Utter Humiliation

1 Samuel 19:11-24
11Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped. 13Michal took an image and laid it on the bed and put a pillow of goats’ hair at its head and covered it with the clothes. 14And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15Then Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” 16And when the messengers came in, behold, the image was in the bed, with the pillow of goats’ hair at its head. 17Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me thus and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go. Why should I kill you?’” 18Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth. 19And it was told Saul, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” 20Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 21When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. 22Then he himself went to Ramah and came to the great well that is in Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And one said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” 23And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

This story could fall under the category of “weird” activities in the Bible. There are two things that happen in rather rapid succession here. First, David is aided by his wife, Michal (also Saul’s daughter) to escape Saul’s plan to kill David the very next day. Apparently, David had been given a house which possibly belonged to Michal, and was fairly close to where Saul lived. Saul sends men to bring David to him immediately. Saul no longer hides his intentions at all – he is going to kill David himself. Michal devises a ruse to keep the men from taking David by creating a dummy in his bed and declaring that he is sick. In the meantime, she helps David escape out of the window. Once Saul discovers the deception, he turns on Michal. Now two of his children have come to David’s aid. David runs to Samuel, who is quite old at this point, and spends time with him.

Then comes this time of “prophesying” by just about everyone. Three batches of armed soldiers fall to the ground and prophesy. I’m not quite certain what that “prophesying” is, exactly. I doubt if it is foretelling the future, but it may be more like ecstatic worship. God doesn’t kill these soldiers, but I think  He does cause them to worship Him. Finally, Saul comes himself, which seems to be the point of the exercise. He not only falls down in worship, he strips himself naked along the way.

God was symbolically stripping the king of his royal garments in anticipation of Saul’s loss of the kingdom. The author notes that Saul’s prophesying led to the saying “is also Saul among the prophets?”. The author had noted the same aphorism at the beginning of Saul’s reign, when Saul prophesied after his anointing as he was going home. These two incidents form bookends on Saul’s reign. He prophesied at the beginning of his reign as God’s chosen king. Now he prophesied in shame as God stripped him of his dignity, along with stripping him of the kingdom. In the beginning God changed Saul’s heart as he assumed the throne. Now Saul had changed his own heart into one with murderous intent that would cause him to pursue David doggedly despite the divine warnings of how his life of willful disobedience would end.
Steinmann, A. E. ©2016. 1 Samuel. (p. 378). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.

Saul’s attempt to kill David is once again thwarted, because God’s will is not thwarted. Saul is utterly humiliated at this point and really because of his own hatred and pride. His heart is hard and he and chosen to walk away from God.