King Saul’s fatal flaws are legendary. When you think of King Saul in the Bible, what comes to your mind? I think of words like ruthless, power-hungry, jealous, insecure, moody, oppressed, demonized, and murderous. He tried to impale a harp toting shepherd boy with a spear, for crying out loud.
Saul walks into the pages of history at a time when Israel desperately wanted a King (a monarchy) instead of a theocracy (God leading them). God reluctantly granted their request, and his first choice for a King, you may recall, was our boy Saul.
How did King Saul’s fatal flaws ruin his life? How did he plunge from first in the divine draft pick to the consummate biblical villain? Unpacking his life verse by verse, I went in looking for dirt and was shocked to discover an amazing person instead. I’d love it if you would turn to I Samuel chapter nine and follow along with me so I don’t have to reprint all the verses here. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
King Saul’s fatal flaws take a back seat to his strengths.
1. Heʼs from good stock (9:1). His father is a man of standing. He’s got a strong heritage.
2. Heʼs impressive (9:2). Sounds like a good quality to have, whatever it is.
3. Heʼs really, really tall (9:2). Studies show that tall people command respect in the workplace.
4. Heʼs obedient and loyal (9:3,4).
5. Heʼs thoughtful (9:5), proving this by making choices based on how is father might be feeling about things.
6. Heʼs flexible (9:6-10), taking the advice of his servant and changing his plans accordingly.
7. Heʼs sent by God (9:16). Always a plus, right?
8. Heʼs polite (9:18)
9. Heʼs impartial (9:6-10,18)
10. Heʼs admired (9:20)
11. Heʼs humble (9:21)
12. Heʼs anointed by God (10:1)
13. God was with him (10:7)
14. Heʼs changeable (10:9)
15. Heʼs open to Godʼs filling (10:10)
16. Heʼs prophetically gifted (10:10,11)
17. He was unique (10:24)
18. Heʼs caring (11:4)
19. Heʼs decisive (11:6-8)
20. Heʼs inspiring (11:6-8)
21. Heʼs a good communicator (11:9)
22. Heʼs a gifted tactician (11:11)
23. Heʼs merciful (11:12,13)
24. He gives God the credit (11:13)
Not bad, huh? Amazing, actually. So how in the world does this nice guy—this golden child, voted most likely to succeed, graduating at the top of his class—end up a villain? How does a good guy become a bad guy? And more importantly, could it happen to me? Well, while making our list of strengths we missed four little clues, skipped over them as they hid in plain view. These are King Saul’s fatal flaws.
King Saul’s Fatal Flaws in a Nutshell:
1. He tended to live independently of God (9:6), not consulting him for guidance and inspiration.
2. He wasnʼt entirely transparent and forthcoming (10:16).
3. He was insecure (10:20-23).
4. He internalized criticism, stuffing it away instead of dealing with it (10:27).
These four clues weren’t just random slip ups, they were fatal flaws. These four “weak streaks” ran through his heart—an independent streak, a dishonest streak, an insecure streak, and a “stuff-it” streak. King Saul’s fatal flaws, barely detectable at first, had already set the stage for a failed life before he took the corner office as King.
Tomorrow, we’ll watch that failed life unfold and hopefully, learn how to avoid King Saul’s fatal flaws for ourselves. Read it now.
Have you ever seen King Saul in this light? Comment below.