Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The company of the prophets in 1 Sam. 19 and the power of testimony

18 ¶So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth.
19 And it was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.
20 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.
21 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. (1 Sam. 19:18-21)

The company of the prophets is something you don’t hear anything of in the Old Testament until the time of Samuel.  This makes me think it was an institution that Samuel established to help keep the Israelites in the right way so that Samuel wasn’t the only one teaching and preaching and testifying of the coming Messiah.  We first see the company of the prophets in 1 Samuel 10 when Samuel instructs the newly anointed Saul that he will meet a company of the prophets coming back from worship and that He would prophesy with them.

The advantage of having a company of prophets was that it wasn’t an office (as far as we can tell here), but a spiritual state that required spiritual maturity, testimony, and knowledge of God.

We know from John’s writings in Revelation that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  I don’t think that was any different in the Old Testament.

When I read the events in these verses, it was cool to me that the messengers of Saul were so moved by the testimonies they heard from the prophets.  I started asking myself what thoughts and feelings they might have felt as they were worked upon by the Spirit.  Here’s what I surmise they might felt:

The text says they saw the company of the prophets prophesying and Samuel standing as appointed over them.  It must have struck them with great force how great the contrast was between these men led by a great prophet sharing great spiritual messages and their own mission as messengers of a murderous king, sent to take and execute David, a great hero.   No honest-hearted man could realize this without yearning to be one of the prophets with a message of salvation rather than a messenger of undeserved destruction.

What might the messengers have prophesied of? 

I imagine they anticipated the day when the Messiah (the anointed one) would come and save them so that they would no longer be in bondange to sin and forced to serve Satan.  They could easily draw parallels between their situation – being servants of a murderous king – and being in bondage to Satan.

I think one thing we can get from this story is how powerful testimony can be in blunting evil purposes.  The messengers of Saul had a mission—take David so he could be killed.  But testimony and the Spirit of the Lord stopped them in their tracks. 

How do you think can we use testimony today to fight evil?


Suzanne Benner said...

That's an interesting question. I think that in these verses we see that it isn't about direct confrontation, but about inclusion and conversion. :) Instead of fighting them, God just inspired them. ... Maybe we can do the same, though perhaps on a smaller scale. As we stand up for Good and set an example of being obedient, and we show that God brings joy, comfort, and meaning to our lives, perhaps people who are yearning for some of that will ask us about it and we can share with them the reasons that we hope. :)

Michaela Stephens said...

Good point, Suzanne; I like what you say about how in this story it isn't about direct confrontation, but about inclusion and conversion.