God Opens a Door 1 Samuel 16:14-23
The providence of God is a complex subject and a comforting reality. God, who is the “Blessed Controller of all things,” choreographs the details of our lives. There is no such thing as an accident in the life of the child of God. Rather, the Father is working in our lives to “work all things together for good,” (Romans 8:28) and to make us into folks that He can use.
A part of this fascinating operation known as providence is when God opens and shuts doors of opportunity and of training. In the lives of King Saul and King-elect David we see very clearly this reality at work. Do you remember how at the right time some donkeys got lost in order to bring Saul to Samuel? Now let us consider together how our all-wise God worked out the details to bring a shepherd boy to the court of the king. David was about to begin his on the job training.
When in 1 Samuel last time, we witnessed David’s anointing by Samuel, the Prophet, to be the next king in Israel. God confirms David’s anointing by sending His Spirit to abide upon David. At the same time, “The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.” (1 Samuel 16:14)
While David progressed toward to the place of being king, Saul began his decline. Do you remember when Saul took his first step in becoming king by leading Israel against the Ammonites? We read in I Samuel 11 how the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul.
Through all the years Saul had been king, until the day that David was anointed, Saul enjoyed the divine ability from God’s Spirit to do his job. Now the Spirit of God was taken away and an evil spirit began to plague him.
Some wonder how a holy God could have sent an evil spirit to Saul. Job answers the question. In Job 1 we read of a report session for God’s angels in heaven. Satan come along and God takes the opportunity to brag about Job. Satan then implies Job’s obedience is motivated by the blessing and protection God provides him. Satan insists that if God will take away the hedge of protection He placed around Job, Satan would attack him and Job would curse God. God removed the protection but limited what evil Satan could do.
Suddenly, Job goes from being the richest man on the face of the earth to the poorest. In a very short time, Satan took away his livestock (his assets) and kills Job’s children. How then did Job respond? (Job 1:21-22) “And [Job] said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Job recognized that all that Satan did which was evil came through the hand of His loving God. Satan can be used by God. Still, Satan can never do what God does not allow him to do to us. So, the Bible could correctly say, although Satan undoubtedly authored the tormenting spirit, that God allowed it and it was an evil spirit from God who attacked Saul.
As a rule, God the Holy Spirit had a different kind of ministry in the Old Testament from His ministry today. Today the Holy Spirit indwells every believer permanently. We know this because of passages such as Ephesians 1:13-14. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” In the Old Testament, He only remained upon a believer for empowering to service.
Our attention is arrested by a couple details. At first, Saul gave no indication that he realized that the hand of God had been removed from his life. He did not know that the Spirit of God had departed. Samson was like Saul in this respect. We read in Judges 16:20 when Samson woke after his locks were shorn, “He did not know that the LORD was departed from him.”
Do we dwell close enough to our Lord that if we grieve His heart we are aware we have grieved the Holy Spirit and move quickly to correct the situation? May we be those who can quickly know if we have grieved the Spirit of God.
Second, Saul did not seek the LORD or Samuel His prophet when the troubling spirit came upon him. He probably didn’t think he needed anyone’s help. While Saul did not seek the LORD’s help, we need to be always seeking His help in difficulty. He is always ready to help us.
We have looked at Saul, the failing king. Now let us turn our attention to Yahweh, and His working behind the scenes.
Saul was in a difficult place. Yet, he was unwilling to seek out the prophet of the LORD. The king’s servants make a suggestion to help Saul. (verses 15-16) “And Saul’s servants said to him, ‘Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. 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.’”
God is working behind the scenes to pave the way for David to come to the palace and learn about being king. Notice who immediately comes into the picture when this suggestion was accepted (v. 18). “Then one of the servants answered and said, ‘Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the LORD is with him.’” How did this servant know of a shepherd boy like David? I don’t know. Obviously, David, a son too unimportant to be invited to Samuel’s feast, is not likely to be the first choice for royal musical counsellor. God worked out the details and put David in this man’s mind.
God is a master at opening and closing doors for his servants. God is able to do this for us also. I look back in amazement at the opportunities and training that God gave me.
We looked at Saul and our Lord, now we need to consider David. There are three things we can observe about David in this. First, David was busy carrying out his duties when the Lord’s call came. David was busy doing what he was supposed to be doing in the place that he was when God’s call came to change his job. The principle was stated by the Lord Jesus Himself in Luke 16:10. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”
Second, David was willing to step into the unknown. Don’t you think it was a wee bit scary for him to go to work for the most powerful man in Israel? Sometimes God calls us to leave the comfortable places we have known so well to go to places we’ve never been to do a job for Him.
Finally, David was patient. He was anointed to be the next king. Still, he did not come to the palace to find a way to kill Saul. He was loyal to the king and to his duties.
So, what do we learn from all this? Let me suggest three lessons. Things aren’t always what they appear on the surface. Often God is at work orchestrating the circumstances to accomplish His will in our lives.
God is still the master at opening and shutting doors. Let us ask God to help us to identify the doors He is opening for us and then let us boldly step through them confident that God will go with us through them.
Finally, let us be busy about the job God has given us to do and wait for the Lord to work in our lives.