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“Demons are troubling you. What you need is some harp music!’ said only 1 person ever

Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him. Saul’s servants then said to him, “Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. “Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.’ So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.’ (1 Samuel 16:14-17)

Can you see what’s wrong with this picture?

In the previous verses, Prophet Samuel has just anointed David. The Spirit rushed powerfully onto David, and the Spirit departed from Saul. David’s rise begins, and Saul’s descent has begun.

It was obvious to onlookers that Saul was being tormented by an evil spirit. This should have given Saul pause. It did not.

Did Saul examine himself to see if he was in the faith? No, he didn’t.

Instead, Saul addressed the symptom. Let’s soothe the demon, not investigate why I have a demon. Saul did not appeal to the LORD, he did not pray, he did not sacrifice.

A band-aid on a gushing artery will never solve the problem.

Here is another resource in which we look at practical ways to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. JC Ryle’s first chapter in his book Practical Religion, the chapter is called Self-Inquiry. Ten questions for self-examination.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Saul failed to meet the test. Christians if they are true believers will never have the Holy Spirit completely removed from them. God’s hand will never completely release them, they (we) can and do endure seasons where God has withdrawn temporarily.

Grace To You: I Feel Abandoned in My Trial

Ligonier: Grieving the Holy Spirit

Mike Ratliff: When God Leaves us to Ourselves

Naylor’s Heart Talks: When God Withdraws Himself

The good news is that if one is a true Christian, the withdrawal in New Testament times is only ever temporary. Naylor again:

If God apparently withdraws from us, it is only because he sees that we need to be left alone for a season. He sees that the heart must be drawn away from selfish interest; and when this is accomplished, he comes back and reveals to us anew the fulness and richness of his love.

Saul sinned. He never took spiritual inventory. He never went to the source. He only salved the symptom. William Congreve famously said, “Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast,” but the savagery always returns. Repentance and dependence on the LORD will quell the terror. Harps only go so far.


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Bible Reading Plan thoughts: The power of greed

And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:34)

Yesterday’s Bible reading in Matthew 8-10 has a tremendous scene where Jesus traveled to Gadara, where there were two demon-possessed men. The men were wild, unclothed, screaming demonically and tearing apart rocks and breaking the chains the people put on them to hold them back. They did not let anyone pass that area, and they lived in the tombs. If there was ever a living monster, these two men were it. (Luke 8:26-39 holds more details than the Matthew verse).

Imagine the pain the demon-possessed men were in. Their spiritual despair, their grief, their torment. Imagine the upset they caused for the people of the region, with commerce and trade and simple passage having to be altered just to avoid them. The night-time screams, the scared children, the harm that undoubtedly had come to hapless victims who ventured too near.

In a miraculous moment, Jesus healed the men and dispatched the demons. The man was clothed and in his right mind. All the people of the area came out to see it. What did they do? Did they praise Jesus for His sovereignty over all creation, even demons? Did they congratulate and welcome the man who was now returned to human habitability? Did they fall down and worship the One who was obviously the Messiah? No. They didn’t do any of that.

They were more concerned about their money. Their pigs were dead. “Jesus, go away! You ruined our commerce!”

Avarice is a strong motivator. Don’t underestimate greed. Greed is the basis for false teachers to perpetuate lies. (2 Peter 2:32; 2 Corinthians 2:17). Loving money too much is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10). How shocking and sad their greed blinded them to the wonders of God. They preferred the pigs.

EPrata photo
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The angel was delayed three weeks…

In Daniel chapter 10, we learn that Daniel has been praying for 21 days. He had inquired of the LORD, and Daniel was awaiting the reply. On day 24, the reply came, personally in the form of an angel. Daniel lifted his eyes and this is what he saw:

I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. (Daniel 10:5-6).

What a mighty being! Angels are strong and powerful servants of God!

Beryl is a gemstone like amethyst. It can be yellow or green or aquamarine in color. It sparkles, as any gem does. We all know what lightning looks like, as we know fire’s qualities, and burnished bronze and the sound of a multitude. The Hebrew word for multitude is roar or tumult. So, when the angel spoke, it was loud.

Such a being is powerful and frightening. No doubt that is why the angels all greet those whom they visit with the phrase “Fear not!”

So why is it that puny humans think they can march around the block and utter a few phrases and believe that the unholy angels will be scared enough to scuttle away? Is it the Christian’s duty to engage with spirits they have somehow deduced lurk about a certain location? Is it biblical to think that we can directly confront such powerful beings and use our own words to turn them away from their evil deeds? Is it realistic to think that a believer can utter a prayer that will “bind” such a powerful creature?

The holy angel visiting Daniel was delayed three weeks by an unholy angel, and only escaped when Michael arrived to help him. And we think that though such a powerful angel was delayed so many weeks, we can utter a prayer, similar to snapping our fingers or twitching our nose, and the unholy angel will fly away from us? Think about it.

We are not ignorant of satan’s schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11). We should not be ignorant of his power, either. He is not God’s equal. But he and his cohorts are much more powerful than the little winged cherubs we like to think are the angels. Satan hates us because he hates God. He is at war with God, that old adversary, the usurper. (Isaiah 14:13-14). We must let God wage the war. We wage the war in His strength by standing and resisting, not by chasing and exorcising.

Our job is to grow in grace and strength, not chase around demons.

photo EPrata