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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 19

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 24


‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’

1 Samuel 19:24

We are not told any remarkable points in the character or early discipline of Saul; there were probably none to tell. As we have often had occasion to notice in the earlier Scripture narratives, a man not distinguished from his fellows by any peculiar gifts, merely a specimen of the ordinary human material, may nevertheless be brought most livingly before us; we may be compelled to feel that he is an individual man, one of ourselves, and as such to care for him.

I. There are moments in the mind of the dullest, most prosaic man, when unknown springs seem to be opened in him, when either some new and powerful affection, or quite as often the sense of a vocation, fills him with thoughts and causes him to utter words which are quite alien from his ordinary habits, and which have yet in them a pledge and savour of originality. It is a fact of this kind which the record discloses to us. ‘God gave him another heart—the Spirit of God came upon him’—these are the words which tell us what that prophetic impulse denoted. However unwonted might be the thoughts which stirred in him and the words which he poured forth, they could not have come from some irregular tumultuous excitement, they must have proceeded from the very spirit of calmness and order. Saul was among the prophets, precisely because he confessed the presence of such a spirit of calmness and order.

II. Saul is no monster who has won power by false means and then plunges at once into a reckless abuse of it—no apostate who casts off the belief in God, and sets up some Ammonite or Phœnician idol. He merely forgets the Lord and the teacher who had imparted to him that new life and inspiration, he merely fails to remember that he is under a law and that he has a vocation. The calm spirit of trust and hope has been resisted and grieved, and there comes upon him an evil spirit from the Lord, an accusing conscience warning him of what he had been, throwing its dark shadow upon the present, making the future look dim and gloomy.

III. There are glimpses of light in the later life of Saul, which we refer at once to a Divine source, which it would be sinful to refer to any other.—The love and loyalty of David, in sparing his life, were not unrewarded. They struck out sparks of love in him, they made it evident that there was something deeper and healthier beneath all his strangest distortions of mind. And that sacred inspiration, of which our text speaks, which recalled the almost forgotten question, “Is Saul among the prophets?” though it came mixed with a wild kind of insanity, yet proclaimed that God’s Spirit, which bloweth where it listeth, had not left this building to be a mere possession for the birds of night.

Rev. F. D. Maurice.


(1) ‘This was mentioned as a proverb, by anticipation, at (3) ‘Saul was stricken down in much the same way as men have been stricken down in religious meetings since. Such a phenomenon often took place at Bristol and elsewhere under the preaching of John Wesley, in the early days of his career. But the results were very different. In the case of recent revivals the outcome was a change of heart and life, and an exalted and blessed religious experience. In Saul, the experience was as the early cloud and the morning dew that passeth away. Let us judge ourselves that we be not judged. Let us be sure that our religious life is not a mere reflection of our association with others; the influence of whose religion temporarily and superficially affects us, as the influence of the burning earnestness of these young men affected Saul.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 19". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/1-samuel-19.html. 1876.
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