Sunday, October 12, 2014

King’s Saul’s first attempt to kill David

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9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
10 ¶And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit which was not of God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.
11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.
12 ¶And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul. (1 Sam. 18:9-12, JST emphasized)

This is the beginning of Saul’s attempts to kill David.  This is kind of a disturbing story, but you’ll bear with me, we’ll see if we can learn some good things from it besides the obvious “don’t murder people.”

It is easy to think that Saul wasn’t really responsible for his actions here if he was under the influence of an evil spirit, but Saul knew what he was doing.  He was using his past history of disordered thinking as a cover for his attempt on David’s life, both to get David to come within range of his spear and for exoneration once the deed was done.  If any of us ever have troubles with mental illness, I hope we never try to use it as an excuse or cover to hurt someone deliberately. 

If a spirit which was not of God was upon Saul, what are we to think when it says he prophesied in the midst of the house?  What kind of prophesying is the evil spirit going to induce?  Probably not the good kind.  This reminds me of some verses from the D&C:

17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
18 And if it be by some other way it is not of God….
23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. (D&C 50:17-18, 23)

I’ll bet if we could have heard what Saul said, we would be able to tell that he didn’t have the right spirit with him.

David was in a precarious position. Unless he was one of those amazing musicians who could play without looking at his instrument, he would be paying attention to getting his fingers in the right place, which would give him only the briefest of moments to look up and notice Saul aiming a spear at him.

It also says David avoided out of Saul’s presence twice.  It is hard to tell whether this means two separate incidents in which David got spears thrown at him or if there was just one incident and David preferred to avoid Saul at least one other time.  However, you have to give David credit for bravery (staying around) and restraint (not immediately avenging himself).  He had to rely on God. (After all, what human authority could he go to about what happened?  His trouble was with the king himself!)

I have to point out here another way Saul made a big mistake.  In the past, music helped Saul get free of the evil spirit tormenting him.  But this time, in choosing to try to kill David played, Saul resisted the calming influence in the music.  Do you think music is going to help Saul after this?  Probably not because he gave power to the evil spirit instead.  He’d have to repent and then make careful efforts to follow good impulses and resist bad ones.

From that we learn we can’t resist the Spirit of the Lord in any of the number of ways he tries to reach us without consequences.  We can’t resist good without putting ourselves in the power of the devil.  On the positive end, we can’t resist the devil without putting ourselves more in the Lord’s power, which is where we want to be anyway..  The influence we list to obey will have power over us.

I think it is interesting that after this incident the one who is afraid isn’t David.  It’s Saul.  Acting on his suspicions didn’t make Saul feel any more secure, but actually less.

Okay, so let’s tally up what we’ve learned from this:
·      Don’t use mental illness as a cover for deliberately hurting people.
·      Evil spirits don’t bring good prophesying.
·      When in danger from a direct superior, you have to rely on God.
·      There are consequences for resisting the Holy Ghost when it is manifest in good influences.