“How the mighty have fallen!” cried David when he lamented the death of king Saul. (2 Samuel 1 vss 19, 25, 27). Saul was not what we would consider a ‘success’. He had disobeyed God’s command to destroy Israel’s enemies, the Amalekites, turned to a medium in desperation and acted out of self preservation when pressured by his troops to save the best (1 Sam 15:7- 26). Every leader has spectacular failings. John F. Kennedy had affairs, as did Martin Luther King. Richard Nixon lied and conspired to pervert the course of justice. Recent findings by the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse have turned the spot light on many cases of abuse by leaders in positions of power in social and sporting clubs, churches and institutions with the responsibility to care for the disabled and vulnerable.
Saul did have some military successes. He had begun to bind the disjointed tribes of Israel together as a nation and he saved the city of Jabesh (1 Sam ch 11). David is magnanimous in his lament which is surprising given how Saul had hunted him in order to kill him. But even David had his faults – and they were equally as spectacular as Saul’s. In fact, almost every ‘hero’ of the Bible has faults exposed. There was one man, our Lord Jesus Christ, who although tempted and tested, did not fail in his obedience to God (Hebrews 5:8). The Bible gives an unvarnished account of heroes of the faith and their faults – to teach us wisdom. It is not book which we read, but a book which reads us and casts a light on our own moral weaknesses and temptations.