Aug 12, 2020, 12:30 PM
“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live in your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart, and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbour no wrong, ... honours those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts.” (Psalm 15:1-4)
A good many of our leaders fail to see that, or behave as if, God does not have a hand in elevating them to the positions of responsibility that they hold in their various communities, societies or as presidents of nations. All through Scripture however, God’s responsibility was made manifest in the selection of kings. In fact, He assigned prophets the task of anointing kings – commencing with King Saul, King David and King Solomon. As a result kings in those days performed a divine function as God’s representatives. They communicated with God and executed His instructions.
After the Children of Israel had traversed the wilderness and had settled in the Promised Land, they yearned for a king “... such as all the other nations have.” (1Samuel 8:5). It was evident therefore that they had not realised all along that God was their king. This request met with Prophet Samuel’s displeasure, but God ordered him to “Listen to them and give them a king.” (1 Samuel 8:22)
God instructed Prophet Samuel thusly: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you: it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.” (1 Samuel 8:7-9) The people of Israel identified their king and God endorsed it when it should have been the other way round.
After some years in office, King Saul became pompous and arrogant. He openly flouted God’s instructions given to him through Prophet Samuel. They fixed a meeting at which Prophet Samuel would officiate over ‘the burnt offering and the fellowship offering’ before King Saul could go to war. Just a slight delay on the Prophet’s part and King Saul became so anxious and performed the sacrifice as if he was the priest. Arriving a few minutes after this, the prophet rebuked him: “You acted foolishly. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, He would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of His people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14)
King Saul acted foolishly on a number of occasions prompted by his own inclinations and temperament rather than sticking to God’s instructions channelled through Prophet Samuel. What’s worst, he did so for political reasons -- putting the people first rather than executing the instructions given to him by God. Prophet Samuel gave him specific instructions from God. “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” (1 Samuel 15:3) This was the punishment to be meted to the Amalekites for waylaying the Children of Israel as they came up from Egypt.
Unfortunately, the king carried out the instructions partially, and not to the letter. He saved King Agag, and spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord God. King Saul lied about two things: when asked whether he had completed the assignment as instructed he answered in the positive. When Prophet Samuel pressed further with charges of disobedience, he laid it on his men for wanting to keep the booty in order to make a sacrifice to God with.
Prophet Samuel again rebuked him: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1Samuel 15:22-23) As leaders who did not vote themselves into office or appointed themselves to leadership positions, we must always fall back on God’s mission for we are mere instruments through which God’s purpose will be fulfilled here on earth.
King Saul was interested in the booty so he disregarded the words of the Prophet. King Saul as head of state to whom clear instructions were given should have come up with a more convincing response rather than to say it was the soldiers that brought back the animals. The instructions were given to him as king not to the soldiers. It was his responsibility to relay it to his military officers as marching orders. The blame therefore fell squarely on his shoulders as king.
We see a pattern here with Adam to whom direct instructions were given by God not to eat of the fruit in the middle of the garden. When finally Eve succumbed to the serpent’s temptation to eat of the fruit, it was Adam who carried the blame. Why? because the instructions were relayed to Eve by Adam. Besides, at the time she was committing the act of disobedience Adam was standing by and said nothing; in fact he even partook of it. After eating the fruit Eve “also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6)
The yardstick for measuring righteousness is total obedience. Come to think of it, as instruments in the hands of God we should not think of our roles other than obedient servants. In every way, it is not about our opinions but how we obediently carry out God’s plans.
Whatever the position we hold, we must first find out from God what we are called to do. God will tell us directly if we are sensitive to His voice or He will convey it through a third party. The mistake we often make as leaders is that we depend on our intelligence to operate. Wrong move! God expects us to listen to Him. Remember He is All-Knowing and He has not abnegated His role and position as the Supreme Being over men’s affairs. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has not changed.
It is every leader’s responsibility whether from the home front, community, society or state to wait upon and hear from God in order to faithfully execute His plan for His people. It is the only way we will qualify for the accolade: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!” As servants, we have a task to fulfil for the benefit of others and not to put ourselves first.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 16:12).