Study Guide

1 Samuel Leadership

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Following the leader, the leader the leader. We're following the leader wherever he may go.

Sounds fun enough, right? But here's the thing: blindly following a leader just because they're in charge probably isn't the smartest thing you could ever do. (There is one exception: when we're in charge, listen to us.)

Why's it a bad idea? Well, think of it this way. The book of 1 Samuel is all about changes in leadership. Before Saul was anointed king, the people of Israel only had judges to unite them. This was cutting it for the fine folks in ancient Israel, so Saul got the top job. As it turns out, he's not such a great leader. Most of the time, he's more concerned with public opinion than doing what God wants. If he were a president or a prime minister in the modern world, he would always be studying opinion polls in order to make his decisions. And when he's not trying to please the people, he still makes really dumb moves. During one battle with the Philistines, he tells his troops that they aren't allowed to eat. With a hot and difficult battle ahead, they really should be grubbing. Saul's poor decision ultimately cost him the throne, but hey, we kind of saw that coming right?

Samuel then chooses David to be king. Saul has more resources than David, but David is the better leader. He always seems to triumph—no matter what the circumstances. We're sad to say, if you really boil down the story, Saul loses the throne to a 12-year-old boy. Just when you thought Saul couldn't get any sadder.

Questions About Leadership

  1. What makes David such a good leader, anyway? Is it all charisma, or does he make smart, decisive choices, too?
  2. Why is Saul such a failure as a king? Is he entirely to blame, or are there other circumstances affecting his leadership?
  3. What kind of a leader is Samuel? How would you describe his leadership qualities?
  4. What do the Israelites need in a leader, based on what you know of them as a culture from 1 Samuel?

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