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Poole on 1 Samuel 19:22-24: The Ecstatic Rapture of Saul!

Verse 22:[1] Then went he also to Ramah, and came to a great well that is in Sechu: and he asked and said, Where are Samuel and David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah.


Where are Samuel and David? for, his messengers not returning, he knew not exactly where they were.


Verse 23:[2] And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and (1 Sam. 10:10) the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah.


[And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, וַתְּהִי֩ עָלָ֙יו גַּם־ה֜וּא ר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֗ים] And was upon him also that (or, the same [Dutch]) Spirit of God (Montanus). And remained upon him, even him, the Spirit, etc. (Jonathan). He entered him, even him, etc. (Junius and Tremellius).


The Spirit of God was upon him also; it came upon him in the way; whereas it came not upon his messengers till they came to the place; whereby God would convince Saul of the vanity of all his designs against David, and that in them he fought against God himself.


[And he was walking, advancing, and was prophesying, etc.,וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ הָלוֹךְ֙ וַיִּתְנַבֵּ֔א וגו״] And he went, walking, and he prophesied, etc. (Montanus). The sense: He approached decorously and modestly, and was prophesying, etc. (Osiander). Proceeding ceaselessly, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). God sometimes granted the gift of prophecy to the impious also, like Balaam. See Matthew 7:22 (Grotius).


Verse 24:[3] (Is. 20:2) And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down (Heb. fell;[4] Num. 24:4[5]) (Mic. 1:8; see 2 Sam. 6:14, 20) naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, (1 Sam. 10:11) Is Saul also among the prophets?


[And he also stripped himself, etc.] That is, putting off his military habit, just as those previously sent by him had done, so that he might compose himself in the appearance of a prophet (Piscator out of Junius). Two things that did not happen to the lictors are signified to have happened to Saul: 1. that he prophesied before he saw the Prophets; 2. that he stripped himself of his Royal ornaments, which the lictors did not do. Whereby God signified how the lictors were not to be reprehended, because they did not fulfill the business committed to them by Saul, against whom he vehemently raged (Sanchez).


His clothes, to wit, his military or royal garments; which he did, either that he might suit himself and his habit to the rest of the company; or because his mind being altogether taken up with Divine things, he did not understand or heed what he did. Also: this implies that the messengers which he sent, who probably were military persons, had done so before him.


[Before Samuel] Nevertheless, Samuel did not go to see, nor approach, him; neither did he think it fitting to address him; just as he had previously said, that he was not going to see him, etc. (Vatablus). Saul did indeed prophesy, yet he did not address Samuel; perhaps he did not recognize him (Mariana).


Prophesied before Samuel: this doth not contradict 1 Samuel 15:35, where it is said that Samuel came no more to see Saul; for here Saul goes to Samuel, and that not with design to see him, but to surprise David. In like manner; as the rest of the prophets there did.


[And he fell] That is, he passed from the state of reason; Numbers 24:4 (Grotius out of Junius, Piscator, similarly Menochius). And he fell, understanding, upon the earth: as also the others did, who were seized and possessed by that divine Spirit: for the exterior senses were not performing their functions (Vatablus).


Lay down; Hebrew, fell, to wit, down upon the earth; for his mind being in an ecstasy, he had not the use of his senses or motion, as he Numbers 24:4; God so ordering it, that David might have an opportunity to escape.



[Naked] Some say that he cast aside all his garments: and rightly. For the Spirit of God withdraws all shame from those that He possesses, so that they might freely proclaim the praises of God without the fear of anything (Vatablus, Ibn Ezra[6] in Sanchez). He had better said, that nothing pertaining to divine praise ought to be a shame to anyone (Sanchez). When the Prophets were being touched by the Spirit of God, they were frequently losing the use of their senses. Whence they cast aside their garments and fell to the earth, not being able to stand on their feet on account of the internal speech of God. Some were like unto those sleeping, others unto those dead; others were speaking by the Spirit of God (Munster). Yet most understand him only as stripped of his upper and outermost garments (Malvenda, thus Sanchez, Junius, Piscator, Lyra, Menochius, Tigurinus, Lapide, Martyr). Naked, in his undergraduate, as in Isaiah 20:2. See concerning this sort of speech in John 21:7 (Grotius). Thus Noah is said to be laid bare, Genesis 9, because he was naked on that side, etc: and Peter was naked, John 21, although at that time he was wearing interior garments, which the word ἐπενδύτη, outer garment,[7] teaches, which signifies the garment that is worn over others: and and Isaiah is said to be naked in Isaiah 20, not simply (as it is evident; 1. Because then the description, barefoot, would have been added in vain: 2. Because that Prophetic habit was like unto the habit of captives. But Captives were not so much nude, as poorly clothed, or dressed in very short tunics, and suitable for service), but because he cast aside his prophet’s garment. So also Seneca, Concerning Benefits[8] 5:13, …one who sees a man poorly clothed, and dressed in rags, says that he saw him naked (Sanchez). Thus David, in 2 Samuel 6:20, is said to have danced naked before the Ark, although he was dressed in a linen Ephod[9] (Sanchez), that is, because he was stripped of his royal cloak (Tirinus). Thus the Nile is called dried, Isaiah 19, when it has less water; and he is said to be fasting, who has not eaten enough, Acts 27 (Sanchez).


Naked, that is, stripped of his upper garments, as was said before, and as the word naked is oft used, as Isaiah 20:2; Micah 1:8. See also 2 Samuel 6:20; John 21:7. And it is here repeated to signify how long he lay in that posture.


[He fell down all day and night] He says this, either because after the manner of one worshipping he was often falling prostrate to the ground, for the sake of veneration and honor, as those prophesying were wont to do (Tirinus out of Sanchez); or rather because he was destitute of his strength and senses (Sanchez out of Vatablus). Moreover, when David saw that Saul had come, he immediately put himself to flight; but Saul continues a whole day and night in prophesying, lest anything should happen to David in the delay (Martyr).


All that day and all that night; so God kept him as it were in chains, till David was got out of his reach.


[Is Saul also among the Prophets?] It is a Proverb, concerning one that beyond expectation, or, by the Spirit of God, is impelled to do something, as in 1 Samuel 10:12; or is divinely restrained from applying his own effort; which example confirms, Numbers 23; 24; Acts 9 (Piscator out of Junius). This proverb pertains to the high praise of the power of God, when we wish to show that He does many things beyond the opinion of men. It was said of a matter that at first glance appeared to be absurd: that is to say, Did not Saul prophesy, and was he not seized by the Spirit of God, when he wished to destroy the Prophets? that is to say, he prophesied. Or, was Saul a Prophet, when he prophesied before Samuel in Ramah (Vatablus).


[Is Saul also, etc.?] That is to say, it is a thing astonishing and like unto a wonder (Menochius). The same was said of Saul in 1 Samuel 10, but there the strangeness, but here the contrarity, was the reason and cause of the proverb. For all were marveling that Saul, so hostile and ill disposed to David, was thus changed (Lapide).


Is Saul also among the prophets? The same proverb which was taken up upon a like occasion, 1 Samuel 10:12, is here remembered and revived upon this new occasion, as an evidence of God’s wonderful care over David; he made Saul in some sort a prophet, that he might make David a king.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֙לֶךְ גַּם־ה֜וּא הָרָמָ֗תָה וַיָּבֹא֙ עַד־בּ֤וֹר הַגָּדוֹל֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּשֶּׂ֔כוּ וַיִּשְׁאַ֣ל וַיֹּ֔אמֶר אֵיפֹ֥ה שְׁמוּאֵ֖ל וְדָוִ֑ד וַיֹּ֕אמֶר הִנֵּ֖ה בְּנְוָיֹ֥ת בָּרָמָֽה׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ שָׁ֔ם אֶל־נְוָיֹ֭ת בָּרָמָ֑ה וַתְּהִי֩ עָלָ֙יו גַּם־ה֜וּא ר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֗ים וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ הָלוֹךְ֙ וַיִּתְנַבֵּ֔א עַד־בֹּא֖וֹ בְּנְוָיֹ֥ת בָּרָמָֽה׃ [3] Hebrew: וַיִּפְשַׁ֙ט גַּם־ה֜וּא בְּגָדָ֗יו וַיִּתְנַבֵּ֤א גַם־הוּא֙ לִפְנֵ֣י שְׁמוּאֵ֔ל וַיִּפֹּ֣ל עָרֹ֔ם כָּל־הַיּ֥וֹם הַה֖וּא וְכָל־הַלָּ֑יְלָה עַל־כֵּן֙ יֹֽאמְר֔וּ הֲגַ֥ם שָׁא֖וּל בַּנְּבִיאִֽם׃ [4] Hebrew: וַיִּפֹּל. [5] Numbers 24:4: “He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling (נֹפֵל) into a trance, but having his eyes open…” [6] Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1089-1164) was a renowned Spanish Rabbi. At the heart of his work is his commentary on the Hebrew Bible. He commented on most of the books, and his exegesis manifests a commitment to the literal sense of the text, even at the expense of traditional interpretations. [7] John 21:7: “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat (τὸν ἐπενδύτην) unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.” [8]De Beneficiis. [9] Verse 14.

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