1 Samuel 15:24
“Saul gave in and confessed…“I’ve sinned. I’ve trampled roughshod over God’s Word and your instructions. I cared more about pleasing the people. I let them tell me what to do.”
People are very influential beings, and often very selfish. They think about what they want, when they want it, and they use people in order to get it. Words can be as sharp as a double edge sword or as smooth as butter, leading people to their downfall. God placed kings to be examples of good leaders, designed to bring peace and prosperity their domain, if they sought after what the Lord would have them to do, and stayed in that will. He also placed certain kings to be examples of discipline and downfall, to show what would happen to the people if they strayed from him, to let them know how helpless and purely mortal they were. Riches and stone towers cannot protect people from everything. Even kings were ruined, sometimes inside their lavish homes. Some kings were evil and caused the people pain, but the people brought it upon themselves because they wanted a king, and were not content with God’s power and leading alone. Saul was the first king, made king because of this desire of the people.
This verse was written after he had blown his last chance at being a God-fearing king. He has heard the news that he is to be replaced, and that the Spirit of God would no longer dwell in him. God was tired of having the being in which he dwelled, consistently pursuing the wrong things. So, God said, “Enough”. It was that “last straw” that got my attention. It was his confession that got me thinking. His last chance at proving himself a godly king ended because he tried too hard to please people, and not hard enough to please God. Many times, the downfall of a leader is another person, or in this case more than one person. When we try to please them, instead of pleasing God, it creates problems. Our focus comes off of what God’s will is for something and onto what will make the most people happy. Often times, the things God calls us to do don’t make very many people happy, but that is where it becomes important to choose him over popular opinion.
I’m a people pleaser. I love people. I want them to like me. If they don’t, I think there is something wrong with me personally. I don’t stop to think that maybe they are the ones who need to do something different, instead, I try to change myself. Now, that doesn’t mean I go off and become someone I’m not, but I take their opinion of me personally, when their opinions aren’t personal to me at all. It’s hard to be task oriented when you focus too much on the people involved. It’s hard to be people oriented when you focus too much on the task at hand. There has to be a balance. Because if there is no balance, either nothing gets done or people get their feelings hurt, and sometimes, some of both. Saul in this verse, not only paid too much attention to pleasing a crowd, but he got so caught up in pleasing the crowd, that he went in the wrong direction completely. God was angry because he specifically asked Saul to do an important task and Saul said “no”. So God said “no” to his being king any longer. Leaders are entrusted with an important task, and straying from that task in order to please others is just as bad as saying “no” to the face of a holy God. There is no respect, no fear, where there rightfully should be, and God’s command isn’t something we need to rebel against like an immature teenager. At the very end of the chapter, 1 Samuel 15: 35, reads “…God was sorry he ever made Saul king in the first place.” I would hate to have God be sorry that he ever entrusted me with a task as great as the one he has given me.
We are not defined by what people think of us, we are defined, and always should be defined, by what God thinks of us, because his opinion matters so much more than any other person on this planet. “Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10. We are not here to please ourselves or to please others, but solely for the glorification of our God and one true King. Leading well requires us to forget about pleasing people, and instead make it our aim to please God in everything we do.