Now the spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord began to terrify him.
I Samuel 16:14 (TANAKH)
I kind of feel sorry for Saul. It seems that from the beginning things did not go smoothly for him. He’s found in the midst of his search for missing sheep, he’s not sure why he would be chosen to the point of hiding when the lot fell on him, and time and time again he makes dumb mistakes that end up costing him the kingdom.
Then the spirit of the Lord leaves him . . . in its place another spirit of the Lord, this time an evil one.
This little detail caught my attention. How can this “evil spirit” be from the Lord?
Scripture tells us that this “evil spirit” made Saul become angry and sad. Only well played instruments would soothe this bad mood.
Maybe the same spirit that could have guided Saul into faithful leadership was now causing Saul to be down, depressed, and angry. It makes sense that those who watched him saw this as a different spirit, I don’t think it was.
It is easy to become moody when we are not walking in ways that are life giving. We can’t seem to find comfort in anything, everything is a problem, life seems like no life at all. Everyone around seems to be happy, successful, and accomplished. Our sadness tricks us into believing that something is out to get us, some kind of conspiracy is at work here!
There is no such thing as a conspiracy. Our own actions, decisions, and indecision have paved the path to where we are. In many cases, like in Saul’s, is no one’s fault, except our own. Now our regrets become the evil spirits that haunt us and might guide us to even worst decisions in the long run.
Saul could have chosen to accept God’s decision and he probably would have been a great king. Instead he allowed his regrets and jealousy get the best of him. Once again the biblical story acts as a mirror for all us and its good to know that its portrait of the human condition is timeless.
Then again, maybe I’m letting God off the hook to easily and the biblical writers had it right, it was an EVIL spirit from the Lord . . .