19 October 2006

The Spirit of the Lord came upon him

According to the Bible, what happens when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon somebody?

Well, the short answer is this: a Spirit-possessed person usually kills things.

The phrase ("the Spirit of the Lord came upon him") occurs only 8 times (in 7 verses) in the Bible. Let's see what happens in each case.


The Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel and he went to war. (The same thing happened to Bush.)

And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war. Judges 3:10


When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, he blew a trumpet. That sounds innocent enough (even if a little crazy). But Gideon (with God's Spirit) used the trumpet to summon soldiers to war. (For details about the war see Gideon's story: The Lord set every man's sword against his neighbor)

But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet. Judges 6:34

When the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, he killed his daughter as a burnt offering to pay God back for providing him with "a very great slaughter."

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah ... And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. ... and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he smote them ... And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances ... And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth. And ... her father ... did with her according to his vow which he had vowed. Judges 11:29-39

Samson had God's Spirit on him three times. Each time he kills something: first a lion, then 30 men, and finally 1000 men.

Behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid. Judges 14:5-6
And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him ... and slew thirty men. Judges 14:19
And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him ... And he found a new jawbone of an ass ... and slew a thousand men therewith. Judges 15:14-15
Saul and David

The Spirit of God was on Saul until he refused to kill all the Amalekites as commaded by God in 1 Samuel 15:2-3. For refusing to commit genocide, God took away his Spirit from Saul, sicked "an evil spirit from the Lord" on him, and transfered his Spirit over to David, where it remained forever. (In a previous post I described some of the things a person can do when the Spirit of God comes on him.)

The Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. 1 Samuel 16:13-14


Sovereign John said...

you've a wonderful blog. I'm linking

Anonymous said...

That's 8 times

Ittay said...

maybe the lesson of all these examples are that sometimes there are "spirits" that are best ignored, whilst at other times it is best to listen.

Tim Morris said...

As I wrestle with scriptures like these I have to ask, what does it say about God, and how does it relate to me?
The best I have come up with is that these scriptures show us the need to eradicate sin form our lives.
Genocide in scripture is troubling indeed.
Interesting post.

Jimmy P said...

Think about the importance of these passages! I'll post more later about the history of these kills...promise.

TerrysAlt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TerrysAlt said...

all the Amalekites as commaded by God

I think you missed an n. :)

Ian Smith said...

Not that I'm offended, this is interesting. However as someone presenting his case poised to address the controversial - it should be in a level headed and objective manner. The fact is, The spirit has descended more times then mentioned - the ones you omit are peaceful.

1 Sam.10: 5 "After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.10 When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.

2Chron.15:1 The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, "Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

There are others.

Steve Wells said...

Ian Smith,

The passages that you mention don't use the exact phrase ("the spirit of the Lord came upon him") that I based this post upon. But I agree that "the spirit of the Lord" came upon other people too, as shown by the two passages that you mention.

I don't agree, however, that the episodes involved were peaceful. The first one (1 Sam 10:5-10) seems to be a prophecy of what would happen to Saul in the next chapter, when the Saul chops up the oxen and send their body parts as invitations to fight in a war. (1 Sam 11:7)

In your second example, Asa slaughters 700 oxen and 7000 sheep when the spirit of the Lord comes upon him, which then seems to inspire his people to kill anyone who refuses to worship the Lord. (2 Chr 15:1-13)

Doesn't seem very peaceful to me, Ian.

Do you have any other examples?