November 2, 2015

1 Samuel 18:10-30

King Saul’s tragic descent into madness is vividly recorded in 1 Samuel 18 through 31. Already outside of God’s will, Saul allowed his jealousy of David to grow and fester until it completely consumed him.

A clinical case study from the University of Negev (Israel), stated that an “evaluation of the passages referring to King Saul’s disturbed behavior indicates that he was afflicted by a mental disorder.” The case study explains that Saul’s manic episodes with psychotic phases followed by periods of major depression lead them to speculate that he suffered from bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, or possibly both.

The troublesome phrase “an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul” which is repeated several times throughout Saul’s story, is more than likely referring to the curses God warned the Israelites he would inflict upon them if they were disobedient in Deuteronomy 28:15-68, madness listed specifically among them in 28:28-29.

While it is important to note that all of the curses listed in Deuteronomy 28 were delivered under the Old Covenant of the Law and do not apply to all of us living under the New Covenant of grace through Jesus Christ, Saul’s tragic story of mental instability related to sinful behavior still applies to us today. People suffer from chronic depression and paranoia because of alcohol and drug abuse; mental illness can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases; and envy, just like Saul envied David, has scientifically been proven to cause depression.