“Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food. 25 The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. 26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.[c] 28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint. 29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?” 1 Samuel 14.24-30
So much can be learned from the Bible. It’s not only the world’s best selling book by far with billions of copies sold, it is the literature from which so many of our idioms, figures of speech, life lessons and analogies come. The Bible is not just a book about God’s redemptive love for humanity through the person of Jesus Christ (although this is it’s primary purpose), it is also a practical guide to living life. God provides so much insight, wisdom, love and purpose through these sixty-six books we call the Bible.
All that to say, the Bible says something about leadership and Saul was a sorry leader. The Bible gives many examples about leadership and sometimes they are positive, look at the Prophet Samuel for example, and other times it is poor. In this case, Saul has made another serious blunder as king.
The Israelites routed the Philistines because Jonathan inquired of the Lord and sought his favor. As a result, he and his armor-bearer bested twenty Philistine soldiers and God put the whole army into chaos. The victory was complete as they chased the Philistines across the hills and valleys, killing them and driving them away from their lands.
Jonathan, after a very full day on the battle field spots some honey, dips his staff into it and with his hand put some in his mouth. The scripture tells us that “his eyes brightened.” It was a good thing. But just at moment, his men told him what his father and the king Saul had decreed, “Cursed by anyone who eats food today.” Saul made this ruling for apparently no good reason. Jonathan says it would have been better had the men eaten after a hard day of battle and the “slaughter of the Philistines (would) have been even greater.”
Saul acted rashly. Why not allow the people to eat? Why keep the men from enjoying the plunder? Apparently he didn’t have a good reason. He just thought it was a good idea, or, he was being controlling of his men and unable to show grace and encouragement.
Some leaders are this way. Some are filled with such hate, insecurity and fear that they can’t share authority or provide blessings to their followers. However, others empower their followers, employees and friends in such a way that people are emboldened and encouraged.
Jesus was also the type of leader who made people better and he wants us imitate his example. Saul was weak minded, disobedient and lacking courage. But Jesus was a servant leader who had every right to resist humanity but allowed God’s will for his life to take course. Jesus was sacrificial in his leadership. He was loving, healing and full of grace (read Philippians 2).
What kind of leader does God want you to be? Each of us has someone who looks to us as their leader. Why not allow the love of Christ to infuse us that we might be filled with his Holy Spirit and lead in a way that points people to God? Turn to God today. Place your heart in his hands and allow him to shape you into the leader he wants you to by his grace and for his glory.
“O Lord God, you are good. I thank you for another day of beauty, of love and of grace. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with courage and not fear. Give me hope for the day ahead and anticipation of what you have in store for me. I love you Lord and thank you for the leadership lesson we learn in the Bible and especially in Jesus. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen