In 1 Samuel 15, Saul was called by God to go out and totally destroy the Amalekites. God words were, “Do not spare them…” Yet, Saul made his own judgment call in the field to spare their leader and some livestock. Samuel, whom God put in a position to speak truth into Saul’s life comes along to find Saul hanging out with the sounds of the barnyard in the background. When Samuel walks up to him, Saul is proud of himself, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.” Really? You think God is pleased, huh?
At that point Samuel HAS to speak truth into Saul’s life. The nation literally depends on it. He reminds Saul of the mission and Saul tries to dispute Samuel’s claims with lame excuse about how he thought God would like the burnt offerings. Then Samuel reminds Saul about God’s character.
“Do you think all God wants our sacrifices – empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. Getting self-important around God is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors. Because you said No to God’s command, he says No to your kingship.” (The Message)
Leaders like Saul don’t respond well to truth being spoken into their lives because they think they have God all figured out. Once Saul realized that what Samuel was saying about God was true, He admitted his sin. I believe it was more because, just like he was afraid to offend the people, he was afraid of offending God. Saul was worried more about appearances than truth. He was all about pleasing the person or group at hand. Let’s tell them what they want to hear! Saul failed to be obedient, not only in the original act, but also in the turning. He resisted the turning. He resisted the truth. This was the beginning of the end of Saul’s leadership. It is a very familiar and unfortunate leadership profile. When we resist obedience and truth, our ability to influence others ends.