Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

God Hands the Abuser Over to Evil – And it is Right to Escape

Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on. Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand. Saul hurled the spear for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David escaped from his presence twice. Now Saul was afraid of David, for the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence and appointed him as his commander of a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. David was prospering in all his ways for the LORD was with him. When Saul saw that he was prospering greatly, he dreaded him. (1Sa 18:9-15)

My thanks to a friend who called this Scripture to my attention. King Saul is a clear picture of a RASN, of an abuser lusting for power and control, and there are important and encouraging lessons to be had here.

Saul, first of all, was jealous of David’s successes. So much so that his entire attitude toward David was one of suspicion. Suspicion of what? That David was working to take Saul’s throne. I think that Saul knew full well that David was the Lord’s anointed, that the Lord was with David and was not with him (Saul).

Domestic abusers regard their targeted victim with suspicion. Why? Because they see their spouse as a threat. I think that domestic abusers actually fear their victim. Why else would they expend so much energy and resources to keep them under control? “Now Saul was afraid of David, for the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul.

Now, notice carefully that the time came when the Lord handed Saul over to evil. An evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul. This is a very curious statement but it shows us that even Satan and his evil minions are under the Lord’s sovereignty. He uses even demons for His purposes.

Why did the Lord do this? It was a judgment upon Saul for his sin. The Lord hands the wicked over to evil when they refuse to repent. And in this case Saul “raved in the midst of the house.” His hatred for David was ignited into a flame of fury and he threw a spear at David in an attempt to kill him. How is this to be explained? Simply that Saul had been handed over to evil by the Lord. He chose the devil and to the devil he was given.

I believe that this very same thing happens in regard to the domestic abuser (and all other RASNs). The point comes when these self-hardened evildoers are given over to the power of their sin. Given to their father the devil so that they rage against all righteousness, especially the righteousness of their target of abuse. There is no return from this bondage. Abusers never change.

Notice very, very carefully what David did. He escaped from Saul’s presence. And he would continue to flee from him. He did not just remain there and “take it.” He fled. And the Lord protected him. The Lord approved of David escaping.

Wouldn’t you say that right here in these verses alone we have all the proof we need that the Lord authorizes victims of domestic abuse to escape? And wouldn’t you say that right here in these verses alone we are given insight into why the abuser hates and fears his victim, and why he so diligently and constantly seeks to control and even destroy them?

I can hear it now – “But marriage is different. This just concerns David and Saul, not husband and wife.”

Answer not a fool according to his folly.


King Saul – a Classic Toxic Person


The “Right Now” in the Moment Thinking of the Abuser


  1. Excellent point, Pastor. I’ve heard some teachers that believe Saul is in heaven!! How could they even think that in light of these scriptures?! No doubt they are the same pastors/teachers who would condemn a woman for leaving her abuser: fools and hypocrites.

  2. Z

    “The LORD was with David”. That alone is enough for an abuser to hate their target. Add in the abuser’s jealousy, envy, covetousness, insecurity-their obsessively wanting to actually BE the target because of all the many admirable qualities the target possesses (gifts and talents from the Lord) but then being unable to BE the target they turn to HATING and wanting to take down the target any way they can. I’m sure Saul wanted to BE David. He couldn’t, so his hatred grew and eventually he tried to kill him.
    I experienced this in my now ex-family of origin. Years of this dynamic led to Saul-like hostility and obsession and even murderous rage. And they acted on it! Tried to actually kill me and my husband, who shielded me from the weapon (a hockey stick) being used to try to bludgeon me, but because my husband stood in front of me he took the rage-filled blow after blow to his face and head with permanent injuries. Definitely all involved with the planning and execution of this attack on us were given over to their evil by God. He departed them (IF He ever knew them at all! Professing “Christian” abusers? I don’t think they ever knew Jesus at all). Thankfully God made a way of escape (after the damage was done) from that immediate attack AND from that whole clan/cult of false Christian abusers, abuse enablers and abuser embracers. God gave us eyes to see them that night for what they have always been. Depraved demonic people left by God to their choice of evil. People we had no business even being associated with. We went permanent No Contact with all of them because of God’s guidance. And the Lord has continued to be with us! They, on the other hand will be joining Saul -NOT in heaven.

  3. Jade

    I was just thinking, as I read almost to the end or your post, that I would love to point this out to my ex-pastors, but they would doubtless say something along the lines of David and Saul not being husband and wife, bound in a covenant relationship. And then I read all the way to the end, and you called it!

    I do believe you are absolutely right about abusers hating and fearing their targets. I believe my ex-husband was highly motivated by envy. He would regularly talk about how other people seemed to have it better, how their lives seemed easier and they got more blessings from God. He envied my kindness and compassion and empathy, knowing he completely lacked those qualities. He envied my close and loving relationship with our children, so he has alienated them from me.

    I pray daily for their eyes to be opened to his evil, for God to remove the liars and manipulators from their lives, and for my ex to be turned over to his darkness so that it will be plain to all.

  4. A Child of God

    Yes! It is jealousy and fear. I remember telling my Heavenly Father, my fears are not his fears. Later, a minister gave a clear word of knowledge and told me my husband was jealous. And yes, when the time to go came JESUS CHRIST gave us the wings and set us free through impossible circumstances and by divine provision.


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