“Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand” (1 Samuel 19:9 ESV).
Saul was Israel’s first human king. He was supposed to lead Israel in obedience to God. Unfortunately, time and again, he disobeyed himself and lead Israel in disobedience. Because of this, God stripped Saul of his reign and declared that Saul was going to be replaced. When God rejected Saul as king, God send a “harmful spirit” to torment Saul. It was often this spirit that lead Saul seek the life of David, the next chosen king.
It might be hard for us to imagine harm coming to us from our loving Father, but it is important to remember here that Saul rejected God first. He wanted God’s blessings without having to do all the work of obedience. It was Saul’s disobedience that lead to his downfall and his torment. And we all know that an important part of earthly fatherhood is discipline. Heavenly Fatherhood is no different. God will discipline His children.
God’s creation is His to use for His will. We often speak of “free will” but many of us do not know what that means. It means that we are given the right to choose to obey. We are not given the right to choose whether or not we are used by God. God will use all of us according to His will. The choice for us is whether we are used willingly (like Abraham or David) or unwillingly (like Pharaoh or King Saul). Either way, God will accomplish His goal. I know which I would rather.
Another thing to learn from Saul is that Saul’s choice for disobedience not only hurt him, but everyone around him: Saul’s son, Jonathan, and his daughter, Michal, David, and all of Israel. We often think that our sin is our own and we harm no one but ourselves, but often the ripples of our actions spread out farther than we will ever known. Thankfully, our good choices also have similar ripples.