1 Samuel 16:14-18
14. Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15. Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.” 16. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp.
He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you and you will feel better.” 17. So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.” 18. One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”
Reflection by Darlene Wagner
Verse 14 is disturbing when it recounts how “an evil spirit from the Lord” tormented Saul. Does this mean that God sends forth “evil spirits” to torment people? In Young’s Literal Translation, verse 14 says “a spirit of sadness from Jehovah terrified him;” This does not sound like a “spirit” in the medieval, demonic sense. Basically, Saul was depressed. This sadness which terrified Saul is the most excellent description of clinical depression anywhere in scripture. Yet, it still seems odd that the spirit of sadness came from God. Or maybe the spirit of sadness came from the absence of God from Saul’s life?
To bring Saul some peace, his attendants recommend that he take the young man, David, into his service. Not only was David a skilled harpist (or lyre-player), but the Lord was with him (verse 18). Thus, through his music, David would share some of his God-Presence which Saul had lost. Here and elsewhere in scripture, the Divine Presence within a person is characterized by joy. For persons who suffer chronic depression such as myself, scriptures provide hope for knowing joy through knowing God.
Invocation Most Compassionate Father, Thank you for your lesson of Saul and David. The first who lost faith in you, the second who kept the faith. Although I may be tested by depression and anxiety, Let me always keep your faith of peace and joy all the same.