Verses 2 - 4: Saul really starts his kingship out on a high note...oh wait, no he doesn't. He actually sets the tone for the rest of his reign of mediocrity. He splits his forces giving Jonathan 1,000 men and keeping 2,000 for himself. Jonathan then takes his 1,000 men and defeats a Philistine garrison at Geba. Saul in all his kingly wisdom then starts blowing his trumpet all over the place and telling everyone that HE has defeated the Philistines...not God...not his son Jonathan - the commander of the skirmish...but HE - HIMSELF - SAUL. From the outset of his rule we see the kind of king that Saul is going to be...he is completely and utterly focused on himself. He is arrogant, he is loud, he is selfish, he is foolish, he is rash...Saul is everything you don't want a leader to be. But he was just so gosh darn tall and god looking...they had to make him king! (Hopefully you understand that was dripping with sarcasm)
This chapter is a picture of the destruction that is wrought when leaders fail...
- (v.5) After Saul announces to the world that HE defeat the Philistines and is a scourge on their lives...they muster their entire army and the Israelites hide in any hole they can find. His arrogant lies draw the attention of the enemy and destroy the backbone of his army.
- (v.9ff) Saul ignores God's command to wait for Samuel to make a sacrifice before they go to war and offers the sacrifice himself (He's not a priest...this is a no-no), and it costs Saul a chance to be the root from which the Messiah would spring. That is a hefty price to pay for impatience. Saul could have been David...could have started the eternal Kingdom of which Jesus is the head - but he blew it!
What does the story of Saul have to do with us? Oh, just about everything! All of us are leaders in some form or fashion. Maybe you are a leader in your company...parents are leaders of their kids...we all have chances to lead by example with our peers - there are endless ways that you can influence and lead others. The question is - where are you leading them? Saul was forced into leadership because he was tall and handsome (Obviously the best leader qualities out there), but when he assumed power it went completely to his head. The Israelite kingship was supposed to work like this...1.) God is the actual "king" or ruler of Israel. 2.) God is in control. 3.) The human king that the Israelites wanted so desperately is really just a figurehead that is supposed to follow the directions of the Lord and lead people towards God. That is the way it was supposed to work, but Saul rejected that system. He rejected God's commands, tried to claim credit for all the victories and lay blame on others for any defeats. He failed as a king. He failed as a leader. Failed as God's appointed representative. If Jesus is the Lord of your life - He is the King...he reigns on the throne of your heart and you are his representative in this world. That means that as leaders, we should be following the commands of Jesus. That means that we should be leading and living from a place of humble service and not arrogant boasting. That means that we do not always try to get all the attention and accolades, because we know that our victories are really the victories of Christ. As men and women who follow Jesus Christ, we are called to go where he directs and lead people towards God. Follow in the footsteps of Jesus...not Saul.