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Where Does Evil Come From?
There are two types of people: Christians and non-Christians. Among the Christian believers, there are two types of people: overcomers and nonovercomers. Overcomers have special responsibilities as well as special rewards from the Lord.1 On one level, the entire story of Saul and his successor, David, are types and shadows of the church, of the overcomers and of the non-overcomers. Our current studies are focusing on the lives of David and Saul so that we may be instructed in how to become overcomers.
In the previous FMS we observed the prophet Samuel anointing David “in the midst of his brethren.” It was a secret anointing, being witnessed only by his immediate family members. Although King Saul had been rejected from rulership, he was permitted by God to complete his term of forty years.
Some twenty years later, by the time David had become ruler over all Israel, he had been anointed three times. Oil represents the Holy Spirit and anointing with oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit coming upon a person in the Old Testament, and indwelling a person in the New Testament. These three anointings of David correspond to three measures of Holy Spirit given in the life of a Christian who is predestinated to rulership in God’s kingdom.
They also correspond to the three major feasts: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Thus we speak of someone’s Passover anointing which is when someone first comes to Christ (“gets saved”). He is given an “earnest” (down payment) portion of Holy Spirit. Under a Pentecostal anointing, he is given a greater infilling of Holy Spirit. No one has yet received a permanent Tabernacles anointing, because that does not occur until a person’s translation into immortality.
We are told in 1 Samuel 6:13 that from the moment David was anointed by Samuel that “…the Spirit of YHWH came upon David from that day forward.” In the next verse, the scene shifts to Saul’s royal court where we find God’s (Holy) Spirit taking leave of Saul and an evil spirit taking His place.
1 Samuel 16:14 But the Spirit of YHWH departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from YHWH troubled him.
At the palace, Saul’s troubled behavior was an immediate concern to his advisors and staff.
1 Samuel 16:15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
In case we did not believe our eyes as they scanned verse 14, God gives a second witness here in verse 15, and a third witness in the next verse to the fact that indeed God is responsible for sending an evil spirit upon Saul.
16 Let our lord now command thy servants,…and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, …
Many veteran Christians are startled after many years of church attendance to one day discover this passage in their Bibles. It seriously conflicts with what they have been taught from the pulpit for decades. Most Christians have been taught some variation of the idea that God is responsible for all the good in the world and the devil is responsible for all the evil. Often, their theology gradually becomes a view in which there is a cosmic and gargantuan struggle for supremacy going on between God and the devil. They not only believe that it has been going on for millennia in human history, but for untold millions of years before Adam.
In this view, the devil often succeeds in temporarily skewing God’s plans so that God has to come up with some brilliant counterpunch to get the upper hand again. They believe that it is coming right down to the wire now, and although it looks very bad for God—given world conditions and all—God will win in the end, but just barely. We all have friends whose theology is similar to that. Indeed, from the true confessions department, my own thought-theology was such at one time.
So when a dear Christian brother or sister whose theology is as above comes across three verses in a row here which clearly state that the evil spirit came from God, it sometimes sends 120 spiritual volts into their psyche. For a few minutes they actually think that God is responsible for the evil as well as the good. But thank God for the study Bible notes which will help them rid their minds of such nonsense! (Hopefully, our sarcasm here is not veiled.)
After consulting the notes, the dear Christian can go back into his spiritual slumber as to the true nature of God. Yes, the study notes of many Bibles will assure them that it was Saul’s fault. In essence, they say: Since Saul chose to do evil, God’s hands are tied and He has no choice now except to allow the evil spirit to come upon Saul.
The study Bible notes leave us with the clear implication that God does not actively and deliberately send the evil spirit, but it is simply that there is nothing He can do about it when Saul (or any of us) chooses to do evil of our own free will. But the truth is precisely what the dear saint had concluded before he consulted the study notes of his Scofield or other study Bible. We have expounded upon this whole question in great detail in our series of ten tapes in an album called The Sovereignty of God, so we would refer the reader to that for the complete study.2 But let us look at merely two places out of many in the Scriptures where we can verify what we have been stating.
Judges 9:22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,
23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:
Notice that the inspired scribe of the book of Judges describes God as both actively and deliberately sending the evil spirit. There is no possibility here of God being forced by the results of men’s free will to merely allow the evil spirit. To hold to such a view is tantamount to eisegesis (reading something into the Scripture which is not there).
In chapter 45 of the book of Isaiah there is a passage prophesying about the future Persian emperor Cyrus. By the way, in Isaiah 44:28 God calls this unbeliever king, His shepherd! Did you ever recognize that before? Did you think that only Christians or Israelites could be God’s shepherds? Perhaps we need to broaden the boundaries of our understanding on that particular topic. Now we come to the paramount statement in all Scripture, an assertion by God Himself concerning His own sovereignty
Isaiah 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am YHWH, and there is none else.
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I YHWH do all these things.
Again, one might find the authors of our study bible notes doing all kinds of hermeneutical contortions to try to explain away the fact that the Almighty and Eternal Creator plainly claims credit for the creation of evil. Furthermore, ponder the fact that if God had not created evil, then neither you nor I nor Hitler nor the devil could do evil! In our Sovereignty of God series, we go into detail to refute the notewriters’ contortions and to expose their distortions as they try to make the Word of God fit their preconceived theological bias towards dualism. Dualism is the philosophical and theological theory that God and Satan are virtually equal and they are battling for supremacy of the universe.
The study Bible note writers are much too clever, of course, to come right out and state it that way, but that is the conclusion to which the reader is led by their notes. We reject the pure dualism of Zoroastrianism and the quasi-dualism of modern Christianity. We stand on the sovereignty of God which means that YHWH is alone as the Creator and Absolute Ruler of the universe. He has no competition. The devil is His creation and the devil does exactly what God directs him to do. He is the left hand of God, in a manner of speaking. The devil works for God. Or as a dear brother colorfully puts it: “Who writes the devil’s paycheck?”
So back in 1 Samuel 16, we find Saul’s advisors coming up with an idea to try to sooth Saul when he goes mad on account of the evil spirit from YHWH.
1 Samuel 16:16 Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to 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.
17 And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.
18 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning [skillful] in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and YHWH is with him.
Here we have some of the marks of David’s character listed for us, but we merely note them in passing and will reserve commenting upon them.
19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.
These last several verses allow us to further elucidate God’s sovereignty. We mentioned that Saul’s advisors “had come up with the idea” of sending for a musician to soothe Saul. Do you suppose that God was up in heaven watching all this take place and that when Saul’s advisors made their recommendation to bring David to the court, that God was up there saying to Himself:
[slowly.....sighing with relief] “Oh, thank God! (Well, who else is He going to thank??) (God continues:) I was hoping somebody would think of that and now, at last, I can move forward with My plan to get David some one-on-one tutoring on how to be a king. Boy, I’m sure glad they sent for David and not for Nadab, that other harpist. Nadab is a nice guy, but he just doesn’t have the raw material to be a king. But My prayers are answered because the advisors thought of David.”
Is that how it works?! Or is it that, while we recognize that Saul’s advisors did have the idea in their minds to send specifically for David, we also recognize that it was God who put it in their minds to begin with? This latter scenario is the sovereignty of God at work.
Just as God had planned from before the foundation of the world to have Saul to be the first king of Israel and to be a miserable failure at it, so also He planned for David to come to the court at precisely this time for his on-the-job training. Nothing is left to chance...ever! To paraphrase Proverbs 16:33 using modern vernacular: even flipping a coin and seeing it come up heads or tails is predetermined by the Father. The sovereignty of God is one of the most fundamental pillars of the Christian faith; yet, sadly, most who call themselves “fundamentalists” (and most other Christians as well) are severely lacking in their understanding of this bedrock doctrine.
Sometimes it seems as though the Holy Spirit gets “wordy” or redundant in certain passages. Verse 19 is an example which we repeat now to emphasize a portion.
19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.
Does that not sound odd? When Saul, the king of the nation, sends a messenger to Jesse to propose a job in the administration for Jesse’s son, it would seem totally unnecessary for the messenger to inform Jesse that David is with the sheep…as if Jesse did not know??!
But of course, the Holy Spirit does not stutter, nor is He “wordy” or redundant. Our opinion in this case is that God put it in the Holy Writ as a second witness to the fact that David is associated with sheep. It provides a perfect contrast with the next verse. Previously, we have seen Saul (the Pentecostal-type) being associated with the ass. Since David is now headed off to Saul’s court, we therefore find mention of the ass again.
20 And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.
The verse could just as easily have said that Jesse sent David to Saul along with some bread and wine and a kid. So why mention the ancient brand of truck (Ford, Dodge, Chevy :: ass, ox, horse) in which the groceries were brought? By mentioning the ass again, God seems to be calling attention to a sign of Pentecost yet once more. Why, I’m beginning to think that every word in the Scriptures is written by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16).
These common food items themselves are also prophetic of Christ. The bread and wine are easy for even neophyte Christians to recognize. These are the elements of the Last Supper which represent Christ’s body and blood. But what about the kid?
All believers know that Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb, but most do not know that Jesus also fulfills the types of the two goats. The truth be known, most Christians have never been taught that there was a ceremony involving two goats in the law. It is found in Leviticus 16. One goat was sacrificed on the Day of Atonement and the second goat was simultaneously set free in the wilderness. Jesus is not only the Lamb of God; He is also the Goat of God!
That sounds alien to many, if not downright heretical. Heretical because they have this idea that a goat represents the devil and witchcraft or else unsaved people (parable of the sheep and the goats). But the devil always counterfeits, doesn’t he? Therefore, we should not be surprised to find the goatequals-the devil idea floating about.
The truth is that the bread, the wine and the goat—all three point to Christ and are associated with David, the Christ-type, just as he goes to Saul’s court. Figuratively, David (Christ) comes to the (Saul-) church with the signs of Pentecost. And that is entirely appropriate because Jesus fulfilled Passover on the cross.
He fulfilled the Wavesheaf Offering at His resurrection, and ten days after His ascension, He inaugurated the Age of Pentecost, the Church Age, by sending His Holy Spirit to indwell believers. And while believers can and do “quench the Spirit;” that is, stifle and ignore the Spirit, at times; nonetheless, the Holy Spirit resides permanently in the Christian.
21 And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.
22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.
23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God [fourth witness] was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
We are going to forego commenting upon Saul’s malady and David’s musical therapy for him until a later monograph where we see Saul going berserk and taking potshots at David. We will close this monograph with this observation. Given that Saul was possessed by an evil spirit, or possessed by the devil, if you will, it is apparent that his demeanor was not continuously lunatic, but he might have been bordering on what is today called manic-depressive or schizophrenic. We will comment more on this later, but suffice it to say that for a time Saul was calmed by the music of David. Saul thoroughly enjoyed the music. He loved to have the musician around him. In fact, he loved David in the sense that he was very fond of the musician.
1. See our two-part audio message, Rewards of the Overcomers, tapes # 369 & 370. $10 offering.
2. Album A-102, $33 ppd. See our catalog for descriptions of individual tape topics within the series. Request our free catalog if you do not have one. Updates of individual pages are sent out to the FMS mailing list from time to time. And dear readers, please avoid the situation of one beloved brother who heard Part 10 of the sovereignty series first “to get the bottom line,” and rejected it out of hand as pure heresy. A year or two later when he heard the previous nine tapes, he became a believer in the one hundred percent sovereignty of God.