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


Anonymous 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. :)

TrueChasidim 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?

Jeremy Jones said...

Old Testament

"So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power."

-1 Samuel 16:13
No violence occurred immediately after this event. Samuel 17 leads us to believe that he went back to taking care of his father's sheep after this. If this verse means that the spirit came upon him and never left, then there is even more Biblical support for a nonviolent Spirit in the Old Testament. We know that David did many nonviolent things in his life. Yes, he was a warrior and he had to fight because of it. Furthermore, he was sinful like all humans and did wicked things, but he wrote many wonderful songs, raised the wisest human ever, and praised God as well.

"And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying."

-Acts 19:6

These people began to speak in other languages and preach. Definitely not violent.

'But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Jeremy Jones said...

New Testament

-Acts 1:8

The Spirit came upon the disciples and started the largest movement based on nonviolence ever. Furthermore, there were many healings that accompanied this. Healing is arguably the opposite of violence. Yes, people who called themselves Christians have done violent things in God's name after this, but all of that evil was completely contradictory to the new covenant and flies in the face of all that Jesus said.

Having the Spirit of God living in me, I know it isn't violent. I can personally feel the love, the peace, and the joy that comes from the Spirit first hand. Sometimes I feel it empower me and it causes me to speak passionately and eloquently. Sometimes it removes fear and fills me with courage. Other times it fills me with joy, moves me to give, and many other things. To my knowledge, I have never needed it in a violent situation.

"But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."

-Matthew 10:19-20

I think that whatever your circumstance is, then the Spirit will empower you to be victorious when you are in his will. When you face physical violence, then the Spirit will empower you to be victorious in that way if it is His will.

As for genocide, all life comes from God. If people are misusing the life they received from Him, then He has every right to take it back. If you loaned someone your car, and they were using it to run over people, then don't you have the right to take it back? If you had to get the police involved to get the car back, and things became violent, wouldn't you feel justified? We see things on such a small scale. In my opinion, it would be impossible for us to judge God with our limited knowledge and insight.

Jeremy Jones said...

Lastly, Saul wasn't being punished for not being violent. God wasn't mad that Saul wasn't violent. The scripture clearly states that Saul was being punished for disobeying God out of greed. He took the animals that were supposed to be executed. As previously stated, who knows why God wanted the animals dead. Regardless, it wasn't for violence sake that Saul was punished. We do not know what kind of wicked things from the spiritual side of reality were attached to those animals due to the wicked behavior and practices of their owners. There are so many things we do not see.

"Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, 'If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.' He said to them, 'Go!' So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water."
-Matthew 8:28-34
I hope this helps your understanding in some way. As someone who has the Spirit dwelling within, I can tell you first hand that the Spirit is loving. Please have a nice day.

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