THEN AN EVIL SPIRIT FROM THE LORD CAME UPON SAUL, AS HE SAT IN HIS HOUSE WITH HIS SPEAR IN HIS HAND, WHILE DAVID WAS PLAYING MUSIC. (1 SAM 19:9)
This very dicey scripture like many others rather reminds us of not just the sovereignty of God but also the fact that anything that happens can only happen if God allows it! One can easily be tempted to say that God our Father also forces or releases evil on humanity by His imposed discretion. However, a close study of scripture will tell us otherwise. To properly interpret this text, we have to consider the roles of both God and the devil in the experiences of man. First, we must establish that God is light and in Him is no darkness as John rightly said (1John 1:5). Therefore, God is not the source of evil. If that is the case then how does one interpret this… “Then an evil spirit FROM the Lord”.
It is simple; God allows or permits both good and evil per his discretion and our prayers. A typical example is the case of Job. “The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (Job1:12). Note that just as the evil spirit left from the presence of God to Job, so also did the evil spirit that tormented Saul come from God’s presence. It is clear that even before tormenting Saul, the evil spirit as in the case of Job had to seek permission from the Lord before tormenting the Lord’s anointed.
In Genesis we see God warning Cain about the devil’s intention to push him to sin, “…sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:6). God is constantly playing his role in allowing us to go through certain challenges so that our victory would build us up spiritually and be to His glory. Another example is Peter in Luke 22:31…”Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” One can clearly see Jesus the Immanuel (GOD with us) playing the role of an intercessor, in seeming futuristic persecution to be experienced by Peter for which permission was sought of by the Devil and granted by God though not latter’s will to have Peter fall. God is seated on His throne ruling over the affairs of men, the reason every evil spirit would have to come from His presence whether having obtained a pass to persecuted the believer or not. It is not to mean that He God is the source but rather that He God permits it; for in our overcoming of any trial is His Glory.
Finally, God is in the constant business to change the hearts of men through messengers with His message. Saul had Samuel but never listened to Him (1 Sam 15:22-26). As a matter of fact, Saul even hardened his heart the more he was corrected. That becomes a problem! When we constantly pay the deaf ears to Gods’ instructions, He allows us to face the consequences of our rebellion, at worst, being severely separated from Him. In Rom 1:21-26,28 we clearly see how God allows people who over a long period disobey him to perish in their ignorance and arrogance. “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done” (Rom 1: 28).
In other not to bore you too much writing, we can conclude that God is not the source of the evil spirit that tormented Saul, however, God allows from His throne what should happen and what should not. For the believer, God’s will is that you overcome the trial thereby grow spiritually and bring him Glory. Read 1 Cor.10:13 and James 1:2-4, 12-15.
Written by Charles Okoro