Summary: 3rd in a series on King Saul, "Portrait of a Politician" -- looking at Saul’s failed leadership.

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Trinity Baptist Church July 13, 2008

Portrait of a Politician

The Lyin’ King

1 Samuel 15:1-34

Norman Schwarzkopf called leadership a potent combination of strategy and character. But, then he said -- if you have to be without one, be without strategy.

It would seem that far too many leaders in our generation prefer to abandon character. A few of you are old enough to remember and American president in the ‘70’s resigning in scandal and disgrace. Another in the 90’s was mired in immorality and dishonesty. The recent business climate has given us CEO’s and corporate leaders so hungry for power and money, they’ll gladly rip off both investors and employees.

The sad thing is -- we’re not shocked anymore if even a pastor or priest commits the vilest of things. You don’t have to look very fare to find a raunchy leader.

It’s not a new phenomenon. Ever since people were given or have taken responsibility and power, their fundamental character – whether good or evil -- has surfaced. As believers, the issue of a leader’s character always comes down to the question of “where is God” in the person’s life? When a leader follows God, it makes all the difference in the world. When that is not the case -- that leader’s story is not going to end well.

We’re studying one of those tragedies. We started three weeks ago studying Saul -- an OT leader who demonstrates classic leadership failure. Saul was Israel’s first king. I’ve called his account a “portrait of a politician” – for several reasons. For one, this was a man who cared more about his image than his character. He’s was more “fluff than stuff.” When his core showed through – like when he was stressed or angry – the picture was not a pretty one….

Saul cared more about what people thought, than what God thought. He was self-absorbed and therefore a jealous leader – and those traits made him cling to power like a drowning person clinging to a life preserver.

You remember how it all began. In 1 Samuel 8, God’s people realized their aging prophet Samuel wouldn’t be around much longer. So they came to him -- and demanded he change their government and appoint a king for them – something Israel had never had, because the Lord God was their King. Their motive for that request was mentioned twice in chapter 8. They wanted to be like all the other nations. To Samuel’s amazement, God told him to grant their request. The man Samuel anointed was Saul.

Saul would likely have been a popular candidate in a political climate like ours. He was a big man -- head and shoulders over every other. He stood out – and he wasn’t afraid to take action. At the beginning, he seemed to be modest. All that fit the scriptural principle we can read just a bit further on in 1 Samuel: it says, man looks on the outward appearance.

Things haven’t changed much in our TV/YouTube generation – outward appearance very often seals the deal. And from all appearances everything looked good – it looked like Israel got the very best choice. But like we saw the first week of our study, God was only giving them what they asked for – but Saul was not the leader they needed. And that was the beginning of his tragic reign.

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