • Saul was told to completely destroy Amalek (v. 1-3) – but he spared some (v. 8-9); Saul told Samuel he obeyed (v. 13), even after Samuel said he did not (v. 19-20); tried to pass the blame off onto the people (v. 21); also tried to justify his actions by saying they were going to sacrifice to the Lord (v. 21)
  • God expects complete obedience (Matthew 28:20; Colossians 3:17)
  • Must not partially obey God (James 2:10)
  • Must not make excuses for our sin (John 15:22)
  • Must not think that sacrifices are a substitute for obedience (1 John 2:1; Romans 6:1-2)

Did Not Go Out to Fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1-11)

  • When the Israelites and Philistines gathered on opposite sides of the battle field, Goliath challenged them to a one-on-one, winner-take-all fight (v. 8-9) – Israel want a king for the purpose of fighting for them (1 Samuel 8:19-20); yet Saul was afraid to fight as the others (v. 11); David had to take up the challenge (v. 32)
  • We must carry out our role (1 Peter 4:10-11)
  • Earlier, Saul went beyond his role in offering sacrifices (1 Samuel 13:8-9) – now he wouldn’t fulfill his role
  • We all have different roles to play in the church (1 Corinthians 12:14-18, 27-31) – must serve in that capacity

Was Jealous of David’s Success (1 Samuel 18:5-9)

  • David’s success in battle led Saul to promote him (v. 5) – yet he became jealous when David received higher praise then him (v. 6-8); led him to be suspicious of David (v. 9), then try to kill him (v. 10-11)
  • We should be united and not competing with one another (Philippians 1:27)
  • Our primary purpose must be advancing the Lord’s cause (1 Peter 4:11; John 17:20-21)
  • Jealousy and selfish ambition lead to disorder and sin (James 3:16) – hinders the Lord’s work

Killed the Priests and Inhabitants of Nob Over His Suspicions (1 Samuel 22:11-19)

  • Saul was told that David went to Ahimelech (v. 9-10) – he drew assumptions from there; accused Ahimelech of conspiring with David against him (v. 13); Ahimelech declared his innocence (v. 15), but Saul had already made up his mind that he was guilty (v. 16); killed him and all who lived in the city (v. 18-19)
  • We must not judge based upon assumptions and suspicions (John 7:24)
  • Speaking of others without knowledge can destroy them (Proverbs 11:9) – this is the opposite of the attitude that we should have, love (1 Corinthians 8:1)
  • We ought to assume the best of others (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Sought the Counsel of a Medium (1 Samuel 28:4-19)

  • When the Philistines gathered, Saul sought the Lord’s counsel, but He would not answer (v. 4-6); so he consulted a medium (v. 7) – this was a violation of the law (Leviticus 19:31; 20:27); however, God’s refusal to answer him directly was not an excuse to violate the law
  • We need to follow the Lord’s guidance (Matthew 28:20; John 14:6) – His way is found in His word (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • His word contains all truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17) – no use trying to find it anywhere else
  • God will not answer us directly today (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) – therefore, we must follow the principles and teachings already revealed in His word (2 Peter 1:3)