1 Samuel 15: Saul's Rebellion and Rejection as King

An individual, a family, a local church congregation, and a nation can lose their calling and and forfeit their destiny if they rebel against the Lord long enough and consistently enough. 1 samuel 15 is an example of God withdrawing his calling on a man’s life, and the impact God's judgment has on the nation. It is one thing for a nation to sin, but it is another matter for the church to sin against their nation by ceasing to pray and believe God for their nation. The United States and South Africa are both in great danger, not mostly from of crime and corruption or moral decay in society, but from Christians who run in fear or speak in criticism against their nation and it’s leaders.

Notice the progression in Saul's great failure and removal as the king of israel:

15:1-3 - detailed obedience is required of Saul in a very tough assignment of discipline and standing against evil.

15:4-9 - partial obedience is disobedience in God’s eyes; Saul saved the best for himself

15:12 - Saul erects a monument to himself. Disobedience leads to deception and self-exultation.

15:11 - Saul is rejected by God to be king

15:12 - Saul lies to Samuel about his sin

15:15 - Saul blames the people for his lack of courage of conviction

15:17 - Samuel acknowledges that one of the problems is that Saul suffers from inferiority and insecurity, “though you are little in your own eyes...” but he is still responsible: “were you not head of the tribes of Israel?”

15:20-21 - Saul again blames his followers for his fear and disobedience

15:24 - Saul acknowledges the root of his sin was the fear of the people and that he obeyed their voice, not God's voice.

15:26-28 - Samuel declares that on that day, Saul has lost his kingdom, and God is now judging him for his sin.

15:33 - Samuel slays the king that Saul was to have killed

15:34-35 - Samuel never saw Saul again to the day of his death.

15:35 - The Lord was sorry that he made Saul king.

With sadness, I can clearly remember when the Lord removed me from leadership. I was a young man, barely 29 years old, when God spoke to me in a time of turmoil and division in our community, and said because of my impatience and harshness toward people, he was removing me from leadership. My period of service to the Lord was ended, there and then.
For three hours I wept before the Lord, knowing my heart was more like Saul's than like God's heart. I felt God's displeasure, that he was sorry he had made me a leader over the people I was serving. I was impulsive, defensive, angry, and demanding of people. God was displeased with me. With this revelation, I repented deeply, I asked God to forgive me, and while I was in that place of brokenness, after three hours of repenting, the Lord said to quietly to me, "Now, I will restore you". It was a turning point for me. I experienced the sober reality that God is serious about obedience and about serving His people with the right heart.

The Saul Syndrome

Can a leader or nation lose their calling and destiny? 
There is more than one example in Scriptures of this happening. King Saul in the Old Testament is but one example. Saul suffering from a pattern of inner brokenness and outer rebellion that caused him to lose his kingship. He suffered from what I call the "Saul Syndrome". He is how it works, a vicious cycle of in security and rebellion: It starts with a lack  of identity, which leads to deep inferiority, which produces cycles of crippling insecurity, which results in rash acts of impulsiveness, which deepens into independence and rebellion = the Saul Syndrome cycle, one inner issue leading to another, and to another.

1 Sam 9:2, 10:23 - There were two polar extremes in Saul, the flesh and the spirit battled for control in his life; Saul lost the inner battle but won the leadership prize through outer appearance and stature; he was tall and good looking, he possessed charisma of personality, but inside he was insecure and lacked identity of who he was as a man of God.

There are seven consequences of the Saul Syndrome: 

Contagious lack of courage - Both courage and cowardice are like a virus; the people catch what the leader carries in his or her heart. Saul would not fight Goliath, but David did - 2 Sam 23 - David inspired the armies of Israel to fight, but Saul inspired them to inaction and fear. Where a  leader with courage leads, people follow.

Fearing what the people think, leading to acts of religious piety to impress people. Without courage it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are. See 1 Samuel 15. Saul offered burnt offerings to the Lord, but it was an act of disobedience and cowardice - he tried to impress the people, not obedience to the Lord. The sacrifice the Lord requires is a sincere heart and a broken spirit.

Running from opportunity. Godly courage empowers you to do what you are afraid of doing in the natural - Saul hid among the baggage when it was time to time to come forward to be anointed king - 1 sam 10:22

Jealousy of others. But where there is courage, we break free of the slavery of insecurity and possessiveness. Saul was jealous of David because of lack of inner courage and confidence in who God had called him to be.

Indecisive. When leaders have courage the people will have commitment.  There are some decisions leaders make without hearing God tell them to do it, it is simply the courageous thing to do. Those kind of decisions are the result of inner core values birthed in a person through testing and trial, and staying close to God.

Fear of letting go of the past to embrace change and a new future. A leader with courage will let go of the familiar to face a new future.

Disloyalty in relationships. The Saul Syndrome produces unreliable leaders.