Evil Spirits from God
1 Samuel 19:8-10 (8) And there was war again: and David went out, and fought with the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they fled from him. (9) And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. (10) And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night. Our text today raises an interesting doctrinal question. We have here the mention of an "...evil spirit from the LORD..." (v.9), which we saw earlier (1SAM 16:14-23). How can this be? Is God actually as the Persian dualists or others have envisioned: a deity of good and evil, a "force" with a dark side? Is not the God of the Bible "...of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (HAB 1:13)? Do we not read that "...God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1JO 1:5), that He is "...the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (JAM 1:17) and that "...God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man" (JAM 1:13)? How then can there be an evil spirit from the LORD? The answer lies in an understanding of the sovereign rule which God holds over all of His creation, including the unseen powers of heaven and earth and how that "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (PRO 16:4). The devil and his horde are ever ambitious to destroy (JOH 10:10 c/w REV 9:11) but they can do no more than God allows. When Satan sought to destroy Job, he did not have a free hand to do so. What he did to Job he did with permission (JOB 1:6-12; 2:1-7) and could go no further than permitted. In effect, God said to Satan, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed" (JOB 38:11). It was Satan's design to destroy Job and God gave him a tethered power over Job that Job might learn that God is the potter, man the clay and the clay ought not to say to the Potter, "...Why hast thou made me thus" (ROM 9:20)? Thus, "an evil spirit from the LORD" went forth to Job. Another example of this is found in the account of God's judgments upon wicked King Ahab, of whom the Spirit said, "But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD..." (1KI 21:25). When God executed judgment upon Ahab, He did so by the persuasion of false prophets who gave Ahab assurance that he would be victorious in battle against the Syrians (1KI 22:6). God's true prophet, Micaiah, revealed the behind-the-scenes action which would precipitate Ahab's fall: "And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee" (1KI 22:19-23). Thus, an "evil spirit from the LORD" went forth to fill a false prophet with false prophecy to fill Ahab's hardened heart with false hope (Pat Robertson was not available but his spirit was). Christians do well to humble themselves to the breaking off of sin in their lives, lest an ambitious evil spirit looking for work be sent on a morbid errand. Rebellion and rashness brought such an one to Saul. Not having a love of truth can do likewise and "for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2TH 2:10-12).