Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 16:15

Saul's servants then said to him, "Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Demons;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Diseases;   Music;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Jesse;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Disease;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - David;   Demon;   Disease;   Evil;   Psalms, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Prayer;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - David;   Samuel, the Books of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Samuel, Books of;   Saul;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Bethlehem;   David;   Samuel, Books of;   Saul;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Exorcism;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jesse ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Music;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Kingdom of christ of heaven;   Kingdom of god;   Kingdom of heaven;   Saul;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Da'vid;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - David;   Jesse;   Psalms, Book of;   Samuel, Books of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Exorcism;   Samuel, Books of;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The “evil” or “melancholy” spirit here spoken of was “the Spirit of God,” or “of Jehovah,” as being God‘s messenger and minister, sent by Him to execute His righteous purpose upon Saul (see 1 Kings 22:19-22 note).

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-samuel-16.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Saul's servants said unto him,.... His courtiers, who observing him to act in a frantic manner, to be dull and melancholy, timorous, and irresolute, unsteady, divided, and distressed; or his physicians, who were called in to assist him, and remove his disorder from him:

behold, now an evil spirit from God troubleth thee: the disorder was not from any natural cause, or any bodily disease, and therefore out of the reach of physicians to do any service, but was from an evil spirit suffered of God to harass and disturb him.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-samuel-16.html. 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 16:15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.

Ver. 15. And Saul’s servants.] That is, His physicians. "And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians." [Genesis 50:2] Yεραποντας θεραπευοντας.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-samuel-16.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Samuel 16:15. Saul's servants said, &c.— The remainder of this chapter is undoubtedly an anticipation, but introduced by the sacred historian very properly and very naturally; for, having related at large how God had rejected Saul, and anointed David, he goes on (as it was a matter of the utmost moment in a religious history,) to inform us of the effects both of one and the other; though we are not to suppose them the instantaneous effects. The effects of Saul's rejection were, he tells us, the departure of God's spirit from him, and his being troubled with an evil spirit. This leads him naturally to speak of the effects of David's election, namely, his being endowed with many divine graces. So that the true chronology of this part of David's life stands thus: He is anointed by Samuel; he carries provisions to his brethren; he fights and overcomes Goliath; is received in the king's court; contracts a friendship with Jonathan; incurs Saul's jealousy; retires home to his father; is after some time sent for to soothe Saul's melancholy with his harp; proves successful, and is made his armour-bearer, and again excites Saul's jealousy, who endeavours to smite him with his javelin. This anticipation between the 14th and 23rd verses of this chapter, comes in, in the order of time, between 1 Samuel 16:9-10 of chap. 18: Div. Leg. vol. 3: p. 356.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-samuel-16.html. 1801-1803.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.An evil spirit’ troubleth thee — A demon like those mentioned so frequently in the New Testament, sent by permission of the Lord, as Satan in the case of Job. Job 2:7. See notes on Matthew 4:24, and Mark 5:2. It is not only by Saul’s servants, but by the sacred writer himself, that we are told it was an evil spirit from the Lord; so we cannot regard it as merely a superstitious and mistaken notion of Saul’s physicians. Compare 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:9. But while he thus became possessed by a supernatural evil power, it is very likely that a mental disease bordering on insanity was the substratum on which the evil spirit worked. After Samuel’s last words of judgment the king could not be happy in his kingdom. The more he thought upon his doom, the more it harrowed up his soul. It was, perhaps, his highest ambition to be the father of a race of kings, and to have this hope suddenly dashed from him was to have darkness settle over all his life. “The Hebrew mind so linked itself to the future by the contemplation of posterity that it is scarcely possible to us, with our looser attachment to the time beyond ourselves, to apprehend, in all its intensity, the deep distress of mind with which any Hebrew, and much more a king, regarded the prospect that there would be no son of his succeeding.” — Kitto. Saul’s future gradually became full of ghostly images, and when, disengaged at times from the excitements of war and the cares of government, he sat down to think upon his darkened fortunes, his mind and heart, forsaken of all divine influences from Jehovah, became an easy prey to foul suspicions and gloomy fears — a most inviting state for demoniacal possession. The evil spirit, entering and revelling amid these mental disorders, carried him at times to the wildest height of madness.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-samuel-16.html. 1874-1909.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

God. Hebrew. Elohim (App-4). Saul"s servants not in communion with Jehovah, the Covenant God. App-4.

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-samuel-16.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.

Saul's servants said unto him. The Hebrew physicians knew of no remedy for a malady of the sort but music, which 'has charms to soothe the savage breast;' and accordingly they advised to obtain the services of a person skillful in instrumental music.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-samuel-16.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) An evil spirit from God.—The form in which the evil spirit manifested itself in Saul was apparently an incurable melancholy, which at times blazed forth in fits of uncontrollable jealous anger. When Saul’s attendants, his officers, and those about his person, perceived the mental malady under which their king was evidently suffering, they counselled that he should try whether the evil influence which troubled him could not be charmed away by music.

There is no doubt but that King Saul’s nervous, excitable temperament was peculiarly subject to such influences. We have some striking instances of this power exercised by sacred music over the king in the incidents related in 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 19:23-24, where the songs and chaunts of the pupils of the prophetic schools had so powerful an influence over Saul. The solemn declaration of God through his prophet Samuel, that the kingdom was taken away from him and his house, weighed upon his naturally nervous and excitable mind. He became gloomy, and suspicious of his dearest friends, and, as we know, at times sought to take their lives; at times would command terrible massacres, such as that of the priests at Nob (1 Samuel 22:17-19). As the sad life advanced, we see the nobler traits in his character growing fainter, and the evil becoming more and more obvious. It was a species of insanity, fatal alike to the poor victim of the malady and to the prosperity of the kingdom over which he ruled. History gives us not a few similar instances of monarchs given up to the “evil spirit from God,” and who, in consequence, became a prey to insanity in one form or other.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 16:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-samuel-16.html. 1905.