The Dirty Birds

And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him. And Saul’s servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” (1 Sam. 16:12-16)

Does God send evil spirits? …

God is always the “Prime Mover” in Scripture. He speaks, and things happen. Sometimes, God speaks and something bad happens that brings an ultimate good.

Jonathan warned Saul not to kill David, but an evil spirit from the Lord caused him to throw spears once again. David fled and was persecuted so he would not become like Saul. The evil spirit came after repeated warnings. If we continue in sin and harden our hearts, like Pharaoh, God eventually makes us hell bent on our own destruction. We see the same thing in the early chapters of Romans. After repeated rebellion, God gives people up when there is no more that can be done.

Jesus, like Jonathan, warned the Jewish polity. He cleaned Jerusalem of its demon, but warned that if they blasphemed the Spirit – did not receive Him as the replacement – it would return with seven worse demons. And it did. Herod glorified the “house,” and the demons found it clean, decorated and empty. Instead of receiving the Advocate, they received the Accuser.

Judgment begins at the house of God. When God’s people, the mediators, reject His Spirit, Satan rushes in the fill the vacuum and use the church’s authority to deceive. Some of the 20th Century’s worst dictators were the children of ministers of religion, and the first century illustrates this pattern. The Temple became a “speaking idol” (Revelation 13:15). It spewed out a river of false doctrine, but God used even this evil deception to sort out the true saints from the false (1 Cor 11:18-19, Rev 12:15-16).

The demons, like the “dirty birds” and beasts we see so often throughout the Bible as a Covenant curse, are allowed by God at certain times to do what they do by their nature. In this way, they are sent by God. First century Judaism, like Saul, persecuted David the successor. With the departure of the Spirit (signified in the Book of Acts by Jews no longer being able to cast out demons), their ‘Babylon’ became the haunt of dirty birds. Under the curses of the Covenant, the hard hearted would be eaten by the birds and the beasts (Rev. 17:16; 18:2, 19:17-21).

There is an example where there was no warning, however. God pointed Job out to Satan, and gave him free reign over all but Job’s life.

“God uses Satan to further His own gracious purposes for His people… Poor Satan. Just a pawn. God’s errand boy. Terrifying to us, but completely under God’s thumb.” 1

1 Jeffrey J. Meyers, Leviathan and Job, Part 2, BIBLICAL HORIZONS No. 88,

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