The Prophesying Persecutor

“And it was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah. And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. Then went he also to Ramah, and came to a great well that is in Sechu: and he asked and said, Where are Samuel and David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah. And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 19:19-24).


This is probably one of the oddest parts of Saul’s life. We already know that the Spirit of God had left him, and that he was in bondage to an evil spirit, but now we read that God’s Spirit came upon him as he tried to track down David.

The school of the prophets

We should see this as simply a Bible school run by the prophet Samuel. Samuel was ordained to instruct and direct them in … holy exercises” (John Wesley).

The worship service

When Saul’s men approached them to ask of the whereabouts of David, they got caught up in the worship that was taking place. The word “prophesying” here does not mean that the prophets were pronouncing God’s word, but that honouring the Lord in word and song. The term means “to bubble up” (Gesenius). They were probably enthusiastically dancing also.

Those who hate the Lord hold nothing as sacred or off limits. Churches and other places of worship mean little to them. These persecutors did not stop the praise; instead the praise stopped them. Three times the king sent men to find David and each time the outcome was the same; they were all overcome by the Holy Spirit and joined Samuel and his students in worshipping the Lord. Where is the true praise of God today? Are visitors convicted of their lack of God’s presence when they come amongst us? “But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). God was using this praise meeting as another way of keeping David out of the hands of Saul.

Do it yourself

King Saul decided to get the job done himself after the third batch came back with the report that God had moved upon them. Saul must have thought that he would be exempt from the glorious presence of God. He was going to come back with the facts rather than become a fanatic. But exactly the same thing happened to him, and not only that, he also took of his royal clothes, walked from Ramah to Naioth worshipping God, and lay the rest on the day and the night on the ground. It looked like Saul had become a fanatic too! Big brave Saul was reduced to lying in the dirt. Thus God, in making the wrath of man to praise Him, preserved the lives of all the prophets, frustrated all the purposes of Saul, and preserved the life of His servant” (Jamieson, Fausett, Brown Commentary). Notice that neither Samuel or his students had done this; therefore we can assume that the Holy Spirit came upon Saul to bring him down to the dust. Hereby God would convince Saul of the vanity of his designs against David, and that in them he fought against God himself” (John Wesley).


Many claim to have come under the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit, but for what reason? Saul and his men did not leave Ramah converted, for they were only affected on the outside rather than inside. Many have had the same experience, but their lives have not been changed. Many have great gifts, yet no grace; they may prophesy in Christ’s name, yet are disowned by him” (Matthew Henry). This is always the way of the false prophet and false followers of Jesus. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23).