1 Samuel 16:1 - 23
NLT - 1 Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.” 2 But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” “Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord.
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God is sovereign over all spiritual beings, including evil ones (even Satan). He is capable of using them for his purposes, and they can also do no more than His permissive will allows. (For example, God limited Satan's ability to afflict Job in Job 1-2.) In the case of Saul, God sent an evil spirit to torment him as a just consequence of his failure to fully obey God's command with respect to the Amalekites, which was to completely destroy them, along with all their assets. Saul and his army killed the Amalekite people, but Saul spared the Amalekite king (Agag), and allowed his men to keep the best of the Amalekites' livestock alive. Even though Saul told Samuel that the livestock had been saved so that they could be offered as sacrifices to God, Samuel told Saul that it was more important to God to obey His commands, rather than to offer sacrifices that were in violation of those commands. The tormenting spirit sent by God caused Saul to attempt to kill David (whom Samuel had already anointed as the successor to Saul chosen by God), which further compounded Saul's guilt.
Every person chosen by God, the Israelites in the Old Testament and the Christians in the New Testament) is protected from all spiritual forces of evil. Jesus completed mission on the cross defeated sin, death, and all forces of evil. Our sinful human nature was crucified to destroy the penalty and power of sin. Our gift of eternal life from God destroyed the power and fear of death. Our gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit protects us (Armor of God) from all the flaming arrows of the evil ones. This protection is clearly portrayed in the life of Job. "Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face" (Job 1:8-11). For the people chosen by God, he allows evil spiritual forces access into our lives to "discipline" us when we have gone astray, when we are refusing to confess and repent of our sins. God also allows these evil spirits to proliferate evil, wickedness, corruption and decay upon the whole world as punishment for their sin - not to condemn people but to lead them to repent and receive God's salvation. In Saul's case, he was the king chosen by God to lead the people of Israel. Saul was annointed with the Holy Spirit to fulfil God's will for his life. Saul's refusal to obey God's commands, as revealed through Samuel the prophet, led to God's decision to remove him as king. God removed the anointing of the Holy Spirit because Saul was no longer the chosen one to lead the people of Israel. Without the protection of the Holy Spirit, Saul was exposed to the attack of an evil spirit who came to torment him. God allowed the torment as discipline from God to lead Saul to repent of his sins. God brought David into Saul's life as a righteous witness, the example of a person that God wanted Saul to be, again to lead Saul to repent. Saul remained as the physical king for many years, God being so merciful and giving him many opportunities to repent, but sadly, Saul never did repent and turn back to God, so David, who was chosen by God, became the next king. When we rebel against God, as Christians today, God will remove the spiritual hedge of protection around our lives, to discipline us and lead us in confession and repentance, back to a close personal relationship with God. God never allows his chosen people (Christians) to remain captivated by sin, he is constantly working to make us pure and holy. When our "hard hearts" and "stiff necks" refuse his correction, we suffer the affliction and torment brought about by the spiritual forces of evil in the world, the enemies of our souls. The good news is, we are only a short prayer away from restoring our relationship with God, as David learned. "Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you" (Psalm 32:1-8).
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