IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK: SAUL’S CONVERSION


He was from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest of all the tribes of Israel. Yet, out of this anonymity he was chosen of God to lead a life of impact upon God’s people and upon the surrounding nations. This [1]chosen one was anointed by Yahweh and [2]sanctioned by the religious authority of his day. His character drove him to [3]search after the lost and wayward, not easily giving up on this task of retrieving the ones who had wandered away. Conversely, the zeal of his [4]unabated anger would lead him toward murderous attempts on the lives of the righteous. Though chosen by God and anointed for purposes beyond his wildest imaginations, this was a man badly in need of conversion – the need to be changed into a different man. It would take an invasive supernatural encounter to call him to the higher purposes that God had intended for him to fulfill. Could he handle the call of Yahweh to become a different man? Could he carry the unction and power that was to be thrust upon him? The story unfolds clearly in the biblical text.

One could mistakenly think that I am referring to the New Testament apostle, Saul of Tarsus, but I have chosen to investigate the calling of his namesake, King Saul, who lived about one thousand (1,000) years earlier. While there are clear distinctions in the scriptures between the two men, one thing stood in common – both were in need of conversion. As we think about the personal flaws of Israel’s first king, we could bypass the powerful conversion story that Samuel records. No wonder that the [5]prophet grieved over Saul’s mishandling of God’s calling, anointing and conversion into “another man” by the Spirit of God.

BACKGROUND
Saul’s father lost his donkey and sent his son to find them. After several days of unsuccessful searching, nearing the expiration of their supplies, Saul’s servant suggested that they visit the seer/prophet of Israel in a last ditch effort that perhaps he could help them. Israel had already rejected Yahweh as their king, in favor of requesting a man to be assigned to that position over them. (See blog post “Rejecting the Residue of Restraint” in www.thecommentarian.com). Prior to their arrival, the Lord told Samuel that HE was going to reveal HIS choice for Israel’s new man-king. Per the people’s request to have a king like the nations around them Saul certainly had the pedigree and [6]looked the part. As in the days of the Egyptian slavery, Israel had been calling out to the Lord for [7]deliverance from the oppression of the Philistines. God had chosen Saul as their deliverer. When Samuel approached Saul with this God-given assignment, Saul (much like Moses at the burning bush) [8]disqualified himself from the task. Undeterred, Samuel anointed him and prophesied specific events that would take place in Saul’s life later that day.

Samuel described three specific encounters with people that would occur as he released Saul to go on his way. The third encounter would take place at the [9]“hill of God” where there was a garrison of Philistines stationed. These were the very ones the Lord had declared from whom Saul would deliver Israel. As Saul bypassed this garrison, a group of prophets who had been worshipping at the hill of God would encounter Saul. Samuel had foretold: [10]“Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you , and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.”

ASSESSMENTS, INSIGHTS, QUESTIONS
A basic result of the Spirit of the Lord coming upon a man is change. Saul was turned about and converted when the Spirit came upon him. Something significant about his life changed immediately. His family did not have any history in being prophetic, in that his father was described as a [11]mighty man of valor which may have indicated that Kish was, perhaps, a military man. With the Spirit of the Lord upon Saul, he became a prophet, though it may have only been on this occasion for this confirming purpose of validating Samuel’s word to Saul. Samuel directed Saul to pay close attention to these [12]signs, because this was evidence that God was with him. By these signs, Saul should be confident to do as thy hand shall find. The apostle Paul said something very similar to one of the New Testament churches: [13]Whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men: knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of inheritance for ye serve the Lord Christ.” We need to pay attention to the things that the Lord brings before us because these are the thing that our hands find to do.

Once that Saul left Samuel, God gave him [14]another heart. [15](Hebrew word: haphak). This verse 9 is the fulfillment of Samuel’s prophesy in verse 6. This encounter is described as the Spirit of God coming mightily upon him, which means in Hebrew: to rush and break forth. How could this not point to a millennia forward in the upper room where [16]“…suddenly there came a sound from heaven as a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting?” This experience with the rushing mighty ruach (Hebrew word for wind, breath, spirit) converted (changed) Saul into another man with another heart. One interesting observation for me is that a wind or a breath requires movement. If there is no movement, there is no wind, respiration nor spirit. This new birth (of becoming another man with another heart) points back to the beginning of the creation of man. [17]And the Lord formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (The Hebrew word for breathed means to blow, inflate.)This account in Genesis is the birth of man which was the result of God blowing breath (“a mighty rushing wind”) that animated this formed dust project, making it alive – a living soul. This heavenly breath/wind from Yahweh, Himself, raised this lifeless form into a living, breathing being. It became “another man”, the predecessor to Saul’s conversion into “another man” by the same heavenly breath/wind. In a sense, Saul was reborn. He was not just a better version of his old self, but scripture asserts that he was “another man”.

Often, instructions and guidance from the Lord comes in waiting as it did when Samuel instructed Saul to [18]wait for him at Gilgal for seven days. In our immediate-gratification society, waiting is usually not regarded as a preeminent value. The Hebrew word for another means to tarry, remain behind, loiter. In similar verbiage, Jesus commanded his disciples to [19]tarry in Jerusalem to be endued with power to be witnesses (prophesying). Additionally, all who had [20]previously known Saul were astounded of his conversion into that of a prophet just as the band of uneducated Galileans at Pentecost were speaking languages they knew not. Is this event in Saul’s life not a foreshadowing of Pentecost’s wind? The components of each story seem to converge, or at least, are concentric:

  1. A tarrying (waiting) – Saul waited 7 days, the disciples waited 10 days.
  2. A mighty wind blowing
  3. A significant change on the recipients of this Spirit/wind
  4. A birthing of a new man
  5. Prophesying by the recipient
  6. Witnesses were confounded by the evidence of this profound impact on the recipient(s)

SOMETHING SUPERNATURAL WAS HAPPENING!

  1. 1 Samuel 9:16-17

  2. 1 Samuel 10:1-3

  3. 1 Samuel 9:3

  4. 1 Samuel 18:8-11

  5. 1 Samuel 16:1

  6. 1 Samuel 9:1-2

  7. 1 Samuel 9:15

  8. 1 Samuel 9:21

  9. 1 Samuel 10:5

  10. 1 Samuel 10:6

  11. 1 Samuel 9:1

  12. 1 Samuel 10:7

  13. Colossians 3:23-24

  14. 1 Samuel 10:9

  15. This is exactly the same word used in verse 6, translated as “another man.”

  16. Acts 2:2

  17. Genesis 2:7

  18. 1 Samuel 10:8

  19. Luke 24:49

  20. 1 Samuel 10:11-12

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Ed Chinn says:

    Thanks, Mike. I appreciate your serious and focused approach to the Lord, the Bible, and the Church. You don’t take those things lightly and it shows in your writing.

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