The Lord Was With David. What Happened to Saul?

Saul went from shy and timid to being suddenly gifted with the "Spirit of God" (1Sam. 11:6), and becoming a confident, decisive leader for twenty years (1Sam. 14:47–38). But all of this was lost as suddenly as it had been gained—the Spirit removed his gift. The Lord was with David, and Scripture also says He was with Saul — until "the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him." What does this tell us about the Holy Spirit? What is the difference between the anointing of the Spirit for ministry, vs the indwelling of the Spirit that begins at regeneration? Dr. Kayser explains how, though believers can never lose the Spirit's hold upon their lives for eternal salvation, they can lose the Holy Spirit's anointing and infilling and become so vulnerable to Satan that demons can mess around with their lives. In this sermon we follow Saul's trajectory of repeatedly grieving the Spirit, and what it did to him.


Some time back a fellow pastor bought a 1000 piece puzzle and when he and his wife had put it completely together, there was a piece missing. And they knew they hadn't lost it. So he took it back to the store and got a refund. And the clerk asked a question that seemed a little silly to him. She said, "How far did you get before you realized that there was a piece missing?" The answer is obvious: you don't know a piece is missing until the puzzle is completely done.

And apart from the Holy Spirit's illumination, that can easily be the way it is with us. We can be blind to huge pieces that are missing in our lives. That is certainly the way it was with Saul. He just didn't seem to recognize the missing pieces that spoiled the picture. He saw the good things in his life, and that was enough. And there were plenty of good things there. David himself said so. And part of the problem was that, like Samson, he truly had been anointed by God's Spirit and used by God's Spirit in his earlier days. But through backsliding, failure to have true repentance, pride, fear, and other sins, Saul eventually lost all evidence of the Spirit's anointing in his life.

This is a passage that has confused many people. In fact, it has confused me in the past. Someone asked me last week if I believed Saul was saved. I said, "I don't' know for sure. There are good arguments for both sides." In favor of Saul being saved is that 1Samuel 10:6 says that he was "turned into another man," and Samuel said, "God is with you," (v. 7), and verse 9 says, "God gave him another heart," which many people take to be regeneration – a new heart, and it was only after that in verse 10 that the Spirit of God came upon him for an anointing. So it appears that God was with Saul and gave him a new heart and turned him into a new creature before the Spirit anointed him. They are two different things. You see, in the book of Judges, the anointing for judges was different than their salvation. Furthermore, when Samuel came back from the dead, he told Saul, "tomorrow you and your sons will be with me" (1Sam. 28:19). He didn't mean that Saul and his sons would join him in the grave, because Saul never made it to the grave. His dead body was hung by the Philistines on one of their town walls and then it was burned. So it appears that Saul would go to live with Samuel in the afterlife. Samuel wasn't in hell. He was in paradise. Ergo, some people conclude that Saul was saved, no matter how messed up his life was. Furthermore, David in his eulogy said, "Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant, in their lives and in their death they were not divided" (2Sam. 1:23). I looked through two pages of Hebrew exegesis of that verse, and the evidence does seem to favor that while living they weren't divided and after death they weren't separated. Their bodies were definitely separated, so it sure doesn't seem like it is talking about their bodies. That's an outside possibility. But in terms of time sequence, the sons were killed before Saul was. So one commentator says that the Hebrew indicates that they were not separated from each other by death since they all went to the same place. And we know Jonathan was saved. Of course, I can give you arguments against his being saved. The first one is that Samuel said, "Why do you ask me, seeing the LORD has departed from you and has become your enemy?" The other argument is that Saul seemed to persevere in his backslidden condition. Those are not quite as persuasive, because even Christians can fight against God and can be backslidden like Solomon. In one sense it doesn't matter. These passages are meant to be warnings, not passages just to satisfy our curiosity. Jonathan Edwards pointed out that apart from revelation clearly indicating the outcome, we don't always know for sure. There are some people like Judas, whom all the disciples thought was saved, but who ended up in hell, and there are other people like Lot who we would have assumed was not saved, yet 2Peter 2:7 says that he was saved. We can never presume upon God's grace, but must cling to the Lord all of our days. Any one of us can end up like Saul did if we do not cling to the Lord. I think that is the intention that God is communicating here.

Anyway, if you want my opinion, I think the weight of evidence leans very strongly in favor of Saul being saved. And the reason he got to this point was that he gave Satan legal ground to mess around with him. We are going to be focusing mainly on David today and the phrase in verse 18 that says, "the LORD is with him." But exactly the same thing was said of Saul in 1Samuel 10. It says the Lord was with him. Yet here God clearly departs from Saul. And so these verses are both an encouragement to us and a warning to us. We cannot rest upon our past achievements. We can only rest upon the Lord. We cannot have faith in our faith, or in past experiences. We can only have faith in the Lord. We must constantly be pressing into the upward calling that we have in Christ Jesus.

Anointed by the Spirit (vv. 13-14)

This was something in addition to what David had before (v. 13)

Let's back up one verse and begin by looking at verse 13. "Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward." David is anointed by the Spirit at age 15. What does that mean?

These verses show that this is not an issue of salvation, but of empowering & equipping (See Psalm 71:5,6; 22:9-10; Is. 61:2)

It does not mean that this is the time when David got saved. There is plenty of evidence that David was saved long before this. For example, in Psalm 22:9-10 David says,

Psalms 22:9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb;

You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts.

Psalms 22:10 I was cast upon You from birth.

From My mother's womb

You have been My God.

David clearly trusted in God when he was a baby. In fact, the text indicates that David was regenerated by God in the womb, much like John the Baptist was. Psalm 71 is a similar passage. In verses 5-6 David says,

Psalms 71:5 "For You are my hope, O Lord GOD;

You are my trust from my youth."

Psalms 71:6 "By You I have been upheld from birth;

You are He who took me out of my mother's womb.

My praise shall be continually of You."

While it is not quite as clear, this too seems to indicate that he trusted God from a very young age. What verse 13 is talking about is anointing for service, not indwelling for life. And the Old Testament distinguishes very clearly between those two. For example, in Numbers 27:18 God told Moses to take Joshua, "a man in whom is the Spirit" and to lay hands upon him. So he is already saved and indwelt by the Spirit before Moses lays hands on him. But as soon as Moses lays hands on Joshua, the Spirit came upon him and Deuteronomy 34:9 says that from that point on he was filled with the Spirit. The indwelling of the Spirit happens at regeneration. The anointing and subsequent filling of the Spirit empowers us for various unique ministries. You can never lose the indwelling Spirit, but the Spirit can certainly leave you as to anointing. He can remove His protection, His wisdom, His gifting, and other blessings that enable us to function in our calling with power.

Now this issue of anointing and filling is critical. In the Old Testament it seems that only prophets, judges, and a few others received it. But in the New Testament, from Pentecost and onward, any believer can receive this anointing and infilling. And when you engage in your work with the power that comes from this anointing, your work is transformed. So many Christians lose this anointing and infilling just like Samson temporarily lost his and Saul completely lost his. I have seen more than one pastor starting with a real anointing, but due to backsliding, ended with a dull and lifeless ministry even though they continued to minister for years. He was saved, but he wasn't walking in the Spirit.

This is the same Spirit that fell upon

Othniel (Judg. 3:9)

Gideon (Judges 6:34)

Jephthah (Judg 11:29)

Samson (Judg 13:25)

Saul (1Sam. 10:1,6,10; 11:6; 2Sam. 7:5)

Christ (Luke 4:18; Is. 61:1)

Even Jesus as the perfect God-Man, needed this anointing and infilling of the Spirit in order to accomplish His mission. I believe He had earlier filling for other work that He did (carpentry, and obedience to his parents, and devotions, and learning). But I want you to turn with me to Isaiah 61:1-3. The Gospel of Luke indicates that this prophecy was fulfilled at the beginning of His three and a half year ministry when He was baptized by John, anointed by the Spirit, and when He began to serve as He was led by the Spirit. And by the way, I believe you can have multiple anointings. You may need a new anointing of the Spirit for what is coming up in a couple of months. But look at Isaiah 61:1-3.

Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,

Because the LORD has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;"

This is saying that the Spirit's anointing is what enabled Him to engage in a ministry that rescued people who had been enslaved to various vices, who were in captivity to Satan, who were emotionally destroyed, and who were poor in spirit and weren't able to do anything because of this poverty. He enriched them spiritually. In verses 2-3 it continues to describe Christ's remarkable ministry:

Isaiah 61:2 "To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,

And the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,"

Isaiah 61:3 "To console those who mourn in Zion,

To give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,"

"The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;" [some of you guys need that don't you – because you are so heavy spirited. Well, that's what Christ's ministry is about. He goes on.]

"That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."

All of that flowed from His anointing according to this passage. But then the remarkable thing about Isaiah 61 is that the chapter goes on to say that Jesus confers this same ministry and this same power upon all of his followers. And they will be enabled to rebuild ruined lives, bring joy to the joyless, and bear much fruit to His glory. Without God's anointing, our ministry will not have His power.

Isaiah 11:2 speaks of the same anointing of Jesus. It says, "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." Now obviously, Jesus had at least some measure of all of those things by God's Spirit earlier – as Luke 2:52 words it, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." But this anointing ushered him into so much more wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, etc. It enabled Him to fully embrace every aspect of His calling. This anointing is what had enabled Othniel, Gideon and so many others to do things that went beyond human ability. It enabled them to walk in the supernatural.

And it is my desire that you would have this anointing and subsequent filling every day of your lives. Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 5:18: "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but keep being filled with the Spirit." There are only two directions you can go. The first direction that he speaks of as a possibility in these believers is dissipation as a result of failing to fight valiantly against sin. The power of God's Spirit in your life dissipates or vanishes away just like it did in Saul. The other possibility for these believers is to daily seek to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. You can't stay the same: you are either getting refilled or you are dissipating; refilled or dissipating.

This power is revocable (v. 14). Note that David pleads that the same not happen to him (Ps. 51:11)

One of the reasons people are confused about where Saul stood is because they think Christians can never lose the Holy Spirit. But they can. Now it is true, and I want to absolutely affirm this - they can never lose the Spirit's hold upon their lives for eternal salvation. But they can lose the Holy Spirit's anointing and infilling completely and become so vulnerable to Satan that demons can mess around with their lives any time that they please.

I want you to notice in verse 14 that this power is revocable. Verse 14 says, "But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit [or literally, "an evil spirit"] from the LORD troubled him." Three things that I want you to notice. First, God sent the evil spirit. It was no doubt a situation where a demon asked permission to afflict Saul claiming legal ground, and God says in effect, "Yes, you may do it. Go." God did exactly that with a demon who wanted to be a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets. So even demonism is not beyond the power of God to restrict or to give permission. He is sovereign when you get demonized. It could very well be a discipline from God's hand.

Second, Saul previously had the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon him. I think that is clear. 1Samuel 10:6,10 gives exactly the same language for Saul that it did for David in verse 13. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul. This enabled Saul to prophecy and to be unbelievably bold in chapter 11 whereas he had been timid, shy, and insecure in chapter 10. This anointing enabled Saul to have heightened leadership abilities in chapters 11 and following whereas he showed a lack of leadership abilities in chapter 10. This anointing gave Saul conviction, passion, courage, insight, power, and success. But when he started rationalizing his sin in chapter 13, we see a little dissipation of his spiritual filling. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is grieved. You can't just deal with Him as a power; He is a Person.

When we see anger unrepented of in chapter 14, and anger leading to bitterness, there is further dissipation. You see, you are either being filled with the Spirit or His power is dissipating. Filling/Dissipating. It didn't happen overnight. When those sins were not properly acknowledged and forsaken, they grew. So his anger grew, and his bitterness grew, and those sins became the fertilizer of yet other sins. That's the process of dissipation or vanishing.

In chapter 15 there are sins of pride, fear of man, rationalization, minimization of sin, justification of sin, giving in to demonic temptations, until finally things had gotten so bad that Samuel told Saul that his "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry, because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king." When Samuel said that Saul's rebellion was as the sin of witchcraft, there was obviously demonic happening already before he completely lost his anointing. Why? Because of dissipation. "Do not be drunk with wine wherein is dissipation, but be filled with the Holy Spirit." You are losing the protection of the Holy Spirit and it gives other spirits opportunity to take advantage.

I want you to remember that Samuel didn't say that Saul was rejected from being a saved child of God in chapter 15. In fact, we saw last week that Samuel loves Saul, and treats him as a truly saved person, and wished that God would not reject Saul. Not being one to discipline his own children, he felt bad when God disciplined Saul. Perhaps he was hoping that Saul would repent. But there comes a time when that is too late, and you cross over a line where there is no return. This is not the unpardonable sin. This would be more akin to the sin that a brother can commit in 1John 5:16-17 where God tells us it won't do any good to pray for such a brother. But anyway, nowhere does it say that Saul lost his salvation. He was rejected from being a king. This led to Saul's willingness to murder in chapter 16 because he is trying to hold onto what the Spirit is taking away. But he can only do it in the flesh. It is a downhill slide into dissipation until the Spirit of the Lord completely leaves Saul and he no longer has this supernatural wisdom, empowering, or success.

In his commentary on 1Samuel, Gary Kukis summarizes the position of Walter Kaiser, saying,

Kaiser, et. al. present to us what God the Holy Spirit did on behalf of Saul: Exactly what the Spirit's presence with Saul entailed is not explained, but it seems to have included the gift of government, the gift of wisdom and prudence in civil matters, and a spirit of fortitude and courage. These gifts can be extrapolated from the evidence that after Saul was anointed king, he immediately shed his previous shyness and reticence to be in the public eye. It is obvious that Saul did not have a natural aptitude for governing, for if he had, why did he hide among the baggage when he knew already what the outcome would be? But when the Spirit of God came upon him in connection with the threatened mutilation of the citizens of Jabesh Gilead (1Sam. 11), and Saul sent out word that all able-bodied men were to report immediately for battle, the citizens of Israel were so startled that this had come from the likes of Saul that they showed up in force. God had suddenly gifted him with the "Spirit of God" (1Sam. 11:6), and Saul was a great leader for twenty years (1Sam. 14:47–38).


But all of this was lost as suddenly as it had been gained—the Spirit had removed his gift of government. In other words, it is clear that, via the Spirit of God, Saul revealed leadership strengths which he obviously did not possess before.

I am spending all of this time on the first point because unless God is with you by way of anointing and filling, Ephesians 5-6 says that it will negatively affect your ability to worship, your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your children, your relationships at work, and your ability to engage successfully in spiritual warfare with Satan. Commentators point out that this daily filling is the basis for success in each of those areas that I listed in chapters 5 and 6. And all of those things begin to dissipate when you hold onto sin like Saul did. If you are not moving forward by the power of the Spirit, you are automatically moving backwards into dissipation. This is not legalism; this is relationship with a holy God that must be nurtured.

Now I have probably repeated myself here over and over again, but I don't want you to miss it. This is the ultimate contrast between David and Saul. Saul didn't slay his enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil. He made a peace treaty with Amalek. And God keeps bring up that fact as an illustration of what was wrong with Saul's life. Even in chapter 28 he speaks of this incident with Amalek. David on the other hand, was quick to repent of sin and get up. The one exception – in the case of Bathsheba, David is in serious trouble, and when confronted by Nathan, he has a thorough going repentance that you can read in Psalm 51. And in that Psalm he recognizes that the Spirit's anointing and filling can be revoked. So he pleads with God, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You." He recognized that his ministry would be completely without power if the Holy Spirit was removed. It has nothing to do with removing salvation. Yes you will lose the subject joy of your salvation, but that same passage indicates that David was not losing his objective salvation. That can never be lost. This has to do with restoring David to a place where He is walking in the Spirit and empowered by the Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, if you learn nothing more from this sermon than this lesson, I will be grateful. Do not respond to your bitterness, your anger, your pride, and your other sins like Saul did. As soon as the Spirit convicts you, go to your wife, or husband, or your children, or others you have offended, and tell them, "That was wicked of me to say that. The Bible says that such words should never come out of my mouth. Instead, here is what I should have done. Please, would you forgive me?" Saul could rarely bring himself to do that. Do not make a peace treaty with the king of the Amalekites. If you want to know how to really war, read the book we gave to you several months, the Christian in Complete Armor, by William Gurnall*.* Don't let it sit on the shelf for years unread. That is a book that will help you to stay in the anointing of the Spirit all your life. It's an incredibly well written book.

Guided by Providence

Saul's servants recognize the problem (v. 15)

Well, we do need to hurry on to show you what it meant for the Lord to be with David. He was with David in His providences. Look at some of the cool things that God orchestrates.

First of all, when Saul gets demonized, Saul's servants immediately recognize the problem. Apparently they had seen demonization before. God makes sure that they can recognize it. And they are reformed enough to know that this demon could not have come without God's permission, so they say in verse 15, "Surely, a distressing spirit" [literally an evil spirit – it's a demon. "An evil spirit"] "from God is troubling you." They are Reformed enough to recognize that Satan and his demons can't do a thing without God's permission.

But they don't recognize the true solution (v. 16) – which would be repentance.

But they aren't Reformed enough to call Saul to repentance and restoration to God. Instead, they offer a bandaid for cancer. In verse 16 they say, "Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well." Apparently they had seen prophets use music in spiritual warfare and be successful. Samuel had a whole school of prophets that he taught music and other ministry to.

But getting rid of a demon temporarily is not enough. If the legal ground that Saul had already given to the demons was not repented of, cleansed, and given over to God, the demons could come back at their pleasure. And Jesus says that often demons will bring back other demons with them that are even more powerful. Nevertheless, God guides David into Saul's presence through this inadequate advice. God's hand is clearly at work.

Saul is open to trying anything (v. 17)

In verse 17, Saul is in a frame of mind where he is so scared of the obvious demonic presence in his life that he doesn't argue with these guys. He's desperate. He is willing to try anything. That's not a good idea. That can lead to even more demonism, as it did toward the end of Saul's life, where he even consulted a medium. We should only be open to what is Biblical when engaging in spiritual warfare. One of the warnings that William Gurnall gave in his book, The Christian in Complete Armor, was that we not engage in battle with unbiblical strategies or partially biblical strategies. It is biblical to use spiritual warfare music against Satan, but if that is the only strategy you use, you will fail. Apart from deep repentance such as David had in Psalm 51, you have no power to remove Satan's legal ground.

Someone "happened" to know about David (v. 18)

In verse 18 we see that someone just "happened" to know about David. There could have been any number of musicians that they might have brought to Saul. But God orchestrates this so that a future king could learn about the dangers of kingship under Saul, and learn to hate rationalization, and learn to hate Saul's improper ways of handling sin, and learn what warfare with demons is all about. God knows what He is doing when He brings David here.

Saul wants David (not knowing he is the future king) (v. 19)

Then of course, no one knows that David has been anointed. How does God keep that from knowing? We aren't told, but God is orchestrating things for David's safety.

Jesse can spare him (v. 20)

In verse 20 we see that Jesse is able to spare David, and he sends David with a gift for Saul.

Saul loved him and trained him (v. 21-22)

And in verses 21-22 we see that Saul loves David and actually trains him. "So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, ‘Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight." It makes you smile when you see how God's providence is with David.

The obvious blessing of God on David (v. 18)

Verses 14-23 = the three year period from anointing at age 15 to Goliath at age 18. During this time David occasionally went to his father to help with the sheep (see 17:15)

But let's go through verse 18, because I think it encapsulates very vividly the obvious blessing of God on David – so obvious that this officer could not help but notice.

I want to set the context for what has been witnessed here. Verses 14-23 covers a period of approximately three years, from David's age 15 (when he is anointed in verse 13) to his age 18 (when he confronts Goliath in the next chapter). We aren't told how much time has passed before he goes to Saul's court, and how much time he was actually in the court, but apparently David has been operating in the power of the Spirit for at least weeks, and more likely months, if not even a year. It is unlikely that more than a year has transpired between verse 13 and verse 19 since Saul would have wanted help as early as possible and because chapter 17:15 indicates that David travelled back and forth from Saul's court occasionally, indicating he was at court for a period of months or longer. But let's say six months to a year transpire from verse 13 to verse 19. That still gives plenty of time for everything needed to happen in both contexts. What do I mean by everything needing to happen?

Skillful in music – time of some Psalms being composed?

Well, look at verse 18: "Then one of the servants answered and said, ‘Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing…" Part of David's anointing was prophetic. It wasn't just any kind of music they were looking for. They are looking for prophetic music, such as the school of the prophets taught. And it may have been Samuel's school of the prophets that taught David this prophetic music. And it appears that at least a few Psalms had been composed by David in the interval between verse 13 and verse 19.

A mighty man of valor – the bear and lion? (17:34-37)

Second, God was with David by making him "a mighty man of valor." It is remarkable to see a fifteen-sixteen year old that could be described as a mighty man of valor. There had to have been some occurrences in his shepherding that would have made this man say this. I believe that this is likely where David's slaying of the bear and lion come in. It would take both strength and courage to take those creatures on. And the way Samuel is written, it appears that David did that in the anointing the Spirit.

Look at chapter 17:34-37.

1Samuel 17:34 "But David said to Saul, "Your servant" [So he has been working for Saul and is used to court etiquette. "...your servant"] "used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,"

1Samuel 17:35 "I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it."

1Samuel 17:36 "Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God."

1Samuel 17:37 Moreover David said, "The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you!"

And of course, God was with David by way of protection, courage, and even physical strength.

A man of war – fighting Philistine raiders trying to steal the sheep?

The next thing that the man in chapter 16:18 calls David is "a man of war." This has puzzled many, many people because David was too young to be in the army. He is somewhere between 15 and 16. Some liberals say that this passage is totally out of order, and had to have occurred after chapter 17. But that would make contradictions itself. The solution really is quite easy. To be a man of war, all he has to have done is to have engaged men in actual battle. But the Philistines didn't just battle armies like Saul's. There were also what 1Samuel 13:17 calls Philistine raiders. These would just be people wandering from farm to farm to swipe stuff. These raiders would not be part of the main Philistine army. When the Israelite men would go to battle in the army, the raiders would rush into a farm and plunder it for self-enrichment. Everyone on the farm would do their best to defend what they had. And apparently David had already distinguished himself as a man of war in defending his family's property against these raiders. Have your young men been trained to fight?

Young boys and even young girls were often taught how to shoot in early America because people knew that the army couldn't be everywhere. Self-defense was expected of everyone. And apparently David must have killed enough Philistines to gain the respect of this man, who calls him "a man of war." That was a compliment for a 15-16 year old.

Prudent in speech

The next thing that the Spirit of God produced in this young man was an ability that verse 18 describes as "prudent in speech." He wasn't a hot head. He didn't fly off at the mouth like Saul sometimes did. To be prudent in speech means that David had been taught by the Spirit to tame that untamable tongue. Though man on his own cannot control the tongue according to James God can. And this is a wonderful gift from the presence of God's Spirit – prudence in speech. Every one of us ought to ask God by His anointing to make us prudent in speech.

A man of good presence (ESV)

The next item is said in the New King James to be "a handsome person." I don't think that is a good translation. The dictionary says, "it probably never means ‘appearance,'" and then cites the RSV as a better translation – "a man of good presence." I can think of people who stand out in a group because of the power of God's Spirit in their lives. Your eyes don't just ignore this person – he stands out. There is something compelling about him. I think this was what was happening with David.

"the LORD is with him"

And then finally, the man just sums up his evaluation of David with the phrase, "and the LORD is with him." This whole section is the hinge on which the whole book of 1Samuel swings. Verses 13-14 are the center point of the whole book. God was with David by way of anointing and He was no longer with Saul by way of anointing. There was an increase of the one, and a dissipation of the influence of the other.

Every one of you should covet this phrase in your life "the Lord is with him." When the Lord was with Joseph, everything he did prospered and those whom Joseph worked for prospered. He didn't have to cut the wooden planks two times. When he cut a plank, God helped him to cut it right. He knew just how to construct the buildings, and manage the books, and buy and sell, and do the other things a steward had to do, because God's Spirit gave him wisdom. And there are some people who are anointed in a special way to be carpenters, software programmers, or to peacemaker, or to be warriors. God's Spirit can heighten any calling to which we are called. And when He does there is a constant overflow of the goodness of the Lord into the lives of those around us when God is with us when we have this anointing.

But - it is not automatic for the Christian. This is a state of living that must be sought. The encouragement in the New Testament is that every believer continually seek this anointing and this filling by the Spirit. But if it is not sought, you are simply coasting through life and waiting for the end like Saul was. What a tragedy! What a wasted potential! But there are some people who simply cannot humble themselves as David did to seek forgiveness. There are some people who act like Saul for most of their lives. Yeah, they are good citizens, and they go to worship, work hard, generously serve the nation and serve the church, are satisfied with success at work, but never stop to ask themselves if there is more. And when the Spirit convicts them and prompts them to do things, they try to hush His voice because it is uncomfortable. They are hushing their very blessing, power, and success!!! Never hush the Holy Spirit! These people are not like David – hungering for more of God. And consequently they miss the supernatural power that could be theirs.

Engaged in Spiritual warfare (v. 23)

Note that Saul was powerless to resist demons because he was compromised

And I want to end with the supernatural ability to engage in spiritual warfare with demons. Verse 23 says, "And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit" [or literally, "the evil spirit"] "would depart from him."

The first thing you should note is that Saul was powerless to resist demons because he was compromised. That ought to scare us. Some Christians naively believe that Satan cannot ever touch them. That is absolutely not true. And they might argue, but what about 1John 5:18? "the wicked one does not touch them." No, read the whole verse. Let me read it to you – "We know that whoever is born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who is born of God [while] guarding himself, the wicked one does not touch him." But the implication is that if you don't guard yourself, Satan can indeed touch you. And the implication also is, if you keep going on sinning, you are not born of God.

David had his own periods of dissipation – the incident with Bathsheba, his failure to discipline his children, and his numbering of Israel being the worst ones. And 1Chronicles 27 says that demons immediately begin to take advantage. It says that Satan moved David to number Israel. So he can touch believers. Luke 13 records the healing of a genuine believer who had a back infirmity where she had been bent over and could not straighten up at all. And Jesus describes her as "a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years" (13:16). She was a true believer that Satan had bound for 18 years. Matthew 18 ends the story of the unforgiving servant by saying that God will hand His children over to demonic tormentors if they refuse to forgive each other. And there are many other passages that indicate any one of us can end up like Saul if we do not guard our hearts. We will be powerless against Satan.

Over the years of ministry I have run across numerous Christians who have been tormented by demons, blinded by demons, and moved by demons. Some of them have had weird demonic things happening in their houses. They have had demonic nightmares, and a spirit of ill will has come between them and others. And in other ways they were powerless to deal with the demonic even though they were believers. They weren't possessed by Satan – only God can own a believer. But in this congregation I have gone into homes where I could discern the strong presence of demons. And sure enough, there was legal ground there. One home had an occult game in it. Another home had literature that I'm sure made the demons rub their hands in glee and ask God if that gave them legal permission to invade. And it was not until the legal ground was renounced, and put under the blood of Christ, and forgiven, that the demons could be cleansed from the property permanently. But I've had two families in the history of this church where I have repeatedly cleansed the place of demons, but they kept coming right back because these people were acting like Saul. Ephesians 4:25-32 says that when you lie, when you allow the sun to go down on your anger, when you have corrupt speech, bitterness, wrath, clamor, gossip, and evil speaking that is unrepented of, you give place to the devil. Literally it is, you "give a foothold" to the devil. You are giving Satan a place that he can launch from in your lives. Some people start finding demonic problems because they view pornography. Others find it because their home is full of rebellion, which was one of Saul's sin. Samuel said that rebellion is just as bad as the sin of witchcraft.

Any one of us can give legal ground. Our family gave legal ground just a few years ago for massive attacks from Satan when we received a pagan idol into our home. A new student was just bringing us a house-warming gift. We would have thrown it away afterwards because it really was an ugly thing, and we don't like to have those things around anyway. But there was something different this time. I was up in Canada, and my headship was missing from the home. The guest told my wife, "This is an idol. If you get sick, just pray to it and you will get better." I don't remember what Kathy's response was. I'm sure she said something to the effect that we only pray to God. But by receiving this idol as a gift, demons must have felt that they had an open invitation. After all, the man had called it an idol that you pray to, and we had received it. Kathy was immediately afflicted with pain and affliction and thought she was dying that night. She immediately recognized what was happening, and called upon the Lord Jesus to deliver her. Later she called me, we prayed over the house, and got rid of the legal ground and had immediate relief. But the point is that as long as Saul held onto the legal ground, he was powerless against this demonic tormentor. In fact, this verse and verse 14 says that the demon was from the LORD. That probably means that the demon asked permission to afflict, and God said, "OK. Go for it." God no doubt intended it as a discipline to bring Saul to repentance.

Note that David had power to resist demons

The second thing to note is that David had power to resist the demon. They are both believers, but one is powerless and the other has David is not. The demon was in the same room as David, and probably knew that David was a far worse enemy than Saul was. But David was not afflicted by this demon. Instead, when David was called into the room, and he offered up His Psalms, the demon left. We have nothing to fear from Satan. We are mighty in the Lord when we are anointed by the Spirit. Ephesians doesn't call us to stand strong on your own strength. It says to stand strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Ephesians says that when the Lord is with you, Satan cannot touch you.

There is a power to music in spiritual warfare

The third thing to notice is that some music has power over demons. The reverse is also true. Ezekiel 28:13 indicates that Satan is a musical creature, and he uses music for all it is worth to resist God's kingdom. So it isn't just any music that has power over demons. Demons use music against Christians.

I rebuked a Christian one time because he was listening to horrible rock that had absolutely demonic lyrics. He said that he ignored the words and just enjoyed the music. That is impossible. Those blasphemies were infiltrating that person's mind and negatively affecting him. But it was certainly true that he had already given legal ground to demons.

But the point of this passage is that good music has power against Satan. I don't have time to get into this too deeply, but study the book of Revelation some time and notice the relationship between music and spiritual warfare. You will see that the songs of Revelation are powerful tools against Satan.

Back to our passage, perhaps this was the time that he composed some of his warfare psalms that can be used with good effect against demons. Almost all pastors who have had to deal with the demonic have said that they have found good worship music to be something that seems to irritate demons and to loosen their grip upon a person. It is just one of several weapons that we can use in our homes. Have godly worship music playing.

But notice no permanent solution

But when we get to chapter 19 we will see that it is not a permanent solution by itself, and it is certainly not an absolute solution because in that chapter, rather than leaving when David played music, the demon motivated Saul to try to kill David. The demon still hates the music, but he tries to destroy the musician.

But even here in this passage we see that it is not a permanent solution. We see from the word "whenever" that the demon kept coming back to Saul at later times. Saul didn't want true help; he wanted relief. Too many people come to counseling because they want me to whip their spouse into shape, but they are utterly unwilling to repent of their own sins that have contributed to the problems. They are acting like Saul. They want someone to play a harp and make the problem go away without the discomfort required of repentance, humility, restitution, and following God's law. But God is more interested in your repentance and your pursuit of holiness than He is in your comfort. And if you don't repent and follow holiness, He may just keep sending that evil spirit back to you. And if you still act like Saul, He may very well give demons permission to harass, oppress, or in other ways to afflict you and your family, for the purpose of eventually bringing you to repentance. There were some times of half-hearted repentance on the part of Saul, but they were not deep seated or lasting, so he never lost this affliction. We aren't told if God brought him to genuine repentance later, but based on the book of 1John and other passages, I can guarantee that if he was genuinely saved, God used these miserable experiences to turn him around – maybe on that last day of his life. If Saul was not genuinely saved, then he went from the presence and affliction of one demon on earth, into the presence and affliction of millions of demons in hell.


I don't want that to happen to any of you. The only way you can avoid it is by submitting yourself in unconditional surrender to God. That's where salvation begins, and that's where it continues – unconditional surrender. "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling. I can't earn your favor Lord. Instead, I repent, trust, and yield myself today in unconditional surrender to whatever it is You want of me."

And when you do that you will find that any sacrifices that the Lord has you make will be well worth it. David had sacrifices and delays and tests of his faith. But he would say that knowing the glory of God's presence and power in his life made it worth it. Walking in the Spirit transforms everything beyond what our own human minds and powers could do. In a moment we will be singing the hymn "Trust and Obey" which speaks of how wonderful it is to have the Lord with us. May it be your testimony. Amen.

The Lord Was With David. What Happened to Saul? is part of the Life of David series published on September 5, 2010

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