04 Holy Spirit in the Old Testament: Judges & Kings

by | Sep 30, 2020 | 01 Podcasts, Holy Spirit

One of the main themes in the Old Testament regarding the Holy Spirit is that God empowers Israel’s leaders through His Spirit to bless the children of Israel and keep His covenant promises.

Passages: Isaiah 63:7-14; Judges 3:7-11; 1Samuel 16:13-14; Psalm 51.


We saw 2 themes in the first podcast: 1) The Holy Spirit is God’s agent of change; and 2) one of his most crucial works is the inner transformation of the hearts of believers. Without that inner change we cannot be saved.

In the second podcast, we saw the distinction between “universal” and “individual” works of the Spirit. The universal work of the Spirit is the work that the Holy Spirit does in all believers to give us faith.  The individual works of the Spirit are gifts and roles the Spirit gives one believer but not another.

In the third podcast, we made the distinction between understanding and revelation. Revelation is something no one has understood until God chose to reveal it to His messenger.  Revelation is an individual work of the Spirit, given to a few chosen individuals.

The universal work of the Spirit is understanding. Understanding is the receptivity to receive God’s message as wisdom given to all believers.

Today I want to begin exploring what the Old Testament teaches us about the Holy Spirit.


  • In Isaiah 63:7-14, we see this language about the Holy Spirit: But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit (Isa 63:10); Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit (Isa 63:11); Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest (Isa 63:14).
  • Isaiah is writing to those who will be captive in Babylon before the captivity has started. He is remembering the time when Moses led the people out of Egypt.
  • Isaiah tells us the Spirit of God was behind the miraculous events that took place during the ministry of Moses.


  • The author of judges selects 12 judges whose stories tell the same reoccurring cycle: 1) Israel sins; 2) God judges their sin by giving their enemies victory over them;  3) They suffer at the hands of cruel oppressors, until they cry out to God for relief; 4) God sends them a judge who delivers them from their oppressors. When that judge dies, the cycle starts all over again.
  • For example: Judges 3:7-11
  • Each time the cycle repeats the rebellion gets a worse and the judge is less honorable. Each cycle is a further a downward spiral.
  • With the judges we see language about the Spirit of God coming upon the judge to empower him to deliver the people.
  • For example: Judges 3:10; Judges 6:34; Judges 11:29; Judges 13:25; Judges 14:6; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14.
  • During this time of the judges, we see the Spirit of the Lord working in the judge to deliver the people from their oppressors. 
  • In an individual work, the Spirit comes upon God’s chosen deliverer to equip him to deliver the people. The Spirit of God is not portrayed as sanctifying the judge (i.e. the universal work of the Spirit giving saving faith).

Saul & David

  • 1Samuel 10:1-10: The Spirit of God came upon Saul when he was anointed King by the prophet Samuel.
  • Just like the warrior-judge, the Spirit comes upon Saul as King to equip him to be king (e.g 1Samuel 11:5-6).
  • 1Samuel 16: When Samuel anoints David as King, the Spirit leaves Saul and comes upon David (1Samuel 16:13-14).
  • The language used of David is the strongest up to this point: The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward (1Samuel 16:13).
  • In Psalm 15:10-12, David asks that God not punish him by removing the Holy Spirit from him. For God to remove the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51:11) is to remove the kingship from David, as he removed it from Saul. David is talking about the individual work of the Spirit that equips him as king. 
  • This distinction between universal and individual works of the Spirit helps untangle the question of whether King Saul was a believer. God removed from Saul the individual role of kingship empowered by the Spirit; Saul may or may not have had the universal work of the Spirit of saving faith. 


  • From Moses through the judges to the Kings, we see the Spirit of God coming upon a leader to give that leader the strength, wisdom, courage and/or military might to fulfill his role as deliverer or king. 
  • Sometimes we see the Spirit giving them raw physical power, as with Samson. 
  • Sometimes it is military victory and wisdom in battle as with Saul. 
  • Sometimes it is overtly miraculous acts of parting the Red Sea as with Moses.
  • Through His Spirit, God empowers Israel’s leaders to bless His people.

For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.

Next: 05 Holy Spirit in the Old Testament: Prophets

Previous: 03 Holy Spirit: Revelation vs Understanding

Series: Who is the Holy Spirit?

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