Verse 23. "The evil spirit from God" - The word evil is not in the common Hebrew text, but it is in the Vulgate, Septuagint, Targum, Syriac, and Arabic, and in eight of Kennicott's and Deuteronomy Rossi's MSS., which present the text thus: h[r µyhla jwr ruach Elohim raah, spiritus Domini malus, the evil spirit of God. The Septuagint leave out qeou, of God, and have pneuma ponhron, the evil spirit. The Targum says, The evil spirit from before the Lord; and the Arabic has it. The evil spirit by the permission of God; this is at least the sense.
"And the evil spirit departed from him." - The Targum says, And the evil spirit descended up from off him. This considers the malady of Saul to be more than a natural disease.
THERE are several difficulties in this chapter; those of the chronology are pretty well cleared, in the opinion of some, by the observations of Bishop Warburton; but there is still something more to be done to make this point entirely satisfactory. Saul's evil spirit, and the influence of music upon it, are not easily accounted for. I have considered his malady to be of a mixed kind, natural and diabolical; there is too much of apparent nature in it to permit us to believe it was all spiritual, and there is too much of apparent supernatural influence to suffer us to believe that it was all natural.