7 Lessons Learned From Saul’s Flaws

The BibleWe’ve been watching the History Channel’s presentation of The Bible from Executive Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.  The reaction has been interesting.

Movie critics called it “fractious and overwrought,” “a further piece of evidence that drama and reverence don’t mix well,” and “a mini-series full of emoting that does not register emotionally.”

Predictability the Christian Post and similar news outlets have hailed The Bible as “awesome,” inspiring, and “spot on.”

I’m somewhere in the middle.  I’m a visual person.  So, I like watching Bible films. Although they’ve missed some details, and added others not in the Bible, I’ve enjoyed watching it so far.

Last night’s portrayal of King Saul was striking.  God records both the great men and women who trusted in Him, as well as those who were flawed and failed to be faithful.  Saul is one of the latter.

Years ago I heard a leadership lesson by John Maxwell on Saul’s mistakes.  These seven points are based on that lesson.

Flaw #1: Saul made rash decisions and promises.   (1 Sam. 14:24; 24:16-22; 26:25)

         He made a decree that anyone who touched food before a certain time would be killed.  When it came time to enforce it, he did not.  He rashly offered the  sacrifice, not waiting for the prophet Samuel.  He made a bad decision by disobeying God in sparing Agag and the spoils of war.

Saul was foolhardy, reckless, and irresponsible.  Not good qualities for a person seeking the favor of God. 

Flaw #2: He Was Overly Influenced by Others’ Opinions. (I Sam. 13:8-9; 14:44-45; 25:24; 15:27,30

To keep His army happy, Saul usurped Samuel’s position. He reneged on his vows.  He disobeyed the direct command of God.  He was afraid of not  being honored by the people.

When we care more about people’s opinion of us than God’s favor, we are in trouble.

Flaw #3: He vacillated Between Self-Depreciation and Self-Glorification.

The Bible shows the severe swing in his moods and attitude.  At first he was aware of his humble origin, but later builds a moment to himself (1 Sam. 15:12). On one hand he doubted and seemed unsure of himself, at other times he was prideful and disdainful.

Both extremes are a recipe for spiritual failure.

Flaw #4:  He Often Showed Little or No Interest in the Things of God.

             Jefferson Scott said, “Saul is never said anything resembling a personal relationship with God”   As you read Samuel and as I watched The Bible, it is apparent that Saul did not show the close relationship to God as did Abraham, Moses or Joshua.

There is danger for Christians to confuse our knowledge of God with really knowing God. Growing close to God. Developing intimacy with God.

Flaw #5:  He Couldn’t Handle Anyone Receiving More Praise than He Did.

         Saul was a jealous man. Most notably in his attitude toward  David.  (I Sam. 18;7, 8) John Maxwell is fond of saying, “There is no success without a successor.”  King Saul clearly did not want to see David
as his successor.

It is often said that “The people’s capacity to achieve is determined by their leader’s ability to empower.”  Saul did not empower God’s chosen successor. It hurt Israel. David.  And Saul himself.  Don’t allow the sins of envy and jealousy to hurt your work in the Kingdom.

Flaw #6:  He Doubted the Loyalty of Those Closest to Him and Drove them Away.

         This is true of David, as well as his son Jonathan, and his daughter Michal.  Because Saul lived a life that didn’t justify their loyalty, he didn’t receive it.  Or deserve it.

“Travel the high road” is good advice in relationships.  Men and women seeking to influence others for God’s cause must be honest, open and loyal.

Flaw #7: He Failed To Show Courage When Challenged by His Enemies

The Bible showed two examples of Saul’s failure to demonstrate courage when his people needed it most.  First in his reluctance to trust God in fighting the Philistine giant, Goliath ((I Sam. 17:11).  Then at the end of his life during the Philistine war.(I Sam. 27:5)

What is Courage?  Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers,”  wrote Karl Barth.  Saul hadn’t said his prayers.

Leadership requires courage.  The core of Christianity is courage.  It takes courage to stand for truth.  Say “no” to sin.”  And not be conformed to the world.

The Bible provides for us both positive and negative examples. The thesis of The Bible is a well intended motto–“Trust in God!”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Bible, Discipleship

29 responses to “7 Lessons Learned From Saul’s Flaws

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  25. Very interesting indeed. In fact, Saul’s jealousy of David’s praise and little achievements should be a great lesson for us all. We must learn to celebrate other people in this world for their achievementa and not be overly jealoused.


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