After Saul turned his back on God, God turned his back on Saul, and it says in verse 14 that an evil spirit from the Lord tortured him.
This is admittedly a tough scripture for us to understand. How could God, who is good send an evil spirit to torture anyone?
But I think the thing that needs to be understood is that God’s greatest desire is that people would turn to him. And sometimes the only thing that can get their attention is for him to take his hand off their lives and let Satan take his shots at them.
You see this in I Corinthians 5 where Paul gives instructions on what to do with an unrepentant sinner. He said,
Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. (verse 5)
The hope is by doing this, their lives become so miserable that they finally turn to the Lord and be saved from their sin. In the case, of the Corinthian man, it seems to have worked (II Corinthians 2:5-10). But in Saul’s case, he never did turn back to God.
Instead, he settled on temporary fixes. His attendants suggested bringing in a good harpist to play music when he was feeling bad, and as a result David was brought into the courtroom to play for Saul. Saul liked him so much, he became an armor-bearer for the king. And whenever the spirit afflicted him, he would call in David, and eventually the spirit would leave and Saul would feel better.
But that feeling of relief never lasted. Why? Because Saul never dealt with the root of his problem. A heart that refused to follow God.
So many people today turn their backs on God and as a result, God sends trouble into their lives in order to turn their eyes toward him. But instead of doing so, they settle for temporary fixes to make them feel better. For some, it’s music. For others, it might be drugs or alcohol. For yet others, it may even be going to church. When they go to church, they are encouraged by the loving people there, the music, and perhaps even the message. But while they may enjoy going to church, they never deal with their biggest problem, a heart that refuses to follow God. And so very quickly, the relief they feel fades away.
How about you? When trouble comes into your life because of your sin how do you respond? Do you turn to God, or turn to temporary fixes? Don’t turn to temporary fixes in your life. Instead, turn to the one who can bring true peace and contentment to your life.
As David wrote,
1 Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the LORD does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 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. (Psalm 32 :1-5)