Ecstatic Spirit

So David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him everything that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth.  Saul was told, “David is at Naioth in Ramah.” Then Saul sent messengers to take David; but when they saw the group of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came on the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied.  When Saul was informed, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. So Saul sent messengers again, the third time, and they prophesied as well.  Then Saul went to Ramah himself and came to the great well that is in Secu; and he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And he was told, “They are at Naioth [with the prophets] in Ramah.”  So he went on to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him too, and he went along continually prophesying until he came to Naioth in Ramah.  He also took off his [royal] robes [and armor] and prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and night. So they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 1 Samuel 19:18-24

The Spirit of God came upon Saul on the way; whereas it came upon his messengers after they came to the place. This so that God would convince Saul of the vanity of all his designs against David, and that in them he fought against God Himself.

Saul first sends two arresting parties and then goes himself to arrest David, but is prevented by the Spirit of God coming on him. So that the more he hardened himself against God, the more did God show His power upon him. This meant that his mind and heart was otherwise too occupied by the glorious breath of the Spirit of God, to bother about David. For the last time in scripture, we hear that king Saul submitted to the hand of God upon him.

How can Saul’s coming and his conduct be explained? Does everyone there know that Saul is seeking to kill David? If they do not, then Saul’s coming and his conduct are even more mysterious. What other reason could there be for Saul to act like a prophet, among the prophets? We know no man can be controlled by the Spirit of God and carry out his demonic plan to kill God’s anointed. Here is one way that God can insure the safety of David. Even when trying to do the job himself, Saul cannot succeed in preventing what God has purposed. As the glorified Christ said to a later “Saul” [Paul, the apostle], It is hard to kick against the goads.

For all its ideological worth, our present text is silent on the ecstatic Spirit of Yahweh on David especially in this particular context that is enriched with prophetic activity which is extended to the mere or ordinary messengers of Saul. Indeed, in the refusal to associate directly ecstatic behaviour to David and its consistent application of the same to Saul underscores the sentimental nature of the present narrative and its particular polemic against the prophesying of Saul. On the long run, in the descriptions of the embarrassing nakedness of Saul, his madness and intoxicating ecstasy here, the narrator again makes a direct mockery of Saul.

Every time I’m confronted with the mysterious nature of God, in the Bible or personally, I’m humbled. Maybe God was forcing Saul to keep his vow (and indeed, Saul never killed David). Maybe there were things God needed Saul or David to hear, and He used the people who kept coming to speak those words for some reason we’ll never know. Whatever the case, I must remember that authority is established by God and that the overwhelming Spirit of God is enough to still even the most murderous hearts. In light of this, I’m humbled. For this, I am thankful.

Can you think of any moments when you’ve experienced a “God moment” so strong it couldn’t be denied?

 ecstatic spirit


One comment

  1. joseph elon lillie · April 14, 2016

    I have had several of those moments. The gift of prophecy is very strong and while the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet the power of God coming to release a prophecy is very strong and almost undeniable.

    Liked by 1 person

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