But they acted treacherously against the God of their fathers and played the prostitute with the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, [that is,] the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away into exile—the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh—and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, [where they remain] to this day. – 1 Chronicles 5:25-26
Notice, it is God who brings this punishment on His people for their unfaithfulness. In this particular instance, God uses people who are not followers of God to carry out His mission. We are all God’s creation, and we are all subject to His will. We are not all sons of God, however. We become sons of God, when we accept the Lord as our Saviour. Only believers in God are His children. The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh were on the eastern side of the Jordan. They were some of the fiercest fighters Israel had. They were supposed to protect Israel from attack from the east. We see, when God decided they were to be punished, they seemed to have no power at all. Assyria did not kill them, but took them captive as slaves. They would never be a united Israel again, and come back into the land. They would be scattered forever. The town and the river mentioned were in Padan-aram.
Note the spirit of the Assyrians were not dead. If there is a spirit there to be stirred, and if the spirit needed to be stirred to motivate them, then that spirit wasn’t dead. Their spirit was neither dead nor inoperative. It was functional. God interacted with that spirit.