Useful to God
Lesson 10

Lesson Ten

Saul: Wasted Potential

Texts: 1 Samuel 9, 10, 11:12-15, and 15

One of the great griefs in life is to know what could have happened but did not happen. The problem was not a lack of abilities. God gave the person or persons the necessary gifts to accomplish the task in a godly manner. The problem was not a lack of opportunity. The opportunity existed. Then what was the problem? Either (1) the person or persons did not trust the abilities/gifts God gave, or (2) the person or persons did not see the opportunity, or (3) the person or persons abused/wasted the gifts, the opportunity, or both.

Rare is the individual who does not look at his or her past in life's rearview mirror and wish he or she had made different decisions at key moments that would have produced a different life. Think of how much your life would have changed if (1) you went to a different school; (2) you prepared for a different career; (3) you married or did not marry; (4) you selected a different spouse; (5) you had more children, fewer children, or no children; (6) you did not believe in God; (7) you trusted God more [had more faith]; (8) the resurrection of Jesus Christ had no impact on your life; (9) you grew up in and lived in a different country; etc. All your life you made choices that make you who you are now. Different choices would have radically impacted who you are and how you live.

Today you are asked to consider a man who had an incredible opportunity, yet wasted himself and his life because he developed and surrendered to bad attitudes.

Few people have enjoyed the privilege of being hand-picked by God for a task and given by God His Spirit to achieve that task. Saul came from a father who was a mighty man of valor [a man of wealth and influence] (1 Samuel 9:1). Saul himself had a striking physical appearance--no one in Israel exceeded him in good appearance or height. He had the physical appearance that blessed leadership ability! Physically, he looked like a leader! Saul also was compassionately humble. (a) He did not brag to his uncle about Samuel's appointment. (b) When what are described as "worthless" [sons of Belial] men insulted him at his inauguration, Saul was silent (1 Samuel 10:27). When Saul later proved his worth, he saved these men's lives (1 Samuel 11:12, 13). (c) Saul was "hand-picked" by God to be Israel's first king (1 Samuel 9:15-17) and was given God's Spirit (1 Samuel 10:6)!

Saul, however, became a very anxious man. In his personal anxiety [and growing refusal to trust God], he became obsessed with himself to the point that he trusted no one. When Samuel did not appear for a sacrifice when Saul expected (1 Samuel 13:8-14), Saul offered the sacrifice, and his action was inappropriate. When his son was devoted to David as a best friend, Saul was irate at Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:30-34). Though David was loyal to Saul constantly in ways many of us would regard as foolish, Saul repeatedly tried to kill David because he saw David only as a rival. When God gave Saul a mission to the Amalekites with specific instructions, Saul dishonored God's request in the desire to (a) do things his way and (b) memorialize his victory (1 Samuel 15:11- 23). When Samuel finally caused King Saul to see the sin, Saul was more concerned about how the leaders of Israel would view him than he was about how God viewed him (1 Samuel 15:30).

God was so disappointed in Saul that God began a new dynasty in Israel that would eventually produce the Messiah, Jesus Christ (1 Samuel 16:1; Matthew 1:1, 16). The problem with Saul was not potential or lack of ability. It was developing an ungodly attitude, holding to that ungodly attitude, and increasingly surrendering to that ungodly attitude regardless of what it did or what it cost him.

God has blessed your life with blessings that exceed your awareness. He has made it possible for you to see His purposes and His Spirit in ways godly people before Jesus Christ were never privileged (consider 1 Peter 1:10-12). Most Christians have potential and opportunity beyond their comprehension.

Our problems are not created by a lack of opportunity or ability, but by one or a combination of these things:

  1. Personal anxiety about the future.

  2. A distrust of God.

  3. A failure to grow in an understanding of God's nature and character.

  4. An unwillingness to do what God equips us to do coupled with desires to do things we are not equipped to do.

  5. A self-centered abuse of God's gifts to us rather than regarding ourselves as stewards of God's gifts.

  6. A view of sin and death as unconquerable enemies rather than viewing sin and death being destroyed as our controllers by God in Jesus' death and resurrection.

  7. A sense of worthlessness that refuses to allow God to give us worth.

You have one life to live. You have a definite number of days of opportunity to serve God's purposes. The opportunities that come your way are limited. The surest way for you to waste your time and opportunities is to assume you always will have them. The moment will come for each of us when either health or age will limit us. No one is wise enough to make "all" decisions wisely. No one lacks the ability to make the majority of decisions wisely. Do not waste life. Do not look back on life with deep regret because you abused, wasted, or thoughtlessly used time and health. Learn, and never stop learning! Understand, and never fear growing in understanding! Bless the rest of your life with the wisdom that comes from learning and understanding!

For Thought and Discussion

  1. What is one of the great griefs in life?

  2. What are three expressions of the problem in this lesson?

  3. Few people enjoyed the privilege of what two things?

  4. Give three examples of Saul's good qualities.

  5. What did Saul become?

  6. Give some examples of Saul's anxiety.

  7. How disappointed was God with Saul?

  8. What was Saul's problem?

  9. List seven things given in this lesson that cause people problems today.

  10. How many physical lives do you have to live?

  11. What is a sure way to waste your time and opportunity?

  12. What two things should you always do?

Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 10

Copyright © 2008
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

previous page | table of contents | next lesson