I’m having
trouble interpreting 1 Samuel 16:14-16. It states "an evil spirit from the
LORD tormented him." I don’t understand how an evil spirit can come from
the Lord. If God is the definition of love and good how can an evil spirit come
from God? Or how can he send an evil spirit to torment someone? Thanks!


I will
have to say that the most obvious interpretation of 1 Samuel 16:14-16, if taken
in isolation, is that God chose of his own will to put an evil spirit into Saul
in order to torment him. However, given the balance of scriptural truth, I
believe that this is not the best interpretation of the Samuel passage. On the
one hand, in James 1:13-15 tells us that God does not tempt anyone. It is our
own evil desires which lead us to sin. On the other hand, 2 Thessalonians 2:11
says that, for those who willfully choose to rebel and not accept the truth,
"God senes them a powerful delusion." This second passage seems to be
saying something at least somewhat similar to 1 Samuel 16:14-16. Here is how I
harmonize the passages which make it clear that God does not tempt anyone or
force them to do evil, with passages such as 1 Thess 2:11 and 1 Sam 16:14-16. I
believe that God does not tempt anyone. It is not his will that anyone should
be possessed by evil. However, for this like Saul in 1 Samuel 16 and those who
reject the truth, such as in 2 Thess 2, God is willing to them bear the
consequences of their decision to reject God. God gives us "free
will." This means that there are real consequences to our choice to reject
God’s love. Job chapter 1 pictures God giving Satan freedom to tempt us.
However, God never steals our free will. We can only be possessed by a demon if
we give Satan room in our lives. I believe that in 1 Samuel 16, God allowed an
evil spirit to torment Saul. Saul had already rejected God’s love and support
through his actions. See 1 Samuel 15, for example. Saul had given Satan
permission in his life and God allowed him to bear the consequences of his bad

John Oakes

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