Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him. I Samuel 16:14-23 ESV
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:7-12 ESV
Mr. and Mrs. Lang owned a business, and when their son Jerry was old enough they gave him a job helping them run their company. But Jerry wasn’t honest. He stole money from the company and used the property for his own personal fun. He didn’t take care of the work his parents gave him to do. Finally his parents needed to remove him from their business, so they took the keys to his office away from him and took away his legal right to sign papers. They gave his job to someone else who would help them run the company in the way they wanted it to run.
This is what happened to Saul. God had given him the job to be the king of his people, but Saul showed again and again that he wasn’t willing to obey God or do things God’s way. Finally God took what Saul needed to be a good king away from Saul–his Holy Spirit. He gave the Holy Spirit to David instead when David was anointed to be the next king. Without the Holy Spirit to help and protect him, an evil spirit started to bother Saul. Evil spirits are God’s enemies and don’t obey God because they want to help him. But even evil spirits can’t do any harm unless God gives them permission, and he allowed one to trouble Saul. God used this situation to move David closer to the throne, and David’s beautiful music also helped Saul feel better.
Many years later when David was the king, he showed that he also could be disobedient and sinful. One time when he had done something terribly wrong he prayed the prayer we just read from the psalms. He begged God to forgive his sin and not to take the Holy Spirit away from him the way he had taken him away from Saul. God doesn’t give us his Holy Spirit because we obey him perfectly. Only Jesus ever obeyed God perfectly, but Jesus’ perfect life and his death on the cross give us the forgiveness of all our sins. God gives us his Holy Spirit so that we can believe in Jesus and always be willing to come to him for forgiveness. It’s God’s forgiveness every day that keeps us close to him, and the gift of his Holy Spirit that helps us follow God’s ways.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit to help us believe in and follow Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.