In 1 Samuel 19:18–24, we are reminded of God’s power and control over all, even those who are actively in defiance to God. When David fled from the king, he went three miles away to seek help from Samuel at Ramah. Both Samuel and David have known the possibility of death at the hands of Saul (1 Samuel 16:2).
The two of them apparently left Samuel’s house to take up temporary residency at “Naioth.” Reports about David’s whereabouts soon reached the king, and he immediately “sent agents to seize David” (1 Samuel 19:19). Saul’s servants entered Naioth, they saw Samuel and a group of prophets prophesying.
Before they could start a search for David, however, they were captured by God’s Spirit and compelled to join the prophets. They were unable to continue with their royal mission from Saul. God’s Spirit acted to protect David.
Saul was not to be deterred from killing David. He sent a second group to find David and capture him. The second group were overcome and were captured by God’s Spirit and compelled to join the prophets. Increasingly more desperate, Saul sent a third group of men with identical results. The Spirit of God was gently invincible; those who had entered into Naioth under the influence of the ruler of Israel now found themselves under the infinitely greater influence of the ruler of the universe.
As a last resort Saul “himself left for Ramah” (1 Samuel 19:22). In
But in a climactic show of divine power, the Spirit of God made a mockery of the king. Unlike the three groups before him who were captured by God’s Spirit when they arrived at Naioth, Saul, began prophesying as “he walked along” some distance from Naioth.
Then when he actually arrived at his destination, the Spirit of God so overwhelmed him that “he stripped off his robes” (a grave shame in the ancient Near East; 1 Samuel 19:24) as he continued to prophesy “in Samuel’s presence.” The king, Israel’s most powerful citizen, was subjugated by the power of God.
Saul’s nakedness and loss of royal attire in the presence of God’s Spirit presented a powerful image confirming the prophetic judgments Samuel made earlier (1 Samuel 15:23, 28). God had rejected Saul as king, so in God’s presence Saul would not be permitted to wear the clothing of royalty. Saul had “rejected the word of the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:23), so now in an ironic twist he would be condemned to be a mouthpiece for that word.
Saul remained “naked” and in a prophetic trance “all that day and night.” His actions, gave new life to the saying coined when Saul was first anointed king over Israel (1 Samuel 10:11), “Is Saul also among the prophets?”