Avoiding the obvious?

A lot of these Ogoh-ogoh monsters are set on fire in order to get the Bhuta Kala, evil spirits, out of our lives - by pakec

As an INFP (on the MBTI) I naturally tend to avoid obvious solutions in favour of more “creative” ones – often to the exasperation of innocent bystanders, like parents, spouse, colleagues and in more recent days children. As a preacher, this tendency means that I have seldom treated the familiar Sunday School Story passages. I even once did a series on “The Censored Bible: Books you have never before heard preached“. We (or I at least) had great fun with Obadiah, Song of Songs, and the like :) I even once preached on the stirring story of Micah (no, not the prophet, the hero in Judges 17-18 ;)

This failure means that it comes as quite a shock working through the E100 series of readings for my 5 Minute Bible podcasts. First it was stories like the escape from Egypt, with the slaughter of innocent Egyptian babies, now it’s David and Goliath (well actually it’s 1 Sam 16, but the two are part of the same E100 reading, picked so the titles suggest because of the good old sunday school story). 1 Sam 16 uses the word רוַּח “spirit” more often than any other chapter. Clearly the divine spirit leaving Saul, and inspiring David, is a major theme. But perhaps more striking is the use here (and only elsewhere in the fun story of Micaiah ben-Imlah) of terms like “evil spirit” and “evil spirit from God”.

Oops! Now how will I discuss that one in 5 minutes?

What would you say to people using E100 to get a quick overview of the Bible about Saul’s “evil spirit of God” (1 Sam 16:16)?

3 comments on “Avoiding the obvious?

  1. Wayne Leman

    I *could* tell them that they need to work to change their MBTI profile. But I wouldn’t, of course. Hmm. I don’t know if it’s possible to deal with the difficult issues in “evil spirit of/from God” in 5 minutes, unless you are willing to tell your audience that we don’t fully understand what kind of spirit this was and how God could be related to it. Give them a verbal footnote to read a longer piece you have written wrestling with the issues of the term. INFP, eh? Only two parameters different from me.

  2. Bob MacDonald

    I have been reading Robert Alter – The Art of Biblical Narrative and at this very moment I happen to be on 1 Samuel 16 – p 93ff if you have the book. The key is in the key words – Saul refuses to listen to the voice of God, preferring the voice of the sheep and the voice of the people – then the keyword changes to see – that Samuel might see what the true king is. Are there any keywords that would move the 5 minute thingy along? I think re the evil spirit from the Lord that if you address the issue – let it be up front. Who else do we wrestle with? Seems to me to be quite consistent throughout the witness of Israel.

  3. Nate

    Saul was jealous, he lashed out. How does the OT author explain that? Must have been an evil spirit from God. David rises and Saul falls. Why? Must have been the spirit of God. It looks to me as if the writer(s) of Samuel are trying to see God in all phases of the story. Much like we do today when events happen and later we start to interpret God’s hand in the event(s). We might be right in our interpretation, but…we might be wrong as well.