God chose the nation of Israel for Himself and decided to be their King, but like other nations, they preferred one they could see with their eyes. In 1 Samuel 8:8, they asked Samuel the national prophet to petition God for a King that will rule them. Subsequently, God chose a tall, handsome, kindhearted but humble young man called Saul. Saul’s leadership had an immediate impact on the nation as a series of military conquests established his leadership. Unfortunately, two errors would be the undoing of his reign. He presumptuously offered up a sacrifice that was ‘ultra vires’ for him to offer(1 Samuel 13:9) and lost his throne. To make matters worse, he disobeyed God’s instructions in his war against the Amalekites by allowing soldiers to return home with booties(1 Samuel 15:15-20).
God decided to replace Saul with a young shepherd boy named David. Just like Saul, he was anointed with oil to be King, however, at the time, Saul was still reigning over Israel. This anointing would propel the young man to Kill a giant Saul could not kill and accomplish more at war than his master. He became an object of the master’s jealousy and ended up a fugitive running around the hill of Judah and subsequently on the Gaza strip hiding from his murderous master. The death of Saul who was after David’s life was supposed to be good news to David and so excitedly, an Amalekite young man when to inform him of it. The young man had by chance seen Saul in a near-death situation and on Saul’s request, helped to kill him so the Philistine army would not. David, rather than get excited at the death of his enemy began to lament in the historical ‘Song of the bow’ in 2 Samuel 1:15-20).
A couple of statements stood out to me in the song. Firstly, the second opens up with ‘Your pride and joy, O Israel, lies dead on the hills!’. What makes a leader the pride and the joy of his people? I believe it starts from his ability to protect them. He went on to describe Saul’s military prowess and invincibility at war. He led Israel from conquest to conquest. Terrorism, kidnapping, hired killings, banditry and armed robbery were nowhere to be found, talk less of the government security agencies turning on the people they ought to secure. Applying this to pastoral and business leadership means no preying on people’s ignorance, nor exploiting them materially. It means not abusing power and taking undue advantage of people’s vulnerabilities. It means standing for truth and justice, ensuring equity and fairness in all our dealings.
In verse 34 again, he said ‘O women of Israel, weep for Saul, for he dressed you in luxurious scarlet clothing, in garments decorated with gold. This was nothing but a testament to the remarkable improvement in the people’s living standards. Leadership ought to be transformational. It must result in positive change and evident elevation of the quality of life of the led. In as much as governmental leadership is usually more in focus here, it is my conviction that leadership at all levels ought to directly or indirectly result in such a positive impact. It is obvious that the trend continued in the days of David. Under his leadership, Israel conquered more territories, prospered economically and became the greatest nation on earth. His son Solomon inherited a peaceful, well secured and prosperous nation.
Perhaps the best testament to qualitative leadership will be found in the chronicles of the reign of Solomon the son of David. 1 Kings 10 records his outstanding exploits in manufacturing, particularly of military equipment, massive import and export trade, excellent protocols and organization, exceptional human capital development and innovation. 2 chronicles 8 further records some of his exploits and includes the fact that citizens of conquered territories were conscripted into the labor force while the Jews were military men, officers and supervisors in the least. All true leadership must advance the course of human development and advancement. Living standards must go up.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit is intended by God to empower us all with the wisdom and favor we need to advance the course of humanity. At various spheres of human endeavor, we ought to deploy our gifts and skills to impact positively on people. God has designed that in so doing our needs will be met and generations blessed. The Kings of Israel were anointed to lead, manage, administrate, adjudicate, legislate and trade with the human and material resources of the nation for the advancement of their commonwealth. This reflection is a call for you and I to appropriately deploy the grace of God to make our nations a better place in every sphere and strata of influence through selfless and sacrificial leadership. We cannot wait till we become governors, presidents, or even CEOs. We must all begin where we are to contribute to the evolution of better nations and societies.