Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead…
I. THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS NOT A MERE INFLUENCE, BUT A LIVING PRESENCE. It is taught throughout Scripture that God does not only bestow graces, but also comes personally into our souls (John 14:16, 17). This Divine presence may not be perceived by the senses, as in the visions of the dove (Matthew 3:16) and of the cloven tongues of fire (Acts 2:3). It need not give rise to any ecstasy or visible excitement, as in the case of the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 14:2). It may be without the immediate consciousness of the subject. But it will be proved by its effects.
II. THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD COMES UPON A MAN TO INSPIRE HIM FOR SERVICE. God does not simply inhabit a man as a temple; he infuses his life into the very being of the man; transforms, elevates: enlightens, strengthens. Thus Jephthah found the Spirit to be the source of his power for battle. God's Spirit is always the spring of the Christian's highest energies. It is foolish to attempt to do any good work without the aid that is given by the indwelling power of God.
III. THE SPECIAL FORM OF THE INFLUENCE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD WILL BE DETERMINED BY THE CAPACITIES OF THE RECIPIENT AND THE REQUIREMENTS OF HIS WORK. There is a variety of gifts.
1. God's Spirit affects us differently, according to our natural differences. To the thoughtful man he is a spirit of understanding. To him who hungers and thirsts after righteousness he is a spirit of holiness. To the sympathiser, the comforting friend, he is a spirit of love. To the active worker he is a spirit of power.
2. God's Spirit also affects us differently according to the needs of the times. God does not waste his influence; he adapts it to requirements. Therefore we must not think that his Spirit is less with us than with men of old because the manifestation is different, nor that he is less with those who have not the form of spiritual influence which we esteem most than with those who possess it (1 Corinthians 12:6).
IV. THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD DOES NOT ANNIHILATE THE INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERS OF MEN. Jephthah retains his natural characteristics, and still shows them.
1. God's Spirit does not supersede natural talent, but enlightens, purifies, and strengthens.
2. God's Spirit does not destroy human weakness. Jephthah has the Spirit of the Lord, yet he may be rash and may err. The spirit of wisdom does not necessarily accompany the spirit of strength. We may have the presence of the Spirit, and yet not be filled with the Spirit, so that human weakness may linger by the side of Divine power. - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.