1 Samuel 19:23–24—How could it be said that the Spirit of God was upon Saul when God had already rejected him?
Problem: When Saul came to Naioth in Ramah to try to capture David, he sent soldiers up to bring David back in chains. When his soldiers came back empty-handed, Saul decided to go up himself. However, when he came near to Naioth, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him and he danced and prophesied before Samuel. How could it be said that the Spirit of God was upon Saul when God had already rejected him?
Solution: The Spirit of the Lord was not upon Saul at this time in the same way that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him before his rejection. Originally, the Spirit came upon Saul to minister through him. On this occasion the Spirit came upon him to resist his evil intentions. In this incident, Saul’s intent was to capture and ultimately kill David, but Saul was unwilling to chance a face-to-face encounter with the prophet Samuel. Twice Saul sent messengers to capture David and bring him back in chains, but each time the Spirit of the Lord overcame them so that they were unable to accomplish their task. Finally, Saul went up himself. However, when he came near to Naioth, the Spirit of the Lord overcame him so that he could not control himself. He danced and prophesied until he fell exhausted on the ground. The Spirit of the Lord overcame Saul and thwarted his efforts to capture David.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.