Let’s read 1 Samuel 18:10-11, “And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.”

The main question that comes to mind is, “Why would God send an evil spirit to come upon Saul?” To understand this we need to look at the history of Saul. Israel had chosen him to be their first king and we learn in 1 Samuel 10:1 that the prophet Samuel anointed him. In verse 10 we read that “the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he prophesied among them.” This sounds good, doesn’t it? But as time went on, Saul proved to be an ungodly man who constantly disobeyed God. As a result of his sin of disobedience God chose David in Saul’s place. 1 Samuel 16:13-14 reads, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.” Saul had to reap the consequences of his sin of disobedience and in God’s governmental dealings with him, God not only removed His Spirit from him, but He also ALLOWED an evil spirit to come and torment him. Because of Saul’s severe depression, we read in 1 Samuel 16:16 that Saul’s servants suggested they “seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.” David proved to be that man, and from that point on whenever the evil spirit tormented Saul, David was called in to work his therapeutic charm with his harp. Verse 23 states, “And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.”

We have one more question to answer, “Why would Saul seek to kill David when he was the means of curing his depression?” The answer is found in verses 5-9. Verse 5 informs us that “Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” In verse 6David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistines” and in verse 7 the women greeted David in song with these words, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” The next two verses give us Saul’s reaction, “Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?’ So Saul eyed David from that day forward” (NKJV). We can narrow the answer down to one word: ENVY! Saul’s disobedient heart became an envious heart. When the evil spirit returned to Saul and David came in to minister to his depression, Saul was filled with envious rage. What irony we see in this account, for David came with a “harp in his hand” ready to soothe Saul’s troubled mind, and yet Saul met David with a “javelin in his hand” determined to kill him. Can we even begin to measure the evil of envy? The first murder ever committed was the result of Cain envying his brother Abel and Saul was ready to end David’s life for the same reason. I believe we can say that the envy in Saul’s heart was more evil than the spirit that plagued his melancholy mind. Let us beware of the sin of envy, dear brothers and sisters, and if we feel that envy is lurking in our hearts, let us judge it in God’s presence and ask Him to deliver us from it. (174.5) (DO)