Friday, August 2, 2019

The Insanity of Saul

"Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him" (1 Samuel 16:14).

After Saul’s third rebellion against the Lord, God told Samuel to anoint someone else king. Leading him to the house of Jesse, the LORD commanded Samuel to anoint David as the future king of Israel. “From that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power” (1 Samuel 16:13). This is the same spiritual empowering that the judges of Israel had received in previous centuries (Judges 3:10; 6:34; 14:6; etc.) and which Saul had earlier received (1 Samuel 10:10).

As soon as the Spirit came upon David, He left Saul. Without the guiding work of the Holy Spirit, Saul’s rule over Israel deteriorated swiftly. He had neither the Spirit to direct him, nor Samuel to speak God’s will to him. Saul was left alone to guide the state he ruled. The people of Israel then, indeed had a king “like all the other nations.” Like other nations, in Israel there was no mercy and worse, no justice. Israel would not be a nation set apart until the coming of the promised righteous ruler.

The text in 1 Samuel 16:14 continues by saying that an evil spirit from the Lord tormented Saul. Even the demonic world is under God’s supreme authority. If God turns someone over to demons it is fit punishment for his sins. The church is commanded to turn impenitent sinners over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh, that their souls may be saved (1 Corinthians 5:5). God never creates fresh sin in people, but He can and does turn people over to their own sin.

Once again the context of this passage has more to do with Saul’s official position than it does with his personal salvation. Saul’s insanity made him unfit to rule the nation. It provoked a national crisis. At this point, Saul’s counselors suggested that he find a musical therapist whose playing would soothe the king’s spirit. In the providence of God it was David who was brought to be Saul’s therapist. When David played, the evil spirit left Saul. Thus, we see that the stability and government of the nation was in this subtle way already in the hands of David.

David knew he was destined to become king, but he did not undermine Saul. Instead, he applied all his skills in order to help Saul rule well. How do we respond to rulers that have lost our respect—in government, church, and office? Can you serve with the grace of David, even though under duress?