Questions From Readers
Jehovah God, by means of his holy spirit, commissioned his prophets. With reference to himself, the prophet Micah said: “I myself have become full of power, with the spirit of Jehovah, and of justice and mightiness, in order to tell to Jacob his revolt and to Israel his sin.” (Mic. 3:8) However, this evidently does not mean that Micah and other prophets continually spoke under inspiration. Rather, at certain times God’s spirit ‘came upon them,’ revealing the messages to be announced. This had a stirring effect upon the prophets, impelling them to speak. As the prophet Jeremiah said: “I got tired of holding in, and I was unable to endure it.”—Jer. 20:9.
When God’s spirit came upon them to ‘fill them with power,’ not only did the prophets do things that were out of the ordinary, but also their expression and manner must have reflected the intensity of their feeling. Take our own case. We may hear some very important news, perhaps joyful, perhaps disturbing. Is it not true that often before we can tell another that news he will ask, ‘Why are you acting or looking so different?’
It may, therefore, be that the expression ‘behaving like a prophet’ alludes to the unusual way in which the prophets expressed or conducted themselves. Their total concentration and zealous boldness in carrying out their commission on occasion caused their behavior to appear strange, even irrational, to others. For example, the prophet who anointed Jehu as king appeared to be crazy to the military chiefs. But, on realizing that the man was a prophet, the chiefs accepted his message with full seriousness.—2 Ki. 9:1-13.
At 1 Samuel 18:10 we read that Saul ‘behaved like a prophet’ while David was playing on the harp. Not that Saul began to utter prophecies, but he showed a physical disturbance like that of a prophet just prior to prophesying or when prophesying. While in that unusual, disturbed state, Saul twice hurled a spear at David.—1 Sam. 18:11.
Later, at the time King Saul sent messengers to seize David at Naioth, these messengers began ‘behaving like prophets.’ They apparently conducted themselves in a manner like that of prophets just before or during their prophesying. It appears that God’s spirit operated toward these messengers in such a way that they completely forgot the purpose of their mission.—1 Sam. 19:20, 21.
When Saul afterward decided to go personally in pursuit of David, he was caused to ‘behave like a prophet.’ While ‘behaving like a prophet,’ Saul stripped off his garments and lay “naked all that day and all that night,” during which time David evidently made his escape. (1 Sam. 19:22–20:1) Does this mean that the prophets frequently went naked? No, for there are only two instances of prophets appearing naked. These were Isaiah and Micah, and they went naked for a definite purpose, to represent some facet of their respective prophecies. (Isa. 20:2-4; Mic. 1:8-11) The reason for Saul’s nakedness is not stated. It could have been to show that he was a mere man, divested of his royal garments and impotent against Jehovah’s own regal authority and power. He could not hope to succeed in anything that was contrary to God’s purpose respecting David.