We left off with Samuel anointing Saul to be King over Israel
1 Samuel 10:9, As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart… 10) the Spirit of God was upon him in power…
Just a few chapters later…
1 Samuel 16:14, Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.
In the course of studying the Bible, we will come upon other such verses, which seem to contradict what we believe. We believe that no evil thing comes from God. One example:
James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”
So how are to understand 1 Samuel 16:14.
Several commentaries suggested that God allowed this evil spirit to come and trouble Saul.
Let’s look at Saul’s life during the period from his being anointed as king to the time this evil spirit was allowed to torment him. I think we will see some clues to help us understand 1 Samuel 16:14.
In 1 Samuel 13, the Philistines assembled to fight Israel. And they were very numerous. So much so, that the Hebrews were very fearful. Verse 7 says that “all the troops with him (Saul) were quaking with fear.”
Saul felt that having Samuel come and offer up burnt offerings to God would inspire his troops. However, Samuel tarried beyond the seven day period of time in which they expected him to come. So, in verse 9, “And Saul offered up the burnt offering.”
Samuel rebuked Saul, once he arrived, saying in verse 13, “You acted foolishly. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. (verse 14) But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people.”
In our next example, Saul’s army was again at battle with the Philistines. In 1 Samuel 14:24, Saul bound his people under an oath, “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!”
Somehow, Jonathan had failed to hear of this oath. He spotted a honeycomb and ate some honey. When the soldiers mentioned the oath, Jonathan said in verse 29, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey.” After the battle that day, the troops did eat of the spoils.
When Saul learned of this, they cast lots until it fell on Jonathan. In verse 44, Saul remarked, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan.” But the soldiers rose up against Saul and rescue Jonathan from death.
Then in our last example, Samuel told Saul the Lord had sent Saul and his army to attack the Amalekites. In 1 Samuel 15. In verse 3, Samuel is telling Saul that God wants him to “attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them put to death men, and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” However, in verse 9, we discover, “But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs.”
Samuel rebukes Saul. And Saul even defends himself. Verse 20, “I did obey the Lord. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag. 21, The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord.”
In Samuel’s reply, we see a wonderful truth from God. In verse 22, Samuel replied, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23, Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
In Saul’s life, we see the Cycle of Disobedience. Do we not see this in the following verses from the New Testament?
James 1:13-15; 13, When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14, but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15, Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
This is why we are instructed to “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10, 11.
So what we see is the effects of disobedience. Saul reaped what he had been sowing. The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
When the Spirit of the Lord departs from us, all good goes. When men grieve and quench the Spirit, by willful sin, He departs, and will not always strive. The consequence of this was that an evil spirit was permitted by God to trouble him. Those that drive the good Spirit away from themselves, do of course become prey to the evil spirit. If God and his grace do not rule us, sin and Satan will have possession of us. The devil, by the divine permission, troubled and terrified Saul.
We need not be disturbed when we come across verses of Scripture that seem to contradict our beliefs. Rather, let us remember who God is, and what He is saying across the numerous Scriptures throughout the Bible. What we are referring to are the major truths in the Bible. Resolving our confusion can be accomplished when we keep a panoramic view of the Scriptures. God’s is truth. He will not say one thing in one verse of Scripture, and say something different in another verse. God’s Word is trustworthy.
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May God speak to your heart! Bob Conar