We see in 1 Samuel 16:14 that the Lord had departed from Saul and sent a harmful (ESV), distressing (NKJV), or evil (NASB, KJV, CSB, NIV) spirit to torment him. Now, remember, Saul was the king of Israel. He was chosen by the people but had been anointed as King by the Lord. He started out as a faithful king (1 Sam. 11). He defended and protected the Israelites. But he did not stay faithful and dedicated to the Lord.
We see that quickly in his reign he rebelled against God. In 1 Samuel 13, we see that he made an unlawful sacrifice because he became impatient and was not placing his faith in the Lord (1 Sam. 13:8-15). After this, he then did not do all that he was commanded to do by the Lord through Samuel (1 Sam. 15:1-3). We see that he did not follow these orders (1 Sam. 15:4-9). It is here that God was finished with Saul. He had been anointed and was the king but he did not follow the Lord as he should have.
Since he did not do so, the Lord removed His Spirit from him. He was finished blessing him and helping him (1 Sam. 15:10-11). The sad thing is that when Saul was confronted by Samuel, he did not repent and mourn his failings, as he should, but made excuses. He argued that what he did was done for the Lord and not himself. He did not regret what he had done but only that he had been caught (1 Sam. 15:14-34). He does say that he had sinned and requested Samuel to return with him but his confession was only because he had been caught and not in truth. I say this because had he been genuine in his repentance God would have forgiven him, even if he put him through punishment as David received after his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Sam. 11-12).
Saul was not a repentant man after these sinful deeds. As can be seen in all his personal attacks and desires to kill David. Saul was a very self-absorbed man who was only “repentant” because he had been caught. Now, enter the harmful, distressing, or evil spirit.
The departure of the Lord’s Spirit and the setting of this spirit on Saul signals, “Saul is no longer the Lord’s chosen king and will no longer enjoy the Lord’s enablement in battle.” (Chisholm 1&2 Samuel Teach the Text 112). And the setting of the distressing spirit was the signaling that “Saul now is an object of God’s judgment and an enemy of God” (TTC 112). This spirit was the judgment on Saul for his unrepentant efforts and disobedience. He had directly rebelled against the Lord and was not repentant.
A lesson we can learn from this narrative is that we all are capable of rebellion against God. Saul was the anointed King of Israel and he failed. He became about Saul and not the Lord. He wanted his glory rather than God’s glory. Because of this he failed and rebelled and did not repent and return to God. By doing that he was placed under judgment and misery.
This could be you or me. Although it can be, it does not have to be. If you turn against God and rebel. If you decide you know best rather than God. If you decide that what you desire is more important than God, then get caught in this action what you do is very important. You can continue in rebellion and receive judgment, or you can repent and turn back to God and be brought back into fellowship. The choice is yours.
What choice will you make?