By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Why would God send an evil spirit upon anyone? God does no evil (1 John 1:5). However, God has sent evil spirits to accomplish His purposes. How does the believer accept God’s actions of justice and harmonize these with His sinless and holy nature?
Because of Saul’s rebellion, Samuel anointed David to be king. The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David and departed from King Saul (1 Sam 16:13–14). When the Spirit of the LORD departed Saul, an evil Spirit came from the LORD and tormented Saul (1 Sam 16:14). Saul’s servants recommended that a man come and play the harp to make Saul well (1 Sam 16:16). The evil spirit came and went as David played the harp (1 Sam 16:23). However, David’s playing of the harp did not stop the evil spirit, and Saul took a spear in his hand twice to kill David (1 Sam 18:10; 19:9; cf. 19:20–23).
In the time of the divided kingdom, Jehoshaphat King of Judah advised Ahab King of Israel to inquire of the word of the LORD. After listening to 400 prophets encouraging them to go battle against Syria, the prophet Micaiah revealed his heavenly vision of the LORD sending a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets to entice Ahab. However, the LORD declared disaster for Ahab through Micaiah despite Ahab’s prophets. When the kings went to battle, a random arrow struck King Ahab, and he died that evening in his chariot (1 Kgs 22).
Why would God send an evil spirit upon anyone even someone like Ahab or Saul? God does no evil. God has allowed free will, evil, and suffering to exist for its ultimate destruction in Jesus Christ and thus for God’s glory before all. God was just to remove the Spirit from King Saul for his disobedience and give him another spirit — an evil spirit. God was just to send a lying spirit among Ahab’s prophets and reveal this occurrence to lead that wicked king to his death. God was just to allow Satan to take Job’s possessions, children, and health from him (Job 1–2). Sometimes, God uses an evil agent to accomplish his purposes. God has sent evil nations to overcome others including Israel and Judah (Jer 20:4–6). Jesus prophesied that the nations would besiege and destroy Jerusalem (Luke 19:41–44). Furthermore, God uses events that some intend as evil for good (Gen 50:18–21; Rom 8:28). All of these events brought glory to God demonstrating both His mercy and His justice (Rom 9:6–24). Paul concluded, “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!” (Rom 9:14).