And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand.
1 Samuel 18:10.
Church Devils and the Blame Game
In a blame-blame religious culture where everyone is ready to pass the buck, it is common to blame mystery witches for every crisis. Sometimes the blame lies elsewhere.
Our text states that King Saul got possessed by an evil spirit. Were witches to blame? We shall later know; Saul was possessed all the same. The invading spirit was an unusual kind, a very religious evil spirit by which Saul ‘prophesied,’ an evil spirit often ‘moved,’ strangely, by holy music. In other words, very ironically, this evil spirit usually got stirred by ‘church’ service or church music, and loved to hang around such religious environments. It was one strange devil that ‘loved’ the house of God. It was a wrong spirit that seemed to speak the right ‘language’ of the noble clergy; an evil spirit that ironically had the goodly acts of the church; a wrong spirit in a right atmosphere, around the right people, in noble places. Remarkably, it often chose the conspicuous centre-stage for its disorderly shows: “in the midst of the house” – a spirit that generally preferred the limelight to the modest backstage; and its ‘prophetic’ and kingly coverup meant that it wouldn’t be very simple for the evil ‘ministry’ to be readily detected by lesser priests. “As at other TIMES…” meant that it was not a ONCE-upon-A-time matter; it repeated over “times.”
The young ministry of Paul and Silas was to face the same disguised invasion centuries later (Acts 16:16-18). Very oddly, like King Saul’s ‘church-service’ case, this religiously-camouflaged evil expression chose the places and times of gospel mission, particularly of prayers (v.16). Prayer meetings should cast out devils, not give platforms and microphones to them; prayer meetings should inspire the voice of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2), not the voice of devils, which is why anyone would have been confused – even Paul was, for “many days” (v.18). She was in their midst, but not one of them; she spoke ‘their’ language, but not for their Kingdom; her words were right, but not her spirit.
All evil spirits do not wear the same dreadful ‘uniform.’ Saul’s evil spirit didn’t curse, like other devils would usually do; it didn’t scream and disturb everyone, like violent demons would usually do. It kept a self-respecting stately pose; it proudly did not mix with ‘commoners’; it didn’t say vulgar things; it prophesied; it spoke the elevated ‘prophetic’ language of lofty priests and holy men; it spoke the ‘things of God’ in the name of God. Any blind priest could have made such a ‘zealous’ aristocratic church member a deacon overnight. But my concern lies elsewhere.
Whereas the King James Version uses the word “prophesied,” some Bible translations, like The Living Bible, put it that Saul “raved” – “like a madman.” According to The Complete Jewish Bible, Saul “fell in a frenzy.” Prophesied, raved, frenzy: the Hebrew word being translated is naba which, according to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, means, to speak or sing “by inspiration (in prediction or simple discourse).” We would say therefore that Saul was a raving prophet, or a madman-prophet, moved by a very peculiar kind of evil personality identified simply as “THE evil spirit,” not just AN evil spirit. But, again, my concern lies elsewhere.
To be continued…
From The Preacher’s diary,
January 14, 2018 (on the third day of a secluded fast).