Where Did Saul Go Wrong?

The Bible

The theme this year at the Florida College Lectures is Lessons From the Kings of Israel and Judah. 

Yesterday I heard Luke Chandler present a very practical lesson on King Saul that not only depicted Saul’s sins, but warned and reminded us not to make the same mistakes. 

Luke pointed out that Saul “began well but undid himself through ungodly choices.  He was unpretentious and humble in the beginning, resisting the role of a ruler, yet later came to obsess over his power.  He went from being a forgiving, unifying every man, to a paranoid, murderous despot who slaughtered God’s priests and their families.”

Luke then asked the question we all wonder  “What went wrong with Saul?  What led to his spiritual and personal digression?  How did a modest man become such a blatant villain?” 

The obvious answers are witnessed in two specific accounts.  (1) His usurping of Samuel’s role in offering the sacrifice prior to going to battle with the Philistines (1 Sam 13:1-13); (2) His blatant disobedience in not utterly destroying the Amalekities.  (1 Sam 15:1-30). In each case Saul tried to justify his actions.  And each time the prophet Samuel told Saul he had disobeyed God’s command. 

But Saul’s disobedience was only the symptom of a deeper spiritual problem.  Luke expressed it this way.  “He had never trained himself to act by faith.  His decision-making came down to what he could quantify.  He made decisions based on what he could see, such as numbers, resources, and morale.  Saul never seems to have appreciated the Lord’s role in events.” 

In making application to our lives in the 21st century Luke asked, “What do we learn from Saul?”  He pointed out 5 things I want to share with our readers.  

(1) “He failed to illuminate anything higher, holier, or wiser than the world offers.

Saul seem more concerned about keeping His army happy than pleasing God.   He was afraid of not being honored by the people.  He was inordinately concerned about the praise of others.

Saul teaches us to let our light shine.  To show others the will of God in our lives.  To place our faith, trust and very lives in serving God.  Following God.  Obeying God. 

(2) “Saul failed to ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.’”

Nothing is ever said about Saul having a personal relationship with God” It is apparent that Saul did not develop an intimacy with God as did Abraham, Moses, or David, who succeeded him as King.

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

(3) “Saul failed to grow stronger as he grew older.”

Somewhere along the way this humble man who hid among the baggage, became filled with pride.   He vacillated between self-depreciation and self-glorification.  He became angry. Jealous.  And suspicious.   He doubted the loyalty of those closest to him and drove them away.

There are too many Christians who find themselves in the same situation as SaulThey have grown older, but not more spiritually mature.  We need to be reminded that our choices in our youth can and will impact us in later years.  If we are not careful, as we grow older our hearts can harden, our conscience can become calloused, and our senses can become dulled to sin.  

(4) “Saul failed to learn the right lessons from his mistakes.” 

Instead of learning from his errors, Saul became bitter instead of better.  He ignored godly counsel.  He became foolhardy.  Rash.  Irresponsible.  Unreliable.  And unstable.

We all make mistakes, but unlike Saul, the challenge is to learn from them. Profit from the lessons.  And resolve not to repeat them.  

(5) Saul failed to understand the real course of his problems.”

Saul was an insecure man.  He blamed others from his problems.  The people. David.  Even his son Jonathan.   

God calls for us to be open.  Honest. And accountable.  Let’s learn to take responsibility for our attitudes.  Actions.  And decisions.  That requires courage. Humility.  And the willingness to examine our own hearts. 

The saga of Saul reminds us that we can only learn from the great men of faith, but from those negative examples that teach us powerful lessons and remind us of the pitfalls of life.

May we train our minds and hearts to “walk by faith and not by sight.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Where Did Saul Go Wrong?

  1. Craig Thomas

    Wonderful lesson! A lesson all Christians need to hear! Thank you!

  2. Larry Ray Hafley

    While none of us, perhaps, can identify with Saul’s worldly success, I know that I can profit from the lessons gained by his personal choices and failures. So, thanks for these insights from you, Ken, and from brother Chandler.

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