A New Covenant, July 2024

As you know, we are in a longer sermon series through the book of First Samuel. Samuel has “retired” as the judge and leader of God’s people. Saul became the first king of Israel, yet he focused on his own glory and made God’s glory second place. Saul was rejected and David was selected as the next king, the anointed one. At the point when Saul is rejected as king, The Lord removes the Holy Spirit from Saul and then “an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.” (1 Sam. 16:14) Both of these actions are worth a deeper dive.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Old Covenant, the relationship between God and his people was based on works. Each had a series of responsibilities and if people didn’t abide by them it would result in the punishment and ultimately the de- parture of the Lord. We see this at work in the life of Saul. He did not abide by the rules of the kingship (Deut. 17:14-20) and so God removed His Spirit from Saul. This is an Old Testament, Old Covenant, problem. In the New Testament, under the New Covenant, we are under grace not works. While in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit departs because of the peoples evil behavior, under the New Covenant the Holy Spirit is an everlasting seal of salvation and eternal life.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. – Eph. 1:13-14

In this way the New Covenant is different from the Old, and we enjoy what Calvin and others called “Eternal Security” or as others call it “once saved always saved”. Some additional verses about this include John 10:27-30, Eph. 1:7-8, Heb. 7:25, and Phil. 1:4-6.

The second part of Saul’s reign is marked by an evil temper and a spiritual tormentor. First Samuel 16:14, 15, 16, 23; 18:10 & 19:9 are some of the mentions of this spiritual tormentor of Saul. This is a very controversial topic, and I am avoiding it during this sermon series. Here are two of the best explanations in my view:
1 – Like Job, God removed his protections from Saul and let the devil test and bother him. And 18:10 refers to false prophecy from the devil with Saul’s behavior being demonic. OR
2 – It was in fact the Holy Spirit (removed as an anointing of kingship but still near) trying to bring about Saul’s repentance.

And 18:10 refers to true divine prophecy, but Saul was so angered by the truth that he lashed out.
Though the complexity of the discussion is interesting, it is not an issue we face today in the church. Because of the Holy Spirit’s new role under grace (resulting in eternal security) we do not face the prospect of the Holy Spirit being taken away. He is the permanent and eternal seal marking us for salvation and eternal life. Praise the Lord.

Grace to you and yours from the Lord Jesus Christ,

Pastor Dave