Dear Brother Beebe: I would like to have your views on 1 Sam. xvi. 14: “But the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” All the gospel preaching I receive is through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES, and the Southern Baptist Messenger. I get some crumbs from them which feed the hungry soul, make glad the heart, and which serves to buoy me up.
JOHN E. HAMMOND.
Oakland County, Michigan, Dec. 19, 1859.
Reply: We do not understand by the spirit of the Lord, which had been with Saul, and which departed from him, that either the Holy Ghost, or that Spirit which is born of the Spirit, as mentioned John iii. 6, are intended, although both are called the Spirit of the Lord. God is a Spirit, and that Spirit, or Holy Ghost, is God in an absolute sense; immutable, and therefore never vacillating. Wherever it hath taken its abode, it abideth forever. That also which is born of the Spirit is Spirit, (not matter, not flesh,) and it is from God, it is of God. It is eternal life, spiritual vitality. It is that life which was with the Father and was manifested. (1 John i. 2.) It was given to the saints in Christ. (1 John v. 11, 12.) This also permanently abides wherever it is implanted. “I,” says Jesus, “give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” - John x. 28. The assurance that they unto whom it is given shall never perish, proves that this Spirit of immortality does not come and go, as did the spirit of Saul.
The spirit of the Lord, which God bestowed on him to qualify him to reign over Israel, was a spirit of wisdom, of might and courage, &c., and embraced such qualifications as were essential for him to have in order that he might fill the office to which the Lord had anointed him. Hence when this spirit was upon him, he was valiant and mighty, but when it departed, he was melancholy and fretful.
At the time spoken of in our text, the anointing had passed from Saul to the son of Jesse. Samuel had been sent to anoint David, and Saul, as king of Israel, was superceded by David, and with the anointing, the essential qualifications for the government had also passed from Saul to David.
The evil spirit from the Lord which came upon Saul and troubled him, is spoken of, and was treated as a disease, which could be healed temporarily at least, by the skillful playing of David on a harp. It is called an evil spirit, signifying that it was a righteous judgment of the Lord for the wickedness of Saul, and opposite in its effects from the spirit which had departed.
At one time the spirit of prophesying came on Saul, as we presume it came on Balaam, and, for aught we know, upon the beast on which Balaam rode, for he was made to speak with a man’s voice, and rebuke the madness of the prophet. To argue that Saul, or Balaam, were born of the Spirit, and that they had fallen from grace, is as preposterous as to argue that Balaam’s ass had also fallen from grace.
We are informed that the hearts of kings are in the hands of the Lord; that he turneth them as the rivers of water are turned. He hardened the heart of Pharaoh, that he might make his power know in him. He directed the movements of Cyrus, a heathen monarch, who knew not God, and went before him; opened the two-leaved gates, that they could not be shut. Evil spirits as well as good spirits are under his control, and can only go where he sends them. Legions of them were unable to go into and drown the swine until he sent them. A lying spirit was, by divine command, put in the mouth of all of Ahab’s prophets, that they might persuade him to go and fall at Ramath Gilead. Indeed, if we were compelled to believe there were any unchained devils, independent of the controlling power and absolute decrees of Jehovah, we should tremble for the fate of the universe. But because the Lord reigns, therefore let the earth rejoice.
Our risen and exalted Jesus has ascended up above all heavens. All things are put under him, and he has a name written upon his vesture, and upon his thigh, King of kings and Lord of lords.
January 1, 1860.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 293 - 295