1 Samuel is an amazing picture of how Godliness affects leadership. Take for example the contrast between King Saul and King David.
- Rationalization for Sin – In Samuel 13, Saul is facing defeat from the Philistines, so he asked for the priest Samuel to come onto the field to offer a sacrifice to God. But he wasn’t patient, so he offered the sacrifice himself which was unbiblical and disobedient. When Samuel confronted him about it, Saul lied. When he was caught in the lie, he then blamed the people. At that point, Samuel tells Saul that his kingdom will be given to another.
- Endangers the People He Leads – Later on in a battle with the Philistines (1 Samuel 14), Saul foolishly declares that any of his solders who eat before the victory is won will be put to death. His son, Jonathan, doesn’t know about this vow. Jonathan eats, feels better, battles the Philistines and wins. Saul foolishly declares that Jonathan must die, but the people ransom Jonathan so he isn’t executed.
- Selfish – Saul is then commanded to go and strike the Amalekites down. God commands him not to leave any single thing alive and to devote everything to destruction. Saul instead takes their best livestock and keeps the King of the Amalekites alive (1 Samuel 15).
- Ignores God’s Honor – When Goliath threatened the Israelite army (1 Samuel 17), Saul didn’t lead them into battle and didn’t inspire anyone enough to fight for him and the people of God.
Now we know that David is not perfect. He lied and deceived the priest when he was hungry. As a result, David sinned, a mass of priests died, and an entire city was wiped out (1 Samuel 21-22). But here is the difference between David and Saul.
- Ownership of Sin – Unlike Saul who lied when confronted with his sin, David admits his sin. He shows what true sorrow and repentance looks like. The next time David is put in a stressful place, he asks God for wisdom about what to do, not one, not two, but three times (1 Samuel 21-22).
- Protects the People He Leads – Whereas Saul threatened his men with death to motivate them, David leads a group of debt-dodging soldiers into battle, and when they express their concern and weariness, David takes their concern to God in prayer (1 Samuel 23).
- Selfless – When Saul disobeyed and withheld the best for himself against the Amalekites, when David fought for Israel, he obeyed completely and God gave them the victory (1 Samuel 18).
- Defends God’s Honor – And when Saul wouldn’t fight for Israel against Goliath, David boldly defended the honor of God (1 Samuel 17).
Godliness isn’t required to be a good leader as evidenced from the many amazing leaders in our world, but if someone has faith in Jesus, their Godliness directly affects their leadership. Humility, faith, and boldness will either bolster one’s leadership or the lack of those things will hinder it.
May we pray for humility, faith, and boldness today as we are called to some measure of leadership. David shows us that we don’t have to be perfect; we just need to be greatly dependent on the grace of Jesus.
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