1 Samuel 16 reads:

14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. 16 Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.”


23 And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.

Why is the distressing spirit said to be from God, as God is good?

EDIT: This C.SE question addresses the question "How can a Wholly Good God Deliberately Create Evil?" In this question I am looking for the reason why the distressing spirit is addressed to God, and not, for example, to satan.

  • possible duplicate of How can a Wholly Good God Deliberately Create Evil?
    – Mawia
    Jan 14, 2014 at 12:10
  • @Mawia I should rephrase my question, as I am more looking for the reason that a distressing spirit is called "From God", and not from Satan.
    – 2pietjuh2
    Jan 14, 2014 at 12:37
  • Good does not mean that you dont hurt anybody. Like when you spank your kids for their own good. Or you may have to define 'good' in order to claim God is not good. Jan 14, 2014 at 15:55
  • 1
    Music is often a cure for depression. Why assume that psychological illness is evil. That sounds Victorian. Jan 14, 2014 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


Some times we ascribe more power to Satan than he actually has, and less to God than he actually has.

In saying:

1st Samuel 16:14 KJV

But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

they were attributing power to the correct person. So now that I have you completely confused, let's take a look at the scripture and try to discern what is really being said.

First let's take 'But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul' and see what is being conveyed here. In the previous verse:

1st Samuel 16:13 KJV

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

we are told that David was anointed and the Spirit of God came upon him. Which apparently prior to Jesus crucifixion only inhabited one person at a time, and that is the reason it is then said that the Spirit left Saul.

Be that as it may it is the second part of verse 14 in which the misunderstanding occurs.

"and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him", So are there any other Scriptures which will help us to understand this? Let's start with:

Genesis 1:1 KJV

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

next let us consider:

Joh 1:1 through 3 KJV

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

If we combine these Scriptures we must accept that Satan and all the fallen Angels were in fact created by God, and therefore all things "Good and Bad" were made by God.

So how did the evil Spirits come to be?

God did not create Evil Spirits! God created good Spirits (in this case Angels) who by their own choice became Evil.

Revelation 12:7 through 9 KJV

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Satan does not have a Kingdom, but he does have a band of Angels who were co-conspirators in his rebellion against God. These angels are alternately known as demons, and one of these is what is referred to in verse 14, and since they were created by God to say that they are a an evil spirit of the LORD is totally correct the operative word being "evil".

Another question that has crossed my mind concerning this Scripture is did God inspire the writer of Samuel to use those words in order to draw our attention to the fact that when the Spirit of the Lord is not within us that there is an evil spirit just waiting for the chance to take over?

  • So basically, no matter what we do, or don't do, is credited to God. This seems awesome at some way, but also strange. Example: If I write something on a piece of paper, I am the author I'd say. but according to this, I'd have to give all credit to the inventor of paper, who has to give all credit to the Lord. Right?
    – 2pietjuh2
    Jan 14, 2014 at 16:29
  • 1
    @ 2pietjuh2 You are misreading what I said. My point was that God is absolute sovereign. Satan and the evil spirits are God's creation just as we are.
    – BYE
    Jan 14, 2014 at 16:39

God is Completely Sovereign

All events can be credited to him in the sense that nothing happens without him at least allowing it, even if he is not exactly the agent of delivery. This is not necessarily to say that what happens is his highest preference (e.g. he would have preferred that Adam and Eve not sin), but it conforms to his (permissive) will. He is willing to permit us to sin and hurt other people, even though he could prevent it.

Job assigns responsibility to God for all his adversity. When God rebukes Job, he doesn't correct him for such thinking. He only says, "Who are you to question me?" Later, he says that Job has spoken of him correctly (Job 42:7, compared to his three friends, at least). Even though we know that Satan is the malevolent agent who wanted to destroy Job, he was completely bound by what God would permit.

It is as true to assign responsibility to Satan for performing the action as it is to assign culpability to God for allowing it, for God could certainly prevent/stop it if he wanted to. God is in no way powerless to have his way.

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