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  • Writer's pictureLES HENSON

The Failure of Earthly Leaders

In 1 Samuel 13, Saul started well, but soon he began to diverge from the purposes he had been made king. Although he had previously been motivated to action by the Spirit of the Lord (11:6), he resorted to propaganda and took credit for Jonathan's initiative (3). In seeking the centre stage, he became proud and usurped the place that belonged to God alone. In the process, he brought on Israel the animosity of the Philistines (4), provoking a battle for which Israel was ill-prepared. Because he had acted without waiting for God's advice

Saul endeavoured to rally his troops by usurping Samuel's priestly role and offering up a burnt offering himself (8-9). On arrival, Samuel was furious at what Saul had done. Saul's foolish act had lost the Lord's favour (11-12). Therefore, his kingdom would pass to someone else, who was a man after God's own heart (13-15). Saul's kingship went in severe decline from that point on, resulting in his death and the end of his dynasty in chapter 31.

The story of Israel's search for a king is familiar in every generation, including ours. The search for a leader to follow is always tricky. The trouble is that almost all political leadership ends in failure. Israel has a new start with David, a man after God's own heart, only to find that David's reign would end in tears. Throughout the history of Israel's kingship, the prophets seek to hold Israel to account, always pointing beyond them to a future king and kingdom – King Jesus, the servant king. He alone will bring peace, stability and renewal at the coming of the kingdom and reign of God.

In appointing political leaders, we must seek to select those who will work hard and seek the common good, rather than that which only benefits their own party. Thus, we are responsible for holding them accountable while recognizing that it is only with the coming of the kingdom and reign of God that justice and righteousness will arise in all its fulness.



Grant us wisdom in wisely choosing our leaders and holding them accountable.

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