Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession.”
“When you arrive at Gibeah of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is located, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They will be playing a harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre, and they will be prophesying. At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person.”
(1 Samuel 10:1, 5-6)
When an Israelite king took office he was not only crowned, he was anointed. The coronation was the political act of establishing the king as ruler; the anointing was the religious act of making the king God’s representative to the people. A king was always anointed by a priest or prophet. The special anointing oil was a mixture of olive oil, myrrh, and other expensive spices. It was poured over the king’s head to symbolize the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God in his life. This anointing ceremony was to remind the king of his great responsibility to lead his people by God’s wisdom and not his own.
But how could Saul be so saturated with the Spirit and yet later do such evil things? Throughout the Old Testament, God’s Spirit “came upon” a person temporarily so that God could use him or her for great acts. This happened frequently to Israel’s judges when they were called by God to rescue the nation. This was not always a permanent, abiding influence but sometimes a temporary manifestation of the Holy Spirit. At times, in the Old Testament, the Spirit even came upon unbelievers to enable them to do unusual tasks. The Holy Spirit gave the person power to do what God asked, but it did not always produce the other fruits of the Spirit, such as self-control. Saul, in his early years as king, was a different person as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in him. But as Saul’s power grew, so did his pride. After awhile he refused to seek God; the Spirit left him; and his good attitude melted away.
God warns that “Pride goes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18), as evidenced by Saul. Ask God to keep you humble, focused on him and his work through you.