1st Samuel 16:14 says, “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.” This verse has perplexed many believers, for on the surface it seems that God is the source of “evil spirits.” It is clear from Scripture that an evil spirit is none other than a demon, so we must ask, “How can a demon, which is a fallen angel in rebellion against God, come from God?”

The answer is quite simple, God ALLOWED an evil spirit to trouble Saul, but the evil spirit was acting on his own; that is, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do, which was to wreak havoc among the human race. If you were to read chapter 15 you would see that King Saul had rebelled against God. Because of Saul’s disobedience, God withdrew the Holy Spirit and allowed an evil spirit to take His place. In other words God was punishing Saul and in His sovereignty He allowed an evil spirit to accomplish His purposes (even though the evil spirit gladly participated in this act).

We have another example of this in 2nd Chronicles 18:19-22: “And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth—Gilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner. Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go out, and be a LYING SPIRIT in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt prevail: go out, and do even so. Now therefore, behold, THE LORD HATH PUT A LYING SPIRIT IN THE MOUTH OF THESE THY PROPHETS, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.” King Ahab, like King Saul, was a wicked king in rebellion against God. God determined that he would be killed in battle for his disobedience and so He ALLOWED an evil spirit to “entice him” to go into battle. Again, the “lying spirit” was only doing what he wanted to do (for demons are bent on destroying the human race in one way or another), but God allowed him to fill the mouths of false prophets will lies to convince Ahab to go. In the end God’s will was done, for He is sovereign and no one can thwart His purposes.

I mentioned in the beginning that this has perplexed many believers, yet we have yet another example of God using an evil spirit to further His purposes that no one questions. I’m speaking of Satan in the book of Job. In Job 1:6 we read, “Now there was a day when the sons of God (angels) came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan was among them.” If we read on in verses 7-12 we see that God was praising His servant Job (verse 8) which led Satan to accuse God of sheltering Job from harm and then he issued a challenge to God in verse 11: “But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.” God took Satan up on that challenge, for in verse 12 we read: “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” If you know the rest of the story you know that Satan was ALLOWED to destroy his cattle, his servants, and his children, and later he was ALLOWED to take Job’s health from him. Satan was surely doing what he wanted to do, but behind him God was working out His purposes, for Job’s faith was manifested in all these trials and it brought glory to God. (244.3) (DO)