A Distressing Spirit– 1 Samuel 16

The first book of the New Testament begins with a reference to David, who was anointed king at God’s direction by the prophet Samuel.

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.  Matthew 1:1 (NKJV)

David was anointed as Israel’s second king by the prophet Samuel while still quite a young man, likely somewhere between the age of ten and fifteen. King Saul was still on the throne when Samuel anointed David as king, and in fact, Saul would reign for several more years afterwards. The anointing oil covering David represented the Spirit of God coming over his life, just as King Saul was experiencing the departure of God’s Spirit through his unfaithful heart and actions.

Immediately after the ceremony, David went right back to tending sheep, but God’s choice for Israel’s new king had been made and would last throughout eternity.  Circumstances would soon bring David right into the court of King Saul.

Without his heavenly covering, an evil spirit began to trouble Saul and to bring him distress, all happening with God’s permission. Saul’s ungodly choices had put him in a vulnerable position with these dark spiritual forces, and without turning back to God, there was no earthly remedy to save him.  God wants all of us to turn back to Him and may allow some trouble to come our way to encourage us, but in the end, the choice is ours to make.

God did bring Saul some relief from the distressing spirit through the music of David.  God had inspired Saul’s servants to suggest bringing David into the king’s court to play his comforting music on the lyre.  They believed that the Lord was with David, and this would cause the distressing spirit to depart Saul while David played soothing music.

23 And so it was, whenever the (evil) spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.  1 Samuel 16:23 (NKJV)

Evil spirits are not commonly mentioned in the Old Testament, but they are found there.  They are mentioned as being the forces behind idol worship, luring Israel away from the worship of God Most High to a degrading worship of idols that involved drunkenness and numerous other immoral practices.

17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded. 18 You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.  Deuteronomy 32:17-18 (ESV)

Later, when Jesus came, He would cast out many evil spirits as well as heal many serious diseases.  These were two separate types of bondage – one spiritual, the other physical – although in some cases the two may have been connected.

When we turn away from God to go our own way, we place ourselves in a vulnerable spiritual position.  We may subject ourselves to evil, distressing forces, situations, or experiences, and find that our resulting troubles pile up far beyond our ability to cope with them.  These may deeply impact our spiritual, emotional, and mental health, even our will to live.

There is hope.  Our merciful God is right there to reach out to.  When our spiritual problems are straightened out, our mental, physical, financial, relationship or other problems begin to be addressed, as well.  A new and healthy chapter of restoration in our lives can begin as we can enjoy walking in His marvelous light. As the apostle Paul writes:

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Ephesians 6:11-13 (NKJV)


What is your defense against the spiritual forces of darkness?

Father God, we call upon Jesus Christ, our strength against evil.  He is our Rock and strong tower, and we find shelter in the shadow of His wings. Help us to stay close to You and never leave Your side.  We are totally dependent upon You for blessing and protection. Help us to walk closer with You today and place a hedge of protection around us and our loved ones. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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