1 Samuel 13-14 Character

Today we are going to see Saul go from a good leader to a horrible one. Jim Collins wrote a book called good to great and it seems that Saul does the complete opposite of everything he says to do.  Success does not destroy you it  reveals who you are and the character flaws that Saul had before he began to be King over Israel will begin to show.

Character is the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves: someone’s personality (Meriam Webster Dictionary)

This is important because if you want to change your actions you have to change your thinking which will also change your feelings. Any leader can fake it for a while but eventually who they are will be revealed through their failures and even their successes in life.

Character is who you are when no one is looking and we will see today who Saul really is.

Summarize 1 Samuel 13:1-4

Although there was more men who wanted to fight with Saul he sent most of them home. He kept 2000 men for himself and gave his son Jonathan 1,000 men.  Jonathan had success in driving the Philistines back and recapturing some of the land they had lost in earlier campaigns. Some were sacred ground for Israel and it shows the leadership of Jonathan to do so much with such few resources.

After Saul realized that the Philistines were launching an attack he called the men back up that he already sent back. He waited to reassemble instead of being prepared ahead of time for the possibility of war. Leadership is about seeing potential problems ahead of time and Saul’s lack of leadership showed that he did not understand that you enemy is always a threat to you so you need to constantly be prepared.

Read 1 Samuel 13:5-10

When the Philistines gathered to fight they assembled a mighty force that the sight of them alone caused great fear among the Israelites. Some went and hid in caves, some went to other lands and some went to where Saul was. Saul’s character was going to be revealed for who he really was because when circumstances get tough what comes out of you is who you really are.

Your Character shows:

1)   … When you have to be patient

Saul knew that he was going to lose everything he had so far if he did not do something but doing something and doing the wrong thing is never good. Saul was where he previously met Samuel (1 Samuel 10:8) for Samuel to offer sacrifices to God on behalf of the nation. Saul, apparently, was to wait for Samuel there but instead he grew tired of waiting and went ahead and offered a sacrifice. Numbers 18:7 set the precedent that only the priest should make the sacrifices to the Lord so this act by Saul was the right action done the wrong way. Saul in his impatient attempt to calm the people actually made things worse.

Waiting on God is one of the most difficult times in your life especially when it looks as though everything is falling apart. Saul was watching the Philistines army building stronger, his people leaving and Samuel was no where to be found.

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord

It takes more heart to wait on God than it does to act. Waiting for God to do the things behind the scenes shows that you trust Him even when it looks like the rest of your world is falling apart.

Read 1 Samuel 13:11-12

Your character shows:

2)   … When you blame others for your problems

King Saul does not waste any time blaming Samuel for being late, the people for scattering and the situation being dire. (Victim mentality) Leadership is about seeing the problems and then moving forward not about who is to blame. A leader who spends more time blaming others and making excuses is not a leader even though they may have the leadership title.

Saul even says that he forced himself to make the sacrificial offering  which meant he had to go against the fact that he knew it was wrong. Saul was using the religious practice of sacrifices as a way to gain Gods favor.

Our society loves to blame others for how they act. It is always someone else’s fault for why we act a certain way. There is a character flaw in you if you think that you cannot change your behavior because of what has been done to you. Character is how you think, how you feel and how you  behave. If you want to change how you act you have to change how you think. When you change how you think it will change how you act and eventually change how you feel.

John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 We are set free when we follow the commands of Christ. It says a lot about us when we trust Him in situations that seem to be a no win situation in our lives.

Read  1 Samuel 13:13-18

Samuel now tells Saul that he has forfeited his right to rule and that God would have established his dynasty but his disobedience has cost him his leadership position. There are conditions to receiving the blessings of God. It does not mean there is not grace and it does not mean that that you are not forgiven, but when you habitually sin it will destroy your life. (Romans 6:23)  God does not call something sin so that we do not enjoy life. He calls things sin because He can see the final result of that sin and what it does to His creation.

King Solomon would fall into the same trap as Saul not learning from those who have gone before him.

1 Kings 11:11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.

We need to be careful with how we treat the blessings of God because when we think we can act however we wish then we may find that God removes them from us and gives them to someone else.

Saul gets the men together and now they only number 600 because many of them saw the Philistines and ran out of fear.  The philistines are only 2 miles away and begin to send raiding parties out and begin to control key roads and resources.

Read 1 Samuel 13:19-23

If you want to control people you just need to control the weapons or the weapon making abilities.  The Philistines because of years of success controlled the metals to make weapons. After they controlled the materials to make the weapons they took it one step further by making sure that there was no black smith to help with making other items into weapons.

Only Saul and Jonathan had swords and the rest of the army  had clubs, rocks and slings. Think of how selfish this was on his part because he took care of himself but not others around him.  Saul’s lack of leadership shows because that is one of the first things he should have addressed. Lack of military supplies is not something that could have been fixed quickly and to wait until this time, when the army is ready to invade, was very foolish. So you can see why they men before panicked when they saw the military might of the philistines and the weaponry that the Philistines had compared to the weapons they had.  The Israelites were not ready for such a battle.

Your character shows:

3)   …When you have to trust God for the victory

Read 1 Samuel 14:1-15

Jonathan shows us the opposite of his father in that his character was shown in his trust in God. Jonathan had faith that if God so chooses they can gain victory with just the two of them. Again, what Jonathan believed (how he thought) determined how he acted. It was not based off of feelings but off of truth.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.

Jonathan took a step of  faith to see if this was from God or not and trusted that God would show him what he should do.  He had to follow his heart based on the truth that God can provide, but at the same time he laid out a specific plan saying: If they said come on up then he knew God was with them if they said we are coming to you then they would wait.

The Philistines taunted Jonathan and said they were like animals coming out of holes. The Philistines told them to come up so they could kill them. This was the sign that Jonathan was looking for and with the truth that God was on his side and that God had revealed what he should do, Jonathan moved forward just him and his shield bearer.  God acted and Jonathan and his Shield bearer started defeating the Philistines and it sent a panic throughout the camp. We cannot pass up on the fact that Jonathan still had to climb a wall of rocks by faith as well as begin to fight. There are actions that sometimes God tells us to take unless He specifically tells us to be still and wait on Him. (Exodus 14:13-14)

The fear that came upon the camp after Jonathan began killing some of the Philistines and the earthquake God sent, caused them to turn on themselves. Some believe that there were Israelites who deserted Saul who now were in the military of the Philistines and they also turned on the Philistine army. So chaos was everywhere and people did not know who was a friend or a foe.

God used Jonathan and his shield bearer to change a nation. We must never underestimate what we can do in the midst of poor leadership. Many times we complain about our leaders and the poor decisions they are making when God may be calling us to move forward by faith regardless of the actions, or lack of actions, they are taking.

Jonathan had one sword, one friend and God. Sometimes God is just looking for those who are willing to take steps of faith.  Fearless faith is what we need sometimes knowing no matter what the odds God will come through.

Read 1 Samuel 14: 16-52

After Saul saw that someone acted in courage he sent men to go and help and begin the process of wiping out the Philistines. We will see later that this is a typical stance by Saul as it took David to defeat Goliath.

Once again we see the philistine army was trying to reassemble and instead of waiting for the priest to finish his duties Saul made him stop  so they could go into battle sooner. Saul then makes a hasty vow that no one should eat until they have finished defeating the Philistines. Poor leadership says words without thinking through the consequences of what they are saying.

Your character shows:

4)   … With how you treat others

Saul was more concerned about the pursuit of the Philistines than he was about his own people eating. The bible says that he calls them “My Enemies” and not the Lords Enemies. This was no longer about serving God but about his personal pride.  Maybe because Jonathan showed more courage than him (you see this later with David and how he hated David for getting the glory 1 Samuel 18) he felt he needed to show some bravado in order to not be outdone by his own son.

Saul made a crazy vow telling the army  they cannot eat until the job of wiping out the Philistine army was accomplished.  This did two things. It made his men weak from hunger and it also put Jonathan in danger of his life because he did not know the vow and ate some of the honey. Jonathan was already fighting the Philistines when his dad made that vow and was not made aware of it.

The Bible says the honey was oozing out of the ground which could have been that the honey combs were located on the ground and were trampled on as the Philistines were fleeing.  Jonathan commented that Saul has made trouble for Israel and that the victory will not be as great as it could be (vs30) because of his vow  that no one should eat.

Some leaders are so focused on success that they destroy the very people that are getting them there. Despite Saul’s actions the Israelites chased the Philistines 15 miles but they still did not finish them off because of Saul’s poor leadership.

When the vow of Saul ended at night the people began eating the spoils of war but they did so against the commands of God. The people were not supposed to eat animals with the blood still in them but because of Saul’ command not to eat the people had become so hungry that they ate the food in an improper way.

Saul was ready to keep attacking after the men had eaten but a priest told him that they should seek the Lord first. It was in the process of waiting that Jonathan was found out and was going to be executed by his own father. Jonathan, his son, who just did a brave act to bring victory to an army they should have never been able to defeat, who did not hear the decree because he was fighting was still going to be executed by Saul ,his father, because of Saul’s pride. It was Saul’s soldiers that saved Jonathan by saying that the Lord is the only one who should declare a life.

Saul let the rest of the philistines get away as he called off the rest of the pursuit. The chapter ends with Saul fighting  many more battles against many different enemies.


How you act shows who you really are not what you say your are. We all have character flaws that we need to work on because some of us are impatient, some of us blame others for our circumstances and some of us with how we use others for our personal gain.

God is calling us to be people of character and the only way we can become that is to change our thinking. To change your thinking you have to be in Gods word.God will put us in circumstances to develop the character He wants in us and it is important that we walk through those things knowing He is working (See Romans 5:1-4)

What one area is God working on in your life? No one wants to be a Saul but the reality is we sometimes act more like him than we think.

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