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For many years I wondered what this evil spirit that the Bible speaks of, that God sent upon King Saul, might be.

At that time I was young in my faith and despite my own research I had not found an answer. As I had not had any answers from the elders of the local church to which I belonged at that time, I ended up burying this passage deep in my memory without understanding it. I almost pretended not to know that God might have sent an evil spirit upon a human being. It was a stupid human reaction, but I had no explanation at the time.

It wasn't until many years later, when I began to study the Bible more deeply through the LVBN ministry that I wanted to know. I didn't want to leave a passage out, not knowing if God could have used a demon for example. I knew that God did not do this, but I could not explain it in this passage.

This passage is found in the first book of Samuel, where very few teachers risk venturing, often for lack of knowledge on the subject.

So today we are going to see what this passage means, and whether God really used a demon, through this evil spirit, to torment King Saul.

1 Samuel 16:14-23   Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.” So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.” One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.” Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul. David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.” Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

This story may indeed sound rather disturbing. It would seem at first glance that God withdrew His Spirit from the person of Saul, and the text tells us that another evil spirit from God came to torment King Saul.

The first thing we notice is that the word 'evil' is not present in the original text. This word has been added by the translators. Often, and depending on the version, this word is written in square brackets or in italics to remind the reader that it is not part of the original text. But unfortunately not all translations specify this.

However, some may say to me: "But Franck, even if this spirit is not evil, the text is clear in the sense that this spirit is tormenting Saul”. To this I would say that you are quite right, this spirit was having quite a negative impact on the person of Saul. Nevertheless, I think it is important to point out that the word "evil" is an addition of translators to the text.

God does not have evil spirits in His service, which is a fact. Nor does God use demons to do His dirty work for Him. The Bible shows us that God first removed His Spirit from the person of Saul.

1 Samuel 15:26-29 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!” As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

1 Samuel 16:1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

Saul lost the kingship because of the compromises he made with God. This cost him his throne. Therefore God, in taking the kingship away from Saul, took His Spirit away from him.

Then another spirit, which was an angelic spirit from God was sent upon Saul.

There was absolutely nothing evil about this spirit. This angel of God was showing up in Saul's life because of his bad attitude in the compromises. This angel of God was there as part of a judgment that Saul had brought upon himself by disobeying God's Law. Of course this sort of thing could not happen nowadays, Jesus having taken upon Himself the sin of the world.

However, Saul, by his disobedience, drew upon himself this angel of God who showed him all that he had lost: his throne, his position as king, and surely his eternity (this last point of eternity being pure speculation on my part).

This spirit was not speaking evil, but only the truth, but it was because Saul was in a wrong way of thinking, causing wrong attitudes, that this angel was reminding him of all that he himself had chosen to give up, and thus tormenting him.

Saul had only the result of his own choices. He preferred to compromise with God, repeatedly preferring to please the people rather than do what God had commanded him to do for the people. Saul was not consistent in his decisions. He had several chances to get his act together, but each time he fell back into his ways and his bad choices.

1 Samuel 15:24  Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them.

Therefore Saul, by the mentality he had chosen to adopt, put himself in a position where everything this angel showed him tormented him. He himself drew a curse of God's Law upon his person.

When Saul's servants realised what was happening they wanted to appease their master Saul by finding for him someone who would have deep praise for God. And that is why when David played and praised God, Saul was appeased, because the praise made him forget for a moment all that he had lost. But as soon as David stopped praising God in music, thoughts returned to Saul's mind through this angel who reminded him of the sad truth. And it was this consciousness that tormented him.  The original word translated as "tormented" gives the notion of being seized with terror, being terrified, worried.

Cet ange n’était donc pas un mauvais esprit, mais tout simplement un esprit de Dieu qui était sur Saül, afin qu’il n’oublie pas tout ce qu’il avait loupé, raté et gâché par sa désobéissance à Dieu et sa crainte du peuple, alors qu’il était justement au service de Dieu et du peuple d’Israël. Ceci était une conséquence de la Loi de Dieu qui s’appliquait sur Saül.  

Dieu est fidèle à Lui-même, Il ne se sert pas de satan ni d’aucun démon pour faire le mal. Dans cette période de la Loi, Dieu appliquait la Loi à la lettre, et tous ceux qui la transgressaient en subissaient les conséquences. Mais personne n’était pris au dépourvu, Dieu est amour et sera toujours amour. Ce sont les humains qui dans ce temps de la Loi choisissaient de désobéir ou pas, malgré les multiples avertissements de Dieu.



Bye for now...