This week, my thoughts are focused on one little sentence in the chapter. 1 Samuel 18:10
The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul.
This seems pretty unequivocal. It was an evil spirit, and it was sent by God. So what’s going on here? I’m reminded of the Exodus story, where God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Is God using evil to accomplish God’s plan? And, if so, why? Saul goes on to torment David over and over again. Was God testing David as a “side effect” of working to eliminate Saul? I’m not at all sure that I like this God!
I guess it really comes down to the source of evil in the world. The New Testament shows a strong dichotomy between Good and Evil, with God and Satan being the eternal opponents in that struggle. But I don’t see that separation in the Old Testament. In this chapter, we see God sending the “evil spirit” to Saul. In the book of Job, we see “the adversary” being authorized, by God, to torment Job to test him.
In general, I feel more resonance with the God of the New Testament, but I actually see value in this Old Testament perspective. I’m not saying that I think that God is inherently evil. Rather, it’s more a sense that it’s an over simplification to breaking things down into “good” and “evil.” That “good” and “evil” are more human constructs than divine. I realize that this is a very controversial position, and I’m not sure about it. I’d love to hear other perspectives on this.