Monthly Archives: May 2013

An ancient failed leadership story from the bible

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Let me re-tell a story that happened about three thousand years ago. The Israelites at that time occupied present-day Israel or a little more of the land and they had a king named Saul. Saul was the very first ‘king’ of Israelites. They have always trusted in a certain theocracy up until that time, meaning that a religious leader would be their material leader as well. Saul was a tall and handsome young man when he was made king by the religious leader at that time, Samuel.

Saul was invested with kingship with a certain mandate. Israel was surrounded by enemies all around who were far more advanced in military weaponry than themselves. For instance, the Philistines had thousands of chariots and numerous swords and shields and iron implements. Israelites, by contrast, had only a couple of swords, which belonged to Saul and his son! It is hard to believe, but that is how it seems to have happened. Samuel made the mandate that Saul should defend Israel from its enemies. That would have been the condition of appointment as king. The benefits of being a king, of course, were as numerous and far fetched as can be. King is above the rule and all the subjects and all the property are available to him to use or misuse as he pleased, and there would be no question about it. Obviously under such inordinate powers, all kings would cavort like crazy and amass wealth. Any dissenting voice would be silenced by execution!

However, King Saul doesn’t seem to have gone through these predictors of kingship. Worse still, he didn’t defend his country against the enemies at the crucial moments. He would wait when action was needed and carry out animal sacrifices for days and days on end when enemies were attacking them.

A few years down the road a bizarre incident occurs. I will quote the bible here.

Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?” Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord ’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.” (1 Samuel 13:10-12 NLT)

Philistines are ready to march and guess what Saul is doing! Little wonder Samuel immediately divests Saul of his royal position and starts looking for another leader, who eventually turns out to be David!

To quote:

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord ’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:13, 14 NLT)

This was the end of Saul’s leadership. He didn’t rise to the occasion and act. A leader should be proactive. Saul would have done well to have efficient weapons and chariots. A leader should lead the action from the front rather than hide or tarry like Saul did for days and days on end when the enemy was getting ready to march on them.