There is no evil in God. 1 John 1:5, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Additionally, “God is love,” and “God…cannot lie,” (1 John 4:16, Titus 1:2).

1 Samuel 16:14 reads, “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.”

The word evil is Strong’s word H7451, “rah.” It occurs 663 times in the Old Testament and does have the thought of evil but it also is translated as affliction, adversity, grievous, sore, and sad – depending on the context. Consider the following two examples:

Nehemiah 2:2 (CSB), “…the king said to me (Nehemiah), “Why are you sad (rah), when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but sadness (same root word) of heart.”

Proverbs 15:10, “Correction is grievous (rah) unto him that forsaketh the way…”

These two scriptures illustrate that “rah” can mean sad or grievous – something that hurts the heart. So when God withdrew His spirit of guidance and blessing from Saul, because Saul openly defied Him, Saul felt great loss. 

Whenever we lose God’s favor due to our sins, God desires us to feel remorse and grief. Through experience, we learn to supremely value God’s will and recognize the great error of disobedience. It is our guilty consciences and (usually temporary) loss of our heart communion with our Father that causes this spirit of sadness and grief. 

Therefore, 1 Samuel 16:14 may be understood as meaning – the loving, guiding spirit of God left Saul, and God sent correction causing Saul to have a spirit of remorse and sadness.