Spiritual Warfare - Lesson 8

King Saul and Demon Possession

From these passages, you gain a deeper understanding of how the Bible portrays the actions of God, which sometimes involve using unconventional methods to fulfill His purposes. The analysis challenges common interpretations of spirits in these stories, emphasizing the importance of not building theological doctrines or Deliverance ministries solely based on single verses that may be enigmatic or contextually limited. These passages illustrate that God's ways can be mysterious and may involve using negative experiences or entities for divine discipline or judgment. Thus, you should approach these narratives with an open mind and avoid overly specific or dogmatic interpretations when the biblical context is not clear.

Gerry Breshears
Spiritual Warfare
Lesson 8
Watching Now
King Saul and Demon Possession

I. Saul and David

A. Parallel Origin Stories

B. Saul's Downfall

C. David's Response to Sin

II. Samuel 16: Anointing of David

A. God's Rejection of Saul

B. Samuel's Visit to Bethlehem

C. David's Introduction

D. God's Focus on the Heart

E. Jesse's Sons and David's Selection

F. David's Appearance and Health

III. The Nature of the "Evil Spirit"

A. Debating the Nature of the Evil Spirit

B. Paranoia as an Alternative Interpretation

C. God's Use of Evil to Punish Evil

IV. Lessons in Hermeneutics

A. Focusing on What the Bible Says

B. Avoiding Overinterpretation of Enigmatic Passages

C. Comparing with Other Scripture for Context

D. Trusting in God's Sovereign Use of All Things

  • Discover Dr. Breshears' journey from science to spiritual warfare, debunking scientific explanations for demons. Unveil a seminary student's anxiety battle, uncover curses, theological misconceptions, and inner demonic voices. Prepare for a course on spiritual warfare and staying loyal to God.
  • Gain insights into worldviews within Christianity, including polytheism, American monotheism, and Christian monotheism. Explore the nature of spiritual beings and idols.
  • Gain knowledge of the biblical context of spiritual warfare, the role of supernatural powers in Egypt, the warnings against foreign gods, and the heavenly battles involving angels, emphasizing the importance of exclusive worship of Yahweh and the dangers of idolatry.
  • You'll gain insight into spiritual warfare through Genesis 11, where human defiance led to the scattering of nations and involvement of angelic beings.
  • You will gain insight into a distinct biblical interpretation that views the universe's creation as an act of shaping Eden within a pre-existing cosmic war, and the role of humans in this ongoing battle by cultivating goodness and order to combat evil and chaos.
  • In this lesson, the story of Adam and Eve is analyzed within the context of spiritual warfare, highlighting the serpent's strategy to question God's goodness and encourage independence, while God responds with a call to confession and hints at a future Messiah's role in redemption.
  • This lesson offers an insightful interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4, presenting the "Sons of God" as angelic beings who sinned by marrying humans, leading to the Nephilim, linking this perspective to New Testament passages and the symbolism of baptism as a victory declaration against evil forces, deepening your understanding of the nuanced interpretation of these biblical passages and their importance in Christianity.
  • The passages reviewed in this lesson reveal a unique portrayal of God's actions, using unconventional methods. Challenge common interpretations, caution against single-verse doctrines. Embrace the mystery of God's ways, avoiding rigid interpretations when context is unclear.
  • This lesson reviews a passage in Colossians, offering insights into spiritual warfare and the dichotomy between the kingdoms of light and darkness, emphasizing believers' rescue from darkness into the kingdom of the Son of God, forgiveness of sins, and the essential elements of faith, all of which are vital for confronting demonic accusations and oppression.
  • Learn the core of Ephesians: spiritual warfare, dedication to God vs. Satan, moral maturity, and becoming Christ's partner. Emphasizes unity, living in light, using God's Word, and the power of prayer in this battle.
  • Learn to resist the temptations of the world and the devil by humbling yourself, casting anxiety on God, being self-controlled, alert, and standing firm in faith as taught in James and 1 Peter, emphasizing the importance of using your strengths for God's kingdom and opposing pressures and distortions from the enemy to avoid being devoured.
  • This lesson highlights the significance of facing spiritual forces in Jesus' name, stressing that authority alone isn't enough. Faith, confidence, and prayer-driven competence are vital for effective spiritual warfare. It inspires you to confront spiritual battles like Jesus did, with authority and unwavering faith.
  • This lesson delves into a biblical narrative highlighting Jesus' authority over evil spirits. It emphasizes the transformative power of His deliverance and the profound change it can bring to those tormented by demonic influence.
  • This lesson provides deep insights into Satan's fall in the Bible, covering Old Testament passages (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28) linked to it, addressing their ambiguity. It also discusses withholding Satan's name due to his evil nature and how Jesus broke his authority in the New Testament, though he remains a threat to believers.
  • This lesson delves into the intricate dynamics between believers, demons, and the world in the biblical context. You'll uncover Satan's mysterious role in Judas's betrayal of Jesus, posing questions about the motivations and divine alignment in this pivotal event.
  • This lesson equips you with the knowledge of how Jesus confronted temptation and spiritual warfare, emphasizing three essential steps: quoting Scripture to the devil, commanding the devil to leave in Jesus' name, and shifting your focus from demonic attack to Jesus' provision.
  • This lesson explores 3 Deliverance Ministry models: 1) Classic - resist Satan's temptations, 2) Power Encounter - deal with sin before casting out demons, 3) Truth Encounter - dispel lies, reclaim identity in Christ. Dr. Breshears prefers the Truth Encounter model while allowing for diverse biblical approaches.
  • This lesson provides comprehensive insights on dealing with the demonic from a biblical perspective, emphasizing the triumph of Jesus over Satan, the ongoing spiritual battles, the importance of faith in the midst of adversity, and the need to follow biblical patterns while avoiding unnecessary fascination with evil and excessive fearfulness.
  • This lesson explores demons and Satan's impact on believers, emphasizing that even righteous individuals can face their influence. It reveals how deception, curses, and accusations can create strongholds in belief systems, perpetuated by Satan. Demons exploit weaknesses, desires, and ignorance, leading to destructive behaviors. The lesson ends with the assurance that believers are never abandoned by the Holy Spirit.
  • From this lesson, you will gain insight into the Dr. Breshear's approach to identifying potential demonic influence in people's lives, focusing on areas like accusing voices, oppressive presence, and occult involvement. He emphasizes the importance of assessing these influences when individuals face issues like anxiety, addiction, or persistent problems. By probing into their experiences and thoughts, the goal is to recognize and address these negative influences, ultimately seeking to remove them from the person's life.
  • This lesson provides insights into assessing potential demonic influence in individuals' lives, offering strategies to distinguish personal issues from demonic influences and empower individuals to confront and overcome such challenges with the authority of Jesus Christ.
  • From this lesson, you will gain insight into the controversial topic of demonic influence and possession within Christianity. The lesson explores the various meanings of "possessed" and the debate surrounding whether a Christian can be dominated or influenced by a demon. It emphasizes that while ownership by a demon is generally denied, the extent of demonic influence remains debated.
  • You will learn a comprehensive approach to address demons in a pastoral setting, emphasizing individual empowerment, cooperation, and the transformative potential of confronting these malevolent forces to achieve freedom and healing.
  • This lesson discusses curses, demonic attacks, and their real-life impact. It highlights curses arising from disobedience, similar to God's curse in the Bible. The lesson promotes rejecting curses and dedicating spaces to God while emphasizing that curses have power only when received, suggesting turning to Jesus for protection and deliverance.
  • Explor the nature, influence, and tactics of demons, dispelling myths of immunity in the US. While prayer and fasting aren't mandatory, living as children of light and invoking Jesus' name is key. Demons may exploit unconfessed sin, deceive, and dwell in specific places. Believers confront them with Jesus' authority, engaging in spiritual warfare to deliver the oppressed.

There is an ongoing battle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. Followers of Jesus, who are in the kingdom of light, have been given authority by God to command demons. By studying Jesus' life and other passages in scripture, we can gain insights into how to respond to the influence of demons effectively.


Spiritual Warfare
Dr. Gerry Breshears
King Saul and Demon Possession
Lesson Transcript



Well, speaking of strange stories, there are a lot of them in the Bible, and they intrigue me to no end. Saul is a guy that when you parallel Saul and David, their origin stories are almost exactly the same. They're selected by God, they're transformed by the Holy Spirit, they both win a decisive battle that's a miraculous win, and that puts them in as king of Israel. Of course, Saul's cracked and goes downhill pretty quickly, and a key thing, he did not handle his sin well at all, even though the sin is not a huge sin, he can't deal with it. David, on the contrary, has horrible sin in his life, but deals with it as grace. That's a different story. The story that I want to look in is 1 Samuel 16. This is after Saul has been cast aside by God and he's lost. He's withdrawn his Holy Spirit from him, the anointing spirit that gives him power to be king.

1 Samuel 16, The Lord said to Samuel, "How long have you mourned for Saul?" "I rejected him. Go, let's go anoint a new king." Samuel says, "Well, I can't do it because if Saul hears about it, he'll kill me." "Oh, okay, well take a heifer instead to come to sacrifice to the Lord." Wait a minute, you're going to anoint a king. What do you mean sacrifice? Its not like God wants him to deceive something. Well, that's another question. So, Samuel did what the Lord said. Good idea. You're to Bethlehem, [inaudible 00:01:35] tremble. "Do you come in peace?" You know when a powerful guy comes, you want to know what he's up to? "Yep, I'm coming in peace." Consecrated Jesse, they arrived, sure the Lord. So, he knows there's somebody here to anoint. God's already told him that, and when he gets to Jesse's house, he sees Elia and says, "Oh man, here is the guy. Look at this guy. He's just amazing."

Lord said, "Nah, not the guy." Do not consider his appearance's height before I rejected him. The Lord does not look at things people look at. He looks downward, the Lord looks at the heart. So, Jesse calls another son, nah. He calls another son, nah, calls another son, nah, calls another son, nah, calls another son. Finally, Saul says, "Got any more sons?" And I can just imagine Jesse thinking, "What in the world is with you, old man? I've shown you seven fine sons and you don't like any of them. Now, you want to know if I got anymore."

"Well, I actually do. The youngest, he's tending sheep. He's not here right now," and Samuel immediately sends for him. He will not sit down until he arrives. So David, the youngest, is out in the field tending sheep. Now, David's not a wee little boy. David's a pretty tough young man as we find out later. So, he sent for him and look at this, he's glowing in health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. He's a good-looking dude too. In fact, he's really commended in the story. I thought God didn't look on the outward appearance, didn't that say that? But here it makes a point of this is a guy that's been to the gym and he's really looking good. The Lord said, "Rise and anoint him. This is the one."

Now, put yourself in place of David. You're out doing your sheep duty. Somebody comes from daddy and says, "Hey, daddy want you in here. Come on quick, hurry." Okay, so you hand the sheep off to somebody and you come running into the place and you walk in. Here's some old dude, takes a horn of oil and dumps it on your head. "What in the world is going on here?" You're saying, I'm sure. Oh my gosh. Anyway, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed [inaudible 00:04:01] and sat down.

The spirit Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel [inaudible 00:04:07]. Now, the spirit Lord had come powerfully on Saul as well, but look what happened, verse 14. This is the verse I want to look at. "Now, the spirit of Lord had departed from Saul and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him." A demon from the Lord to torment Saul? It's what it says. The spirit of the Lord, which we would understand be the third person of the trinity, the Trinity isn't developed in the Old Testament yet, but the spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul because of his sin and his refusal to deal with it well, and an evil spirit also from the Lord tormented you.

So, what does it say about demonic stuff? That would say that God can use demons as instruments of his discipline, that God would send a demon to torment somebody for his purposes. That just grates on me more than a little bit, but an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. "Saul attends an evil spirit and God has tormenting you. Let the Lord command and serve someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit of God comes and you will feel better." So, the solution for demon tormenting or whatever you call it, demonizing, demon possession, but demon tormenting is to get somebody who's a really good musician who can play some nice praise songs and that will deal with the demon.

Well, okay, so praise songs well sung will deal with demonic possession. Fascinating. I thought we had to cast them out or something like that. No, just play some good music, that'll take care of it. You can see this is kind of strange and it is, but here's what I want you to do. This term, evil spirit, [foreign language 00:06:50], [foreign language 00:06:50] is spirit, [foreign language 00:06:52] bad or evil is also used one other place in the Old Testament, and that one other place in the Old Testament is Judges chapter nine, started about verse 20. You've got this fight going on between the citizens of Shechem and Abimelek.

22, "After Abimelek had governed Israel for three years, God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem, so they acted treacherous against Abimelek." Look at verse 23, "God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and citizens of Shechem, so that he acted treacherous against Abimelek." Now if you're paying attention, you say, "Why'd you take me to that verse, Gerry? There's no evil spirits here." Well, there is. NIV translates exactly the same phrase, [foreign language 00:07:56] as animosity not evil spirit.

Now NIV, remember, translates more meaning for meaning than word for word, and again, that's too big a difference. NIV is a really good translation except when it isn't. I've got animosity with all the translations at some points, but NIV is a great translation, but it translates here [foreign language 00:08:19], not evil spirit as in 1 Samuel 16, but as animosity. You say, "How can that be?" Well, evil, bad spirit can be an angelic spirit or it can be a mind or mindset. So, a bad mindset would be crabby or animosity or fearful or something like that. So [foreign language 00:08:46] can be evil angel, evil spiritual being, or it could be a bad mind, paranoid spirit.

And in Judges, the only other place in the Old Testament this particular phrase appears, it's animosity in NIV. Now if you look in ESV, it will translate it of course as God sent an evil spirit between Abimelek, and if you look at others, it'll vary somewhat. A lot of them won't be that, but when you look at this, God sent an evil spirit, a demonic spirit between Abimelek and citizens of Shechem? That makes no sense. It makes no sense whatsoever to say God sent a demon between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem. It just makes no sense, and that's why NIV I think correctly translates as animosity or hostile contentiousness. They hated each other. Now, come back to 1 Samuel 16. 1 Samuel 16:14, "Now, the spirit of Lord departed from Saul and animosity tormented him, paranoia tormented him." And when you look at the various translations, ESV 1 Samuel 16:14, the word for word more literal translation says a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. Not an evil spirit, a harmful spirit.

If you go to New living, the Lord sent a tormenting spirit. If you go to the message, Eugene Peterson's... Can you call it translation? No, it's not a translation, it's an interpretive reading that's creative. Anyway, he translates this at that very moment, spirit of God blesses Saul and in his place a black mood sent by God settled on him. He was terrified. Actually, Peterson got it right. I think he exactly got it right. This is not a demon, this is a bad mindset, and I think Peterson actually got this idea of it. He just was in a bad way. He was paranoid of David. Why was he in the verse 15, this awful tormenting depression from God makes your life miserable? Play the harp when the black mood from God moves in and he'll play his music and you'll feel better. Now, that actually makes sense.

If I'm depressed and somebody comes in and plays some good music, it may help me feel better. They didn't have antidepressants in those days. That actually makes sense, and I think that's actually what's happening here is God sends a bad mind as a judgment on sin because of Saul's sin and refusal to admit it. And that's why you play music when this comes to overcome the paranoia. And when of course he finds out that David is a good harp player, as well as a pretty good shepherd, and he comes in and it works out really well... When the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play, then relief would come to Saul, he would feel better and the evil spirit would leave him. And you see a thing... Saul has played in his thousands, David is playing 10,000s and Saul grabs a spear and tries to put it in David, that's paranoia. This guy's going to cut me off and lose my kingdom.

So, I think what's happening here, and here's where I'd come out, whether you come out with this as a demon or you come out as a tormenting depression or whatever, I think it's the latter. I think it's he's just paranoid and God enhances his paranoia as a torment on him to punish him for sin. Of course, Saul continued to decline. So I think what happens here, and the thing I'd pull out of this just to make a strong statement in terms of how you deal with demonic stuff, I see a lot of people looking at this passage for Samuel 16:14, spirit, Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit from Saul tormented him to say, when the Holy Spirit leaves, then there's nice room for a demon spirit to come and live, and you make a statement about that. If the Holy Spirit's here, then a demon spirit can't be there, and that doesn't say this.

Some would say, "Demons can come, but God sends them in order to torment you. God disciplines using demons." Well, this is unique in scripture. You find something exactly like that. We'll look at the thorn in the flesh later. Be very careful about building a major plank of your deliverance ministry on one verse that is enigmatic at best. And that compared to Judges 9:23, the only other use of this phrase in the Old Testament, it does not mean demon in Judges 9:23. It just makes no sense. And again, hermeneutically big thing, do not build a heart of your deliverance ministry dealing with demons from one verse that's out of sync with the rest of them, that big thing.

And I do think this is more about paranoia than it is about demons is where I come. That's a messy passage, isn't it? But you find that coming up several times, an evil spirit comes upon him and he wants to put a spear in David. One other thing, we're doing bizarre passages from the Old Testaments. Talk about a strange passage, 1 Kings 22. You've got Aram and Israel... Third year, this is 1 Kings 22, "Third year, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel." So, Judah is the southern kingdom, Israel's the northern kingdom, and Jehoshaphat goes to see the king of Israel who is unnamed at this point.

Let's go grab Ramoth-Gilead. So, Jehoshaphat said, "Well, okay, will you go with me to find against Ramoth-Gilead?" And Jehoshaphat says to the king of Israel, "Well, let's check it out," but Jehoshaphat also said, "Let's see what God has in mind. Let's seek the counsel of the Lord before we go into battle here." So, the king of Israel brought together the prophets, 400 prophets and said, "Shall I go to war with Ramoth-Gilead or shall I refrain?" "Go," they said, "For the Lord will give it in the king's hands." Now remember, the king of Israel is a bad guy. Jehoshaphat is a relatively good guy, not great, but compared to Ahab he's outstanding.

"Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord that we can inquire of?" Because he figures out these guys, I don't think they're like channeling Yahweh. The king of Israel said, "Well, there's one prophet, inquirer of the Lord, but I hate him because he never says anything good about me." So, some of the contemporary political figures. "Micaiah, the son of Imlah, but he hates me." "The king should not say such a thing," Jehoshaphat replied, "Because if this guy's channeling God, you might want to pay attention." So the king called one... "Bring Micaiah, son of Imlah in." This is a funny story. So, here's the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, and they're sitting there and they're having all the good stuff going on and they go get Micaiah.

And they say, verse 12, "The other prophets are prophesying the same thing, attack Ramoth-Gilead and be victorious, the Lord given your hands." A messenger had come to Micaiah, come and said, "This is what's happening. Let your word agree with theirs and speak favorably. Here's the message we want you to give." And Micaiah says, "As surely the Lord lives, I can only tell him what the Lord tells me." This sound like a good guy to me. "So in your eyes, Micaiah, should we go to Ramoth-Gilead or not?" This is funny, off the charts, "Attack and be victorious for the Lord will give it in the king's hands," Micaiah says.

The king said, "How many times must I tell you to swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?" He catches the sarcasm in Micaiah's tone of voice, even though Micaiah is saying what he wants him to say and calls him on the sarcasm. So Micaiah answered, "So all Israel scattered in the hills without the shepherd, without a sheep, people have no master. Let each one go home in peace." What's he saying? The king's going to get killed. And the king, "I told you this guy hated me."

Oh, my political intrigue, but here's the thing that's bizarre. Verse 19, Micaiah continued, "Therefore, hear the word of the Lord." Now, he's putting this in bold print, underlined, pay attention, "I saw Yahweh sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him and his left and his right." Who are these multitudes of heaven? Who are the multitudes of heaven? Well, that's the angel armies, [inaudible 00:19:06] Jude and other places. The Lord of hosts, the heavenly host that show up to denounce the birth of Jesus.

"I saw the Lord and the multitudes of heaven standing around his right and his left. And the Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth-Gilead and going to his death there?" He says to the angels, "Who will entice Ahab to attack Ramoth-Gilead, so he'll get killed?" One suggested, another suggested that, so they're giving him suggestions. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, "I will entice him." "Oh, okay, how?" The Lord says, verse 22, "I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all of his prophets." "Good idea," God says. "Go do it."

So, now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you. What is this saying? And of course, Zakiah goes up and slaps Micaiah and all this kind of stuff and Micaiah says, "Well, check it out." He leaves and Ramoth-Gilead is attacked and Ahab ends up dead by a surprise arrow. What is God doing here, to send a deceiving spirit to entice Ahab to attack Ramoth-Gilead where he'll get killed? Does that kind of grate on you? Well, first of all, it's in the Bible. I got to go that direction. What is that?

[inaudible 00:20:55].

Ahab is a bad guy. Of the bad guys in the Old Testament, he's kind of the baddest of the bad guys, and God is using deception and evil to judge a deceptive evil person. We find that happening not uncommonly. God uses evil to destroy evil. And this angel, I don't think it's a demon, I think it's an angel says, "I'll go do the good work to entice him." So, can an angel do that kind of work? I think so. I don't think this is a demon. I don't think this deceiving spirit is a demon on the dark side. I think it's an angel doing God's work to use evil to destroy evil. And God very creatively gets Ahab dead and achieves a victory, but the thing of it is here, he says, "You're going to get killed," and then he tells him what's happening in heaven, why his prophets are saying something different. He's giving him a faithful presentation, but it's a strange story. It is a strange story.

So, what I find as a lesson out of this is I never am in the spot of saying, "No, God would not do that," especially when the Bible says he's doing that. I think I may not be understanding what's happening here, but again, this lesson, fundamental thing for what I'm thinking in terms of this course is we've got to let the Bible describe who God is and what he does. And I need to bring my understanding in line with what he's doing instead of saying, "Nah, that's not going to happen." So, that's where I would come out on this. So, I do think the deceiving spirit here is a good angel doing God's bidding to judge a very evil guy for his evilness.

So, the prophets that he was speaking to must have been the prophets that were around Ahab already telling him what he wanted to hear on a consistent basis.

Yeah, the prophets... We don't know what they were doing prior to this event, but they were positive toward Ahab on the whole, but they were giving divine messages to him. In this case, the message they give is from this deceptive spirit where they always listening to deceiving spirits. They're also listening to... There's so much we don't know here. We do know what happened in this one case, and I want to... Quite a few more details that God didn't think I need to know, but a hermeneutical thing for me in these kinds of stories is to think God is telling a story to focus my attention here. And I keep going to say, "Yeah, but what about that?" And the thing is hermeneutically, don't worry about that, meditate on this. And I think that's something that Satan uses a lot. Well, what about that? And takes our attention off what the Bible says for us to ponder, take it onto something the Bible doesn't speak to, and that can be a really misleading way of doing things. Strange story. Yelzer?

And just to make sure I understand, the reason we're covering this is that in the whole discussion of spiritual warfare, these two passages don't have anything to say.

Yes, they do not tell me how to do spiritual warfare today. 1 Samuel 16, I find a lot of people building a lot of stuff on how to deal with demonic stuff off this strange story with Saul, and I don't think it's helpful at all. This other one is there are demons up there that God uses to accomplish his bidding. I don't think Jesus or God ever works directly through demons, but others see the demons are God's demons and they do his bidding only.

So, that may be close to Job where these demons are allowed [inaudible 00:25:00]-

[inaudible 00:25:00] next topic.

And I was thinking a human parallel is Isaiah's complaint that God's using Cyrus, that Cyrus was going to come and was going to be God's... How could you do that? But God can use what he wants to do to accomplish his purposes, the human parallel.

God uses a very bad guy, Cyrus, to punish Babylon who are also bad guys as God prophesied that he would. So Cyrus, nobody has... God's a good guy. In fact, in... Where was it? Isaiah 45, when it's talking about that, it identifies him as a bad guy, but God uses a bad guy to accomplish his purposes, but he's doing good when he's accomplishing God's purpose. Don't over build from enigmatic passages is a key thing to do.