Meditations in 1 Samuel 41. Spiritual Security
1 Sam 19:18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there.
Spiritual security comes in having a mentor, someone you can turn to for advice and help and counsel, someone to whom you can be accountable. It is interesting that when David fled from Saul he turned to Samuel. We have just seen how David escaped from Saul with the help of both Jonathan and Michal and having done that he makes his way to Ramah where Samuel lived: “When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there.” (v.18) Naioth appears to be a suburb of Ramah where we will see a company of prophets lived, presumably under the tutelage of Samuel.
But this situation is not allowed to last long for, “Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; so he sent men to capture him.” (v.19,20a) Saul is not going to let up on his pursuit of David and indeed it will continue virtually until Saul’s eventual death. From now on David is well and truly on the run. As we will see soon, he does still seek to bring peace and restoration to his situation but it will be to no avail. Saul is out to get him and that will keep on. However before this all happens, a strange thing happens here.
Saul’s men come to arrest David, “But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s men and they also prophesied.” (v.20b) Now this sort of thing has happened before. When Saul has first met Samuel he had prophesied that this would happen: “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.” (1 Sam 10:5,6) and so it turned out (1 Sam 10:10,11). It would appear that the powerful presence of the Lord among the company of prophets was so strong that it then included anyone who joined themselves to them; in this case Saul. We have also seen Saul prophesying when David played his harp (1 Sam 18:10).
These are challenging verses to understand, and it gets worse: “Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied.” (v.21) These are soldiers, not prophets, but they all find themselves swept into the prophetic (probably) praise of God. Eventually Saul himself turns up and gets caught up in it: “Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” “Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said. So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (v.22-24) One commentary speaking of this prophesying that was going on speaks of it as ‘appearing to designate an enthusiastic praising of God inspired by the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have heard good hearted people in the past saying ‘the Holy Spirit is a gentleman’ who will always be gentle and never make us do anything we don’t want to do, but that fails to face the truth of what happened here and what happened on the Day of Pentecost. When the powerful presence of God turns up, as numerous revivals testify, that presence sweeps all before it and believer and unbeliever alike can get carried along in the move. (Of course the unbeliever soon isn’t an unbeliever any longer!!!!) But there do seem to be times where the sovereign presence of God seems so real and so powerful that all fall before Him and end up praising Him. To be honest, this is somewhat rare but it has happened in the history of the church and in the records we are considering now.
The security that David has found with Samuel which means he is protected from Saul’s hostile desires, is simply the powerful presence of the Lord. I wonder if sometimes in the psalms when David writes of God being his stronghold and fortress he has in mind such times as this when the very presence of God overcame all hostile intentions and provided this protection we find here. When we go on we will see that David fled from here leaving Saul in the presence of God, captured by that presence, if you like.
Although this is very different from the gift of prophecy we find in the New Testament, one cannot help adding the wry comment that those exercising the gift are not specially spiritual people, for these passages reveal He comes on those who are very far from perfect. Yes, He comes on Christians and He comes on those who are available and He desires to change and mature us as He uses us. As we have seen so clearly in these passages, when the powerful presence of God came, He changed each person. When Jesus expresses his gifts through people today, changes will take place, both in the person receiving the word and the person bringing the word. As that prophecy on the Day of Pentecost shows, it was to glorify God. In the gift that Paul speaks about, in the early verses of 1 Cor 14, it is to glorify God by building up the church by blessing, encouraging, comforting and strengthening people, but ultimately all of that is to glorify God. However it may come, that is always the work of the Holy Spirit and the ministry of Jesus – to glorify the Father. May it be so.