Reading: 1 Samuel 16—19
Have you ever found some of the events in Saul's life confusing? I find it especially so when we encounter him, after the Lord rejected him as king and the Lord had departed from him (1 Samuel 16:14), but then, as he walks up to the company of prophets, “the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying...”. Then the people are asking, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 19:23-24).
In 1 Samuel 10:6-7, 10-11, Saul was anointed king over Israel. When the Spirit of God came on him with power, he became a different person, and the people asked, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” Saul did not, however, continue to trust the Lord and be directed by His Spirit, rather he trusted in himself; therefore, Saul was rejected as King (1 Samuel 15:26). This sets the scene for Samuel to anoint David as king.
The Lord instructs Samuel to stop his mourning over Saul and to go anoint one of Jesse's sons to be king. Samuel is instructed,
“Take a heifer with you and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' 3Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate." (1 Samuel 16:2-3)
As I read this today I could not help but note the similarity between the instructions Samuel receives about how the new king will be identified and anointed with power and the instructions John the Baptist receives concerning the Messiah, the King who will sit on David's throne.
33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." (John 1:33-34)
Like David's anointing, which was followed by years of powerful exploits accompanied with suffering before he would reign on the throne, Jesus' anointing as King over Israel with the Spirit and power was followed by years of powerful exploits accompanied with suffering before He would reign on High!
After David is identified by the Lord and anointed, we see the Lord come on David and we see David relying on the Lord. David walked in the Spirit, we might say, as he trusted God when he encountered Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:37). Simultaneously, as David is given great success because the Lord is with him, Saul is losing grip on the kingdom as he is tormented by an evil spirit. Even the success of military exploits becomes reason for bitterness as he is consumed with his own glory and can't stand that the people are singing about David too. Eventually, even his daughter is pulled from him as she assists David in his escape from her own father the king (1 Samuel 19:11-17).
Saul, in his anger sends men to find David and kill him. David had gone to Samuel in Ramah. So when Saul's men arrive, the Spirit of God comes on them and they begin prophesying— implying they are incapacitated to finish the job of killing David. And each time Saul sends a new group to finish the job, the same thing happens. Part of God's judgment on Saul, for trusting in himself and not the Lord is that Saul is now completely unable to do what would seem the simplest tasks for a king. (Recall how he failed to hit David with his spear!)
So finally Saul goes himself. I can imagine his thought was, “I'll show these incompetents how to do this.” And what happens? The Spirit of God comes on him again, in a way the same way as when he was first anointed king, but really, in exactly the opposite way. Now he is prophesying, and strips off his robes and lies there all day and night in Samuel's presence. This “prophecy” is really a sign of God's judgment on Saul. He is unable to do anything; he is humiliated before the Lord; He is stripped bare. It didn't produce powerful action, but powerless inaction.
Oh the joy to know that Christ trusted the Father to the very end (Luke 23:46). The Spirit was not taken from Him. And therefore He was able to send the Spirit from His throne on High to be with us. Oh that we would learn to trust in Him, and not lean on our own wisdom and strength. For more on how we do this, read a previous post called, “Who Will Go Before You?” The church does nothing apart from God's Spirit...at least nothing of kingdom consequence (Acts 1:4).
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,