1 Chronicles 12:8-18 (Part 1) – A Question of The Holy Spirit

Posted: March 12, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 12:8-18 (Part 1 of 2)

Warriors Join David

Have you ever had one of those moments that you didn’t know where those words came from when speaking to a friend who needed those words? Have you ever just been given the urge to check on a friend that you haven’t checked on in a while? Then, you find out that there was something going on in their lives that you were able to help them with. Have you ever been writing about a passage in the Bible and then you just have this amazing moment of clarity of (1) the essential truth of the passage and (2) particularly, how that applies to our lives today. You get consumed and are in a zone when you are writing or journaling about it?

Those are the moments of true Holy Spirit inspiration. Does that mean that you do not have the Holy Spirit in you in those non-“in the zone” moments? No. It just means that there are times that the Holy Spirit really gets your attention and gives you special skill or special understanding or a special sense about something. Once we accept Christ as our Savior, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and He never departs from us. However, there are moments when the Holy Spirit just rattles our cage more so than at other times. You know those times, don’t you? Those special clarity moments. Those particularly moving worship service moments. Those intercession moments in another person’s life that really needed it. Those moments when a Bible passage just comes alive to you more than it ever has and it has a changing and profound effect on your life. Those moments when you were able to do something that you never thought you could do. Those out of my comfort zone moments when the Holy Spirit just takes over and later you go – whoooaaaa!, where did that come from? Those are the special anointing moments that we all have as believers but it does not mean that the Holy Spirit is not acting and indwelling in our lives in all the other times. That’s just not the nature of salvation. That’s just not the nature of what Jesus did for us when we accepted Him as our Savior. That’s not consistent with the eternal nature of the triune God.

The reason I bring this up in today’s blog is there is a phrase here in this passage that you often see in the Old Testament when it says, that the Holy Spirit “came upon” a person as if the Holy Spirit was not indwelt in their lives as believers? This is an old question to which there are contradictory answers when you read various sources. Thus, I wanted to discuss this issue in light of that phrase in our passage today, 1 Chronicles 12:8-18. Let’s read it now:

8 Some brave and experienced warriors from the tribe of Gad also defected to David while he was at the stronghold in the wilderness. They were expert with both shield and spear, as fierce as lions and as swift as deer on the mountains.


Ezer was their leader.

Obadiah was second.

Eliab was third.


Mishmannah was fourth.

Jeremiah was fifth.


Attai was sixth.

Eliel was seventh.


Johanan was eighth.

Elzabad was ninth.


Jeremiah was tenth.

Macbannai was eleventh.

14 These warriors from Gad were army commanders. The weakest among them could take on a hundred regular troops, and the strongest could take on a thousand! 15 These were the men who crossed the Jordan River during its seasonal flooding at the beginning of the year and drove out all the people living in the lowlands on both the east and west banks.

16 Others from Benjamin and Judah came to David at the stronghold. 17 David went out to meet them and said, “If you have come in peace to help me, we are friends. But if you have come to betray me to my enemies when I am innocent, then may the God of our ancestors see it and punish you.”

18 Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, the leader of the Thirty, and he said,

“We are yours, David!

    We are on your side, son of Jesse.

Peace and prosperity be with you,

    and success to all who help you,

    for your God is the one who helps you.”

So David let them join him, and he made them officers over his troops.

In this passage, we see that this passage states that the Holy Spirit “came upon” Amasai and it brings up a question that is a debate among biblical scholars and among us regular avid Bible readers. There is this debate as to whether the Holy Spirit indwelled people prior to Pentecost (when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon His disciples). There are those who believe the Holy Spirit did not work in the same manner during the Old Testament age as He does in the New Testament age beginning at Pentecost. Although it has been the same Holy Spirit all along, His methods have changed from age to age. They contend that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was not universal to every believer, but was available only to certain believers. It is possible that the references to the Holy Spirit being upon Joshua and others refer to a “special anointing” and not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The reason for holding this view is because it is difficult to see how anyone could have entered a right relationship with God without the Holy Spirit indwelling them. The Bible teaches that we all have a sinful nature and need to be saved from our sins. If the Holy Spirit did not indwell individuals during the Old Testament period, how were they saved and how did they lead a godly life? It seems impossible for them to be able to do so without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

According to Jesus, everyone must have a spiritual rebirth to enter God’s kingdom. Therefore, for Jesus to have said that (and his interview with Nicodemus would have been before Pentecost), it must have always been eternally true and not just in the New Testament era. Furthermore, no one can serve God in his own strength. It seems more consistent to say that the Holy Spirit indwelt everyone who believed in the promises of God. Further, it seems more consistent with the eternal nature of God to say that there has eternally been the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within those who believe in and have submitted their lives to God (in his eternal triune form, The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit). What is true of God in the New Testament era must also be true of God in all eras for all time.

However, it is obvious from the Old Testament that the Holy Spirit gave special ability to certain individuals as we see in Exodus 31:3, for example:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.”

So, it may be the better conclusion that the Old Testament does not give a comprehensive picture about the work of the Holy Spirit during the Old Testament period. It seems more plausible that the leaving of the Holy Spirit was the leaving of the Spirit’s anointing rather than His indwelling. Thus, during the Old Testament period the Holy Spirit gave some believers special skills to perform certain tasks, just as He did and does in the New Testament era.

This is a difficult question because there seems to be a marked difference in the description of the workings of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament vs. the New Testament. But then I wrestle with the fact that God has eternal and unchanging qualities. Thus, what is true about him now is and was true about him in all ages past. Saying that God did not indwell true believers in God (and thus Jesus Christ, because of the eternal triune nature of God) in the Old Testament means that they did not need the ongoing sharpening and daily convictions of the Holy Spirit as we do now. Thus, were the Old Testament believers less depraved than us? I find that hard to believe, especially when you read about the stuff that was going on in the Old Testament era – they were just as messed up or even more so than we are today. Thus, the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives daily through indwelling seems to be a necessity, not just periodic visitations. Could anything less than or other than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit keep a believer believing, repenting, hoping, obeying, etc.?

Of course, this is my opinion and you may draw another conclusion and this issue is not an essential feature of the faith that a person has to buy off on when they are responding to the call of the spirit to accept Christ as their Savior. So, it’s one of those debates among believers after they have had a few years in as believers. It’s a finer point kind of thing.

But bottom line is that we need the Holy Spirit in us. Without Him, we would never mature as believers. We would never recognize our sins as sins. We would never repent of sins because they would never be brought to our attention. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives indwelt is essential to making us holy enough, along with the person and work of Jesus Christ, despite our sin nature to allow us to be in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit makes holy. The Holy Spirit spends our lifetime sanctifying us as well – making us more and more like Christ every day. We need the Holy Spirit every day. But we also need those times were the Holy Spirit really jogs our heart, mind, and soul and gives us that extra special something that is needed in a special moment for us or for someone in our sphere of influence. In those cases, those extraspecial moments, He comes upon us and consumes us to give us that extra special ummph that is needed for that special moment.

Amen and Amen.

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