We find it difficult to accept that God can send ‘evil spirits’, because if God is all ‘good’, how can He send ‘evil’?
The answer is that we misunderstand the meaning of the Hebrew words translated ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
2896 tov, good means something that functions properly
7451 ra’ah, evil means something dysfunctional, wrong, evil or wicked.
The reason that God made both ‘good’ and ‘evil’ was because we cannot assess what is ‘good’ 2896 without measuring it against ‘evil’ 7451
The following references show that God Himself sent evil spirits in at least 5 separate incidents:
1. ‘between Abimelech and the men of Shechem’ in Judges 9.23
2. that ‘troubled Saul’ in 1 Samuel 16,18 & 19
3. that ‘mingled in the midst’ of Egypt in Isaiah 19
4. ‘in the mouth of these prophets’ to persuade Ahab in 2 Chronicles 18 & 1 Kings 22
5. ‘on Ariel (Jerusalem) the spirit of deep sleep’ in Isaiah 29
In all 5 incidents, the recipient of the evil spirit from God was in rebellion to, or opposed to God.
The specific Hebrew word and its meaning and Strong’s No. follows each reference:
1. God sent an evil spirit 7451 between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; Judges 9:23
2. The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit 7451 from the LORD troubled him. Saul’s servants said, ‘Surely, an evil spirit from God is troubling you. Let our master now command your servants, to seek out a man skillful on the harp; and it shall be that he will play it when the evil spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.’ …And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the evil spirit would depart from him…It happened on the next day that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul…The evil spirit came upon Saul as he sat in his house with his spear… 1 Samuel 16:14-23,18.10,19.9
7451 ra’ah means something dysfunctional, wrong, evil or wicked.
3. The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit 5773 in her midst;
5773 aveh The Ancient Hebrew pictograph is a twisted rope indicating a crooked nature
4. So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit 8267 in the mouth of all his prophets…. Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.’ 2 Chronicles 18:20-22, 1 Kings 22:22
8267 sheqer means false or untrue words meant to deceive.
5. The LORD has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep 8639
8639 tardemah means lethargy, trance, deep sleep,
Note: God made both ‘good’ and ‘evil’:
Isaiah 45.7 I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity/evil 7451 ; I, the LORD, do all these.’
Amos 3.6 If there is calamity/evil 7451 in a city, will not the LORD have done it?
God sent the ‘evil spirit’ to Saul to ‘trouble’ Saul. The Hebrew word translated ‘trouble’ is 1204 ba’ath, and it really means ‘to make afraid’, ‘to terrify’. God’s hope was that the evil spirit would so terrify Saul that he would repent of his rebellion against God, and return to Him. Sadly, Saul did not repent, and the pressure of knowing how he had rebelled against God subsequently led him to commit suicide.
The vital point to remember is that God only sent an evil spirit on someone in the Bible when they were in rebellion, or opposed, to Him....BUT He sent the evil spirit for a purpose in His mercy and compassion.