As I was reading back through one of my journals tonight, I came across a comparison study I did between the leadership style of David vs the leadership style of Saul. What really interested me alot was that Saul was chosen by God to be Israel's first King. Up to this point they had not had a King at the head of their people...they had the prophets and the judges. But after complaining enough God gave them what they wanted, a king to rule them. He hand-picked Saul to be the first king, but somewhere in the middle something happened and he took his hand off of Saul and brought David to the front where he was called , "A man after God's own heart." So what happened to Saul?? And made him that much different from David?
Saul was doing great as King for awhile because he was following God's lead and Samuel's advising. But in 1 Sam 13, it talks about Saul becoming impatient and offering a burnt offering after a battle without waiting on Samuel to arrive and offer the burnt offering himself. Because he broke God's law and did not follow Samuel's instruction, God took his blessing and his hand off of Saul and put it onto David. The way Saul reacted to Samuel's rebuke is interesting too. Instead of humbly accepting the rebuke and asking for God's forgiveness and repenting, he tries to justify what he did and tries to explain himself (1 Sam 13: 11-13). That one act of disobedience took Saul out of the running for God to establish Saul's kingdom forever. Instead he was replaced. Saul again tries to justify his sin in 1 Sam 15:20-24. When Samuel confronts him, he offers us excuses instead of pleas for forgiveness.
So what made his reactions so different from David, claimed to be a "man after God's own heart"?
Take a look at just the reaction to sin: For Saul there was always justification and excuses. But reading about David and Bathsheba in 2 Sam 11, when the prophet Nathan came and confronted David about his sin, David IMMEDIATELY confessed his sin (2 Sam 12:13). He didn't try to justify his actions or make excuses or pass the blame on someone else, he was responsible for his own mess. Saul tried to make himself look better while he sinned by covering it up under the guise of doing something "good". He was offering a sacrifice, a good thing right?? Well, not when it is performed against the law of God and without his consent. How many times do we disobey God, but do it under the banner of "doing good" to justify ourselves and help us feel better about disobeying in the first place.
David continually focused on God's will, and God's plans, where as Saul focused more on his own plans and desires before God's. At one point in scripture in 1 Sam 15:11, God actually says "I am sorry I ever made Saul King, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command."
David was a man of forgiveness, Saul was full of bitterness and resentment. Saul became so jealous of David and God's blessings on him, that he tried to intentionally hurt him, kill him even. Even though David was his son's best friend! David on the other hand, never returned Saul's jealousy or hatred. David had two chances in the scriptures to actually kill Saul and he refused (2 Sam 24, and 2 Sam 26). Both of these passages show David as full of mercy, and full of love for a man who is trying to kill him!
It's really sad to read, but Saul had the potential to be one of, if not the greatest of God's chosen kings in all of the bible, but he threw it all away for his own wants and desires. It sounds so ridiculous when you hear it said like that, you think, "I would never do that!". But how many times do we?! How many times do we give us the blessings of God because we feel like we know what is best for us so instead of praying and waiting on God to answer us, we push forward in our own strength to do what WE feel like WE need to? Both Saul and David made mistakes, both of them sinned....but only one truly repented and truly begged for God to forgive him and immediately turned back to the Lord.....David. What a beautiful picture of potential and what happens when we allow God to have all of us and even when we mess it up, going back to him and letting him help us become better and wiser in him, vs potential totally wasted on ourselves. One of the ways the enemy likes to get to me is with my schedule. God has blessed me with alot of talents, but they are all "filthy rags" without him and when my schedule gets so crazy that I don't know which way is up, it's easy for me to forget who gave me that potential or that talent and I try to do it by myself. "Pray and then plan"....that's what he's trying to teach me....and that even when I fall: "Jesus loves me this I know..." he'll always be there to catch me.