These words were part of David’s lament for Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:19-20). Yes, the mighty CAN fall. It is a reality that happened with King Saul, and it’s something that can happen to any of us too. No one – not elders, deacons, preachers or teachers is completely above such a possibility (1 Cor. 10:12). However, an amazing thing about Saul is that he remained king of Israel for approximately 20 years AFTER God had rejected him (cf. 1 Sam. 15:23; 16:1). Surely one of the saddest statements in the Old Testament is that the Lord “had departed from Saul” (1 Sam. 18:12). He continued to hold a position although he lacked the necessary character and the blessing of the Lord so vital in leadership. One must thoughtfully ask if such a tragedy doesn’t occur today. It is possible to be in a visible, high-profile position in the church yet to have lost something much too precious to lose – our character and integrity, our relationship with the Lord and God’s blessing. And we know WHY Saul fell.
- He Put Himself Above God’s Word. Read passages like 1 Samuel 13:9-14 and 1 Samuel 15:9-35 and one can see that Saul had a real problem with putting himself above God’s word. Will we place ourselves ABOVE or UNDER the word?
- He Felt Compelled to Do Wrong. How interesting is the phrase in 1 Samuel 13:12, “So I forced myself.” Saul evidently felt “led” to do something that violated God’s will. If we think that circumstances, or the impulse of the moment, outweigh the will of God, we are sadly mistaken.
- He Was Not Accountable to Anyone. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6). Saul somehow rationalized away his sense of accountability to the Lord, to his friend Samuel and to the nation of Israel. Surely it is a danger sign when we become blind to the priority and responsibility of accountability.
- He Was Consumed by Jealousy and Threatened by Others. This can be seen a number of times in Saul’s life, but in no place is it more evident than in 1 Samuel 18:7-9 when the king becomes angry and jealous because the people cry, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” If we cannot keep from feeling threatened by, and jealous of, others, it reveals a most serious form of heart trouble! (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4-7). Can we NOT appreciate the fact that God blesses and mightily uses other people?
- He Would Seem to Sincerely Repent Only to Fall Back Into the Same Sinful Patterns. See 1 Samuel 24:16-19 and 26:21. Interestingly, no one in the entire Bible said “I have sinned” more than King Saul. Yet he failed to fill the void in his life with deeper love for God and a greater desire to walk in His ways.
Other explanations could easily be given for how a mighty man like Saul fell, but these are sufficient to cause all of us to pause for a moment and contemplate our own lives. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12).