Pastor James J. Barker

Text: I SAMUEL 16:14-23


  1. Samuel was the last of the judges.  Samuel was a godly man, but unfortunately his sons were not.
  2. Because Samuel was getting old, and because the people were unhappy with his corrupt sons, they demanded that a king rule over them (cf. I Samuel 8:1-7).
  3. God granted their request, and the first king of Israel was Saul.
  4. Interestingly, “Saul” means, “asked.”
  5. When people think of King Saul they usually remember his lack of character and the details surrounding his terrible death.
  6. First Chronicles 10:13, 14 says, “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.”
  7. Notice I Chronicles 10:14 says, He (God) killed King Saul.
  8. And God turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.
  9. Saul had been extremely envious of David, and soon his jealousy became murderous (I Sam. 18:7-15).
  11. Saul was self-willed (I Sam. 13:8, 9) and impulsive (14:24), disobedient (15:3, 7-9), and quick to blame others (15:20-23; cf. 14:11).
  12. Saul could be cruel and merciless (22:17-19).
  13. When we are first introduced to Saul, he appears to be quite humble and modest (9:21). Saul had been out looking for his father’s asses, when he met the prophet Samuel (9:6-14).
  15. D.L. Moody said, “Saul went out to seek his father’s asses, and he found a nation of asses ready to make him king.”
  16. Saul was a very rebellious and disobedient man. God did everything He could for Saul, but Saul disobeyed God (13:13).
  17. First Samuel 16:14 is one of the most frightening verses in the Bible – “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.”



  1. First Samuel 10:6 says, the Spirit of the LORD came upon Saul (but not in him).
  2. There are many instances of the Holy Spirit coming upon people in the Old Testament, such as Othniel (Judges 3:10), Gideon (Judges 6:34), Jephthah (Judges 11:29), Samson (Judges 13:25), Saul (I Sam. 10:9, 10), and David (I Sam. 16:13; cf. Ps. 51:11).
  3. The LORD prepared Saul for the throne. “Thou…shalt be turned into another man” (10:6).
  • “For God is with thee” (10:7).
  • “God gave him another heart: (10:9).
  1. What these Scriptures teach is that God was preparing Saul for the throne.  God was going to transform this timid farm boy into a great king and soldier.
  2. The Holy Spirit would equip Saul for service as long as he walked in obedience (cf. 12:14, 15, 24, 25).
  3. God sends the Holy Spirit to strengthen us.  Ephesians 3:16 says we are “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”
  4. But this strengthening can be removed by disobedience.
  6. It happened to Samson.  Four times in the book of Judges we read that the Holy Spirit came upon Samson.
  7. Twice the Bible says, “And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him” (Judges 14:6; 15:14).
  8. But Samson was carnal.  And Samson was disobedient. And the Holy Spirit left Samson and he did not even realize it.
  9. Judges 16:20 says, “And he wist (knew) not that the LORD was departed from him.”
  10. The Bible has many warnings about this.
  11. First Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Quench not the Spirit.”
  12. Ephesians 4:30 says, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God.”
  13. But King Saul quenched the Spirit of God, and He grieved the Holy Spirit of God.  And eventually “the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him” (I Sam. 16:14).
  14. This is similar to what happened to Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom the apostle Paul refers to in I Timothy 1:19, 20. Paul wrote, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
  15. Then there was the adulterous man in the church at Corinth.  Of him, Paul wrote, “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (I Corinthians 5:5).
  16. That adulterous man was saved – “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (I Corinthians 5:5).  In fact we read in the epistle of II Corinthians that he repented.
  17. But Saul never repented.  You may recall that when Saul was pursuing David in the wilderness of Engedi (I Samuel 24).  David snuck up close enough to kill Saul, but he would not do it.  He even cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe.
  18. And David cried out to Saul and told him that some of David’s men advised him to kill Saul, but David spared him; and “I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed” (I Sam. 24:10).
  19. David assured Saul he meant him no harm, and I Samuel 24:16 says Saul wept, and said to David, “Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil” (24:17).
  20. Saul even acknowledged that the kingdom would soon belong to David.  But this was not genuine repentance, because not long afterward, Saul continued his pursuit of David.
  21. In I Samuel 26, we see Saul going down to the wilderness of Ziph, with three thousand men, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.
  22. Once again, David had an opportunity to kill Saul but he would not do it (cf. I Sam. 26:7-10).
  23. Once again David confronted Saul, and once again Saul appeared to be contrite.  Saul even said, “I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly” (I Sam. 26:21).
  24. “I have sinned…I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly” – these sounds like words of genuine repentance, but Saul was not sincere.
  25. Saul never repented; he got worse and worse.  And there is little indication that he was ever truly saved.



  1. What we see in I Samuel 16:14 is the reversal of what we see in I Samuel 10:9 –  “God gave him another heart.”
  2. An evil spirit from the LORD troubled Saul (16:14).  He had every reason to be happy, but now he is troubled. Saul became moody and angry; vexed by a devil; perplexed; unstable; murderous – this was the fruit of sin, and this was the judgment of God.
  3. This demonic affliction was the Lord’s doing – not some disease, not merely a depression of spirits, but a visitation from God.
  4. It was God’s judgment for Saul’s disobedience (cf. I Kings 22:1-23; Isa. 66:4; II Thess. 2:11).
  5. The Lord uses Satan and demons to accomplish His purposes.
  6. This wicked world is being overrun with devils.  God is not standing by helplessly watching (cf. Matt. 17:14-21).
  7. Soon one God’s elect angels will pour out his vial “upon the great river Euphrates.”  Revelation 16:12 says, “and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.”
  8. These “kings of the east” (China?) will be cross the great Euphrates River and head toward the Battle of Armageddon (cf. 16:13-15).
  9. “And He (God) gathered them (the spirits of devils and the kings of the earth) together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Rev. 16:15).
  10. The Lord uses Satan and demons to accomplish His purposes.
  11. God judged King Saul. The “evil spirit from the LORD” vividly illustrates God’s rejection of Saul (16:14; cf. 18:10; 19:9).
  12. Some interpret this “evil spirit” to mean that Saul was depressed and mentally unstable, but the Bible clearly says, “an evil spirit from the LORD” (cf. I Kings 22:20-23).
  13. Even Saul’s servants recognized that:
  • An evil spirit was troubling Saul (16:15).
  • That this evil spirit was from the LORD (16:15, 16).



  1. God sent David to help Saul.  When David played his harp, “Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him” (I Sam. 16:23).
  2. But the evil spirit would return because Saul refused to repent (cf. Matt. 12:43-45).
  3. God gave Saul many, many opportunities to repent.
  4. All throughout the Bible we see men and women whose lives were ruined by the devil, and we see God graciously delivering them from Satan’s grip.
  5. There are many references in the Gospels of our Lord casting out demons.
  6. There are many references in the book of Acts of the apostles casting out demons.
  7. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
  8. This question comes to mind – could what happened to Saul happen to others?  I say, “Yes, it can happen, and does happen.”
  9. Many years ago I read a book by Merrill Unger entitled, The Haunting of Bishop Pike: A Christian View of The Other Side.
  10. Bishop James Pike was an Episcopal bishop who was born in 1913 and died in 1969.
  11. He was a liberal, an agnostic, a chain-smoker, an alcoholic, and an adulterer. He was outspoken in his attacks on the virgin birth of Christ, Christ’s literal ascension into heaven, the Trinity, the Genesis account of creation, etc.
  12. In other words, Bishop Pike was a notorious heretic and an apostate.
  13. In 1966, Pike’s son Jim, a drug user, committed suicide here in a New York City hotel room. Shortly after his son’s death, Pike reported starting getting visits from demons.  His books started vanishing and reappearing, the clothes in his closet were disarranged and heaped up, etc.
  14. Pike started contacting spirit mediums, in an effort to contact his deceased son.  In September 1967, Pike participated in a televised séance with a medium named Arthur Ford, who at the time was a Disciples of Christ minister.
  15. Pike detailed his occult experiences in his book The Other Side.
  16. In September 1969, Pike and his third wife Diane drove into the Israeli desert. Their car broke down and became stuck, and so they separated to search for help. Mrs. Pike survived, but the demon-possessed Bishop Pike died at the age of 56.
  17. Sam Kinison followed in his father’s footsteps and became a Pentecostal preacher.  After his wife divorced him he left the ministry and became a comedian.
  18. He became known for using vulgar language, screaming antics, and attacking Christianity. He was closely associated with the filthy radio shock jock Howard Stern.
  19. In 1992, he died in a car accident in California. He had cocaine, prescription tranquilizers, and codeine in his bloodstream.
  20. Many other similar stories could be told but our time is almost gone.  What happened to King Saul is horrifying but it is not unique.



  1. Peter said in Acts 5:32 that God gives the Holy Ghost “to them that obey Him.”  But Saul would not obey God.
  2. And so we read these frightful words in I Samuel 16:14 – “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.”

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