We, as Christians, believe we can glean more from watching a positive example rather than a negative. I tend to believe the opposite. The Lord placed men in the Bible who were wicked or who had opportunities to serve Him yet rejected them (like the rich young ruler) for a reason: We can be edified by studying it! I believe the best experience to learn from is somebody else's! I don't want to repeat the mistakes of those who have gone before me, and I'm always thankful for those who have traveled the road of error and are generous enough to offer me wisdom when they see me entertaining to venture the same path.
I firmly believe that Saul is someone from whom the modern Christian, especially the modern Christian, can learn much. He is an example to me of a well intentioned person who makes the wrong choices. Many believe Saul to be unsaved and some believe him to be saved. I will address that in my last post on him, but you may already know to which belief I lean. If he is or is not, bitterness, which was his greatest downfall, is a disease that attacks too many of the Children of the Lord and therefore he is a good life to study to avoid this.
Now, without further ado, the Great Mistake: Saul was ready to battle the Philistines, and he was anxious to begin. However, he was waiting on the prophet, Samuel, to offer a burnt offering. He'd waited seven days, until the time that Samuel told him he would come, but Samuel, for whatever reason did not come. Finally he'd had enough and offered the burnt offering himself.
I believe that modern Christians perceive this mistake in two ways:
1. We see it in a "holier than thou" fashion. We think to ourselves, "Why did he not wait? How horrible to act without the blessing of the Lord?"
2. We think, "I don't understand why this is a problem. He didn't sin, he was offering to the Lord?!"
I think that either way we contort our apprehension of the situation to the point that we are incapable of gleaning what God would have us to learn from it.
What we should realize is that we are an impatient race. Waiting on the Lord is one of the hardest things we will ever have to do, and sometimes he asks us to wait a long time. It's very tempting to go ahead of the Lord, but this is a dangerous thing to do, as Saul learned. I can think of people have felt permanent effects for being to hasty. King Saul was one of these people.
When we don't wait on the Lord we do not follow His perfect plan for our lives. I know of many who have done this, and have repented. These people go on to love and serve the Lord, and though, their lives have been changed forever, they are happy in the service of the King. But, this is not the case with Saul.