Sometimes I learn things in strange ways. And I annoy the people around me because I get so excited about the things I learn and the weird ways I learn them that I just have to tell all about it. For example, I had a couple of thoughts the other day while watching an episode of CSI. My first thought was, “Never eat while watching an episode of CSI.” My second thought was, “What if you could do a forensic investigation on a soul?” That question reminded me of King Saul. I know; it’s weird. Stay with me.

The story of King Saul holds a strange and gnawing fascination for me. It covers miles of emotional ground. Some average guy finds out one day that he is king. I love that. Who among us hasn’t stapled a paper crown together and walked regally around our first grade classroom? Most of us secretly want to be king one day, and if it comes suddenly and as a surprise—all the better! That’s exactly what happened to Saul, son of Kish. He wasn’t in line for kingship for several reasons. He was from the wrong tribe. And more significantly, up until that point, Israel wasn’t ruled by a king. Saul was raised up out of total obscurity and given a unique opportunity to be a mighty man of God and a blessing to his people. He could’ve been great.

Most men that we think of as great aren't. Mostly they’re just high achievers. But the Bible never commands anyone to be a high achiever. It never tells men to amass great fortunes, build tall buildings, or wield great power. The Bible records one ultimate purpose for us: to love God (Matthew 22:37-38). This love will naturally work its way out into a number of behaviors, like Bible study and obedience. However, the first priority, our most important goal, is to deeply and wholly love God. In addition to that, fathers are to pass this deep love along to their children (Deuteronomy 6:5-7). That’s the true measure of greatness. Whatever else we do is gravy. I’ve been almost ready to do that for a long time, but I’ve always felt that I needed to grow in a few areas before I could really become a man of God.

I’ve always felt that I didn’t have quite enough to be a godly man. I’ve had a feeling that if God would bless me greatly, that would be the turning point for me. Then I would turn around without hesitation and start doing great things for God. Maybe you’ve thought that, too. If I were a better physical specimen, I would be imposing for God. If I were rich and powerful, I could do so much for the kingdom. If I were gifted spiritually, I would serve others gladly. Perhaps on the top of my list, what I really want is for God to actually communicate clearly and verbally, directly to me! If He did, I would do anything for Him. I would obey God so well, so bravely, so passionately. At least I think so. King David had all of these gifts, and he was for the most part a wonderful, shining example of a godly king. On the contrary, every one of these gifts were first given to Saul, son of Kish, but his knees buckled under the weight. He was crushed by the blessing.

It is only fair to give Saul his due. He wasn’t the worst king Israel ever had. I would even argue that to the average man on the street, he would have to be considered in the top five of Israel’s better kings. He didn’t amass numerous wives (think David). He didn’t marry foreign wives (think Solomon and Ahab). He didn’t build and then worship idols (think of a bunch of others). To his credit he achieved quite a bit. He fought against the Philistines, and he actually built a working kingdom where none had existed before. King Saul was a high achiever. But even with all of these achievements, Saul was a spectacular failure in God’s eyes.