1 Samuel 16:15
And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
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(15) An evil spirit from God.—The form in which the evil spirit manifested itself in Saul was apparently an incurable melancholy, which at times blazed forth in fits of uncontrollable jealous anger. When Saul’s attendants, his officers, and those about his person, perceived the mental malady under which their king was evidently suffering, they counselled that he should try whether the evil influence which troubled him could not be charmed away by music.

There is no doubt but that King Saul’s nervous, excitable temperament was peculiarly subject to such influences. We have some striking instances of this power exercised by sacred music over the king in the incidents related in 1Samuel 10:10; 1Samuel 19:23-24, where the songs and chaunts of the pupils of the prophetic schools had so powerful an influence over Saul. The solemn declaration of God through his prophet Samuel, that the kingdom was taken away from him and his house, weighed upon his naturally nervous and excitable mind. He became gloomy, and suspicious of his dearest friends, and, as we know, at times sought to take their lives; at times would command terrible massacres, such as that of the priests at Nob (1Samuel 22:17-19). As the sad life advanced, we see the nobler traits in his character growing fainter, and the evil becoming more and more obvious. It was a species of insanity, fatal alike to the poor victim of the malady and to the prosperity of the kingdom over which he ruled. History gives us not a few similar instances of monarchs given up to the “evil spirit from God,” and who, in consequence, became a prey to insanity in one form or other.

1 Samuel 16:15-16. His servants said, &c. — His courtiers could not but observe the change which had taken place in him, and the strange disturbance in his mind, and very probably ascribed it to the hand of God upon him. When the evil spirit from God is upon thee — When a melancholy fit seizeth thee. He shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well — And the success confirmed their opinion. It is true, music cannot, of itself, have a direct influence on an evil spirit, to cause it to depart; yet because such a spirit, it seems, had not got possession of him, but only occasionally troubled him, by working on the passions of his mind, and humours of his body; and because it is manifest that music hath great power over these, frequently composing the spirits, and cheering and delighting the mind, and thereby gradually altering, qualifying, and sweetening the very juices and humours of the body; it is not strange if that evil spirit had not that power over Saul when these good effects of music had been experienced by him, which it had had before. Thus Satan had less power over lunatics in the decrease than in the increase of the moon, Matthew 17:15; Matthew 17:18. And seeing music prepared the Lord’s prophets for the entertainment of the good spirit, as 2 Kings 3:15, why might it not dispose Saul to the resistance of the evil spirit? and why might not the cheering of his heart, in some measure, strengthen him against those temptations of the devil which were encouraged and strengthened by his melancholy humour? And by this means David, without any contrivance of himself or his friends, is brought to court, soon after he was anointed to the kingdom. Those whom God designs for any service, his providence will concur with his grace to prepare and qualify them for it.

16:14-23 Saul is made a terror to himself. The Spirit of the Lord departed from him. If God and his grace do not rule us, sin and Satan will have possession of us. The devil, by the Divine permission, troubled and terrified Saul, by the corrupt humours of his body, and passions of his mind. He grew fretful, peevish, and discontented, and at times a madman. It is a pity that music, which may be serviceable to the good temper of the mind, should ever be abused, to support vanity and luxury, and made an occasion of drawing the heart from God and serious things. That is driving away the good Spirit, not the evil spirit. Music, diversions, company, or business, have for a time often been employed to quiet the wounded conscience; but nothing can effect a real cure but the blood of Christ, applied in faith, and the sanctifying Spirit sealing the pardon, by his holy comforts. All other plans to dispel religious melancholy are sure to add to distress, either in this world or the next.The "evil" or "melancholy" spirit here spoken of was "the Spirit of God," or "of Jehovah," as being God's messenger and minister, sent by Him to execute His righteous purpose upon Saul (see 1 Kings 22:19-22 note). 14-18. The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him—His own gloomy reflections, the consciousness that he had not acted up to the character of an Israelitish king, the loss of his throne, and the extinction of his royal house, made him jealous, irritable, vindictive, and subject to fits of morbid melancholy. No text from Poole on this verse.

And Saul's servants said unto him,.... His courtiers, who observing him to act in a frantic manner, to be dull and melancholy, timorous, and irresolute, unsteady, divided, and distressed; or his physicians, who were called in to assist him, and remove his disorder from him:

behold, now an evil spirit from God troubleth thee: the disorder was not from any natural cause, or any bodily disease, and therefore out of the reach of physicians to do any service, but was from an evil spirit suffered of God to harass and disturb him.

And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
1 Samuel 16:15When Saul's attendants, i.e., his officers at court, perceived the mental ailment of the king, they advised him to let the evil spirit which troubled him be charmed away by instrumental music. "Let our lord speak (command); thy servants are before thee (i.e., ready to serve thee): they will seek a man skilled in playing upon the harp; so will it be well with thee when an evil spirit of God comes upon thee, and he (the man referred to) plays with his hands." The powerful influence exerted by music upon the state of the mind was well known even in the earliest times; so that the wise men of ancient Greece recommended music to soothe the passions, to heal mental diseases, and even to check tumults among the people. From the many examples collected by Grotius, Clericus, and more especially Bochart in the Hieroz. P. i. l. 2, c. 44, we will merely cite the words of Censorinus (de die natali, c. 12): "Pythagoras ut animum sua semper divinitate imbueret, priusquam se somno daret et cum esset expergitus, cithara ut ferunt cantare consueverat, et Asclepiades medicus phreneticorum mentes morbo turbatas saepe per symphoniam suae naturae reddidit."
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