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Title:Examples of Mental Illness in the Bible: God strikes sinners with insanity
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Mental Illness in the Bible

"The Lord will smite you with madness, blindness and with bewilderment of heart" (Deut 28:27-29) "God will send upon them a deluding influence (delusion) so that they will believe what is false" (2 Thess 2:11)

Introduction:

1. Very few preachers and even fewer Christians have noticed the fact that God threatened the Israelites from Mt. Ebel that he would strike them with insanity if they sinned against him. This threat is couched within the great passage of the blessings and curses after they entered the promised land with Joshua.

a. "The Lord will smite you with madness, blindness and with bewilderment of heart" (Deut 28:27-29)

b. "God will send upon them a deluding influence (delusion) so that they will believe what is false" (2 Thess 2:11)

2. When God defeated the armies who attacked Israel, he did so by striking them with madness so that they began to kill each other in a psychotic panic of confusion and delusion.

a. Originally madness simply means: "one who has sudden, unpredictable, wild outbursts of uncontrollable anger for no apparent reason accompanied with delusion and paranoia".

3. The Bible clearly says that God will strike sinners with madness as a curse.

a. Exactly how God accomplishes this is unknown.

b. Paranoia, panic and horror was a key factor in why armies would turn on themselves.

c. Whereas Nebuchadnezzar was directly and miraculously stricken by God with insanity, Saul on the other hand, gradually became more psychotic with paranoia and delusion out of jealously, anger towards David and rebellion to God.

4. God would usually use natural means and providence to "spook" people into psychotic behaviour through a variety of means.

a. However God did directly strike, like lightening, Nebuchadnezzar. This was exceptional.

b. But the behaviours of Nebuchadnezzar were not really psychotic or insane, they were dementia.

c. Having the aptitude of a cow and eating grass on your hands and knees is dementia not insanity.

5. For example, God used hornets to assist in striking enemy armies with madness:

a. "I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you." (Exodus 23:28)

b. "Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish." (Deuteronomy 7:20)

c. "'Then I sent the hornet before you and it drove out the two kings of the Amorites from before you, but not by your sword or your bow." (Joshua 24:12)

d. "The Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do, and crushed you from Seir to Hormah." (Deuteronomy 1:44)

e. "They surrounded me like bees; They were extinguished as a fire of thorns; In the name of the Lord I will surely cut them off." (Psalm 118:12)

f. "In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria." (Isaiah 7:18)

A. The cases of insanity in the Bible:

1. Balaam wanted to curse Israel for money even though forbidden by God: "forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet." (2 Peter 2:15-16)

2. David faked mental illness and was wrongly accused of being insane by the King of Gath: "David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath. So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, "Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? "Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?"" (1 Samuel 21:12-15)

3. King Saul who drove himself insane out of hatred for David and rebellion to God: "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." (1 Samuel 18:10-12)

4. Nebuchadnezzar was stricken with dementia and loss of reason by God for his pride: "While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.' "Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws. "But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation." (Daniel 4:31-34)

5. John the Baptist was wrongly accused of being insane: "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!'" (Matthew 11:18)

6. Jesus was wrongly accused of being insane: "Many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?" Others were saying, "These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?"" (John 10:20-21)

7. Paul was wrongly accused of being mad: "While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, "Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad." (Acts 26:24)

B. The Bible's Mental illness checklist:

1. Willing to curse the very God who made you a prophet. (Balaam)

2. lack of proper judgment and discernment (David)

3. scribbled on the doors of the gate (David)

4. saliva run down into his beard (David)

5. Making ridiculous claims about yourself (Jesus was making true statement they rejected)

6. Sinful behaviour (Saul/Nebuchadnezzar)

7. rebellion and insubordination (Saul)

8. Will not accept the advice of others: uncouncilable. (Saul/Nebuchadnezzar)

9. Irreconcilable.(Saul)

10. Lack of repentance when rebuked (Saul)

11. Self righteousness and pride (Saul/Nebuchadnezzar)

12. Spiritual elitism (Saul/Nebuchadnezzar)

13. Intense jealousy and anger directed at a innocent person (Saul)

14. Fear and panic attacks (Saul)

15. suspicion and paranoia (Saul)

16. music/drugs don't help much (Saul)

17. Discounting personal responsibility (Saul)

18. Masters at hiding the real problem (Saul)

19. Talking about God, judgement and the after life (Jesus)

20. Dressing and eating foods outside the normal lifestyle choices (John the Baptist)

21. Manic, hyperness (Paul was excited and forceful in his teaching)

22. tunnel vision, excessive intensity on a single goal at the wrong time (Paul appeared to be consumed by the gospel)

C. Diagnostic behaviours when God strikes with insanity:

1. Mania

2. Panic attack

3. Paranoia

4. Confusion

5. Delusion

6. Dementia: loss of reason

7. Fear

8. Believing lies: false view of reality

9. Mindless mob behaviour

10. Suspicion

11. Hopelessness

12. Depression

13. Anxiety

14. Heart melts within them

15. Loss of physical strength due to emotional shock.

D. God punishes unrepented sin with mental illness/insanity:

1. "But the Lord your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion [mehumah, 4103] until they are destroyed. " Deuteronomy 7:23

2. "The Lord will send upon you curses, confusion [mehumah, 4103], and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me. " Deuteronomy 28:20

3. "The Lord will smite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed. "The Lord will smite you with madness [shiggaon, 2328] and with blindness and with bewilderment ["timmahown", 8541] of heart; and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you. " Deuteronomy 28:27-29

a. "there would come idiocy, blindness, and confusion of mind, three psychical maladies; for although blindness signifies primarily bodily blindness, the position of the word between idiocy and confusion of heart, i.e., of the understanding, points to mental blindness here. (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F., Deut 28:28)

4. "A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually. "You shall be driven mad [shaga, 7696] by the sight of what you see. "The Lord will strike you on the knees and legs with sore boils, from which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head. "The Lord will bring you and your king, whom you set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone." (Deuteronomy 28:33-36)

a. Notice the Hebrew word used by the Philistine king of Gath to describe a madman and madness is the same one used in Deuteronomy 28:34 to describe the curse of madness God will inflict on sinners: "So David disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely [halal, 1984, Hithpoel] in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, "Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman [shaga, 7696]. Why do you bring him to me? "Do I lack madmen [shaga, 7696], that you have brought this one to act the madman [shaga, 7696] in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?"" (1 Samuel 21:13-15)

5. Punishment of Babylon: "They will drink and stagger and go mad (Nebuchadnezzar) [halal, 1984, Hithpoel] because of the sword that I will send among them." Jeremiah 25:16

6. "For oppression makes a wise man mad [halal, 1984, Hithpoel], And a bribe corrupts the heart." Ecclesiastes 7:7

7. "Go up, you horses, and drive madly [halal, 1984, Hithpoel], you chariots, That the mighty men may march forward: Ethiopia and Put, that handle the shield, And the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow. " Jeremiah 46:9

8. "Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, Intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; Therefore the nations are going mad [halal, 1984, Hithpoel]." Jeremiah 51:7

9. "The chariots race madly [halal, 1984, Hithpoel] in the streets, They rush wildly in the squares, Their appearance is like torches, They dash to and fro like lightning flashes. " Nahum 2:4

10. "For the Lord God of hosts has a day of panic, subjugation and confusion [mehumah, 4103] In the valley of vision, A breaking down of walls And a crying to the mountain. " Isaiah 22:5

11. "'Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come, the day is near-tumult [mehumah, 4103] rather than joyful shouting on the mountains. " Ezekiel 7:7

12. "In that day," declares the Lord, "I will strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness [shiggaon, 2328]. But I will watch over the house of Judah, while I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. " Zechariah 12:4

13. "It will come about in that day that a great panic [mehumah, 4103] from the Lord will fall on them; and they will seize one another's hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another. " Zechariah 14:13

14. ""For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law. "But in their distress they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him. "In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for many disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. "Nation was crushed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled [mehumah, 4103] them with every kind of distress." (2 Chronicles 15:3-6)

15. "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord Than great treasure and turmoil [mehumah, 4103] with it." (Proverbs 15:16)

16. "For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence (delusion) so that they will believe what is false" 2 Thessalonians 2:11

E. Examples of when God struck gentiles armies with madness in order to fight Israel's wars for them: (Armies that killed themselves after they went mad)

1. "At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion [hamam, 2000]. He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians."" (Exodus 14:24-25)

2. "I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion [hamam, 2000] all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. "I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you." (Exodus 23:27-28)

3. ""Moreover the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy [hamam, 2000] them from within the camp until they all perished." (Deuteronomy 2:15)

4. "But the Lord your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion [mehumah, 4103] until they are destroyed. " Deuteronomy 7:23

5. Punishment of Babylon: "They will drink and stagger and go mad (Nebuchadnezzar) [halal, 1984, Hithpoel] because of the sword that I will send among them." Jeremiah 25:16

6. "Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, Intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; Therefore the nations are going mad [halal, 1984, Hithpoel]." Jeremiah 51:7

7. "For the Lord God of hosts has a day of panic, subjugation and confusion [mehumah, 4103] In the valley of vision, A breaking down of walls And a crying to the mountain. " Isaiah 22:5

8. "'Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come, the day is near-tumult [mehumah, 4103] rather than joyful shouting on the mountains. " Ezekiel 7:7

9. "I will call for a sword against him on all My mountains," declares the Lord God. "Every man's sword will be against his brother." (Ezekiel 38:21)

10. "In that day," declares the Lord, "I will strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness [shiggaon, 2328]. But I will watch over the house of Judah, while I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. " Zechariah 12:4

11. "It will come about in that day that a great panic [mehumah, 4103] from the Lord will fall on them; and they will seize one another's hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another. " Zechariah 14:13

12. Gideon conquers Midian: "When they blew 300 trumpets, the Lord set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army; and the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. " Judges 7:22

13. "Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, so that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood might be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. The men of Shechem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who might pass by them along the road; and it was told to Abimelech. " (Judges 9:23-25)

14. "And the Lord confounded [hamam, 2000] them before Israel, and He slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah." (Joshua 10:10)

15. When Philistines captured the ark: "After they had brought the ark of God around, the hand of the Lord was against the city with very great confusion [mehumah, 4103]; and He smote the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. " ... "They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines and said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, so that it will not kill us and our people." For there was a deadly confusion [mehumah, 4103] throughout the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. " 1 Samuel 5:9,11

16. "Now Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, and the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused [hamam, 2000] them, so that they were routed before Israel." (1 Samuel 7:10)

17. Jonathan single handedly routes the Philistines and starts the victory over them. God strikes the Philistines with madness and confusion so they begin killing each other: "While Saul talked to the priest, the commotion [hamown, 2162, commotion, riot] in the camp of the Philistines continued and increased; so Saul said to the priest, "Withdraw your hand." Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and came to the battle; and behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion [mehumah, 4103]. " 1 Samuel 14:19-20

18. "When David inquired of the LORD, He said, "You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. "It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the LORD will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines." Then David did so, just as the LORD had commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer." (2 Samuel 5:23-25)

19. ""And He sent out arrows, and scattered them, Lightning, and routed [hamam, 2000] them." (2 Samuel 22:15)

20. "Flash forth lightning and scatter them; Send out Your arrows and confuse [hamam, 2000] them." (Psalm 144:6)

21. "The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. "So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians; And they will each fight against his brother and each against his neighbor, City against city and kingdom against kingdom. "Then the spirit of the Egyptians will be demoralized within them; And I will confound their strategy, So that they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead And to mediums and spiritists." (Isaiah 19:1-3)

22. Jehoshaphat conquers Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir "Jehoshaphat said ... put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established. ... When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed. For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir destroying them completely; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When Judah came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and no one had escaped. ... And they were three days taking the spoil because there was so much." 2 Chronicles 20:20-25

23. "While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.' "Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws. "But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation." (Daniel 4:31-34)

24. "'I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another.'" (Haggai 2:22)

Conclusion:

1. God designed and created our human spirits and knows exactly how to make us go insane.

a. Humans know to trigger excitement in a dog: say "squirrel" or "wanna go for a car ride?" or if you have a Chiwawa, sneak outside and ring the front doorbell.

b. Humans know to trigger excitement in a cat: quietly start scratching something.

c. Humans know to trigger excitement in a teenager: "wanna drive the car?"

d. God knows exactly how to trigger insanity in humans.

2. How does God strike with insanity?

a. God can strike directly, like in the case of Nebuchadnezzar

b. God can perform miracles to create circumstances that trigger insanity, like in the case of the sound of marching in the tree tops in helping David defeat the Philistines.

c. God used hornets to assist in sending gentile armies into a psychotic panic where they killed each other.

d. God usually uses natural circumstances, like Saul when he learned that God had already providentially brought his replacement as king (David) into the palace and was a rising star.

3. God never strikes the righteous with insanity.

4. It is a sinful state for a Christian to be diagnosed by atheistic biopsychiatrists with a mental illness. It is the sin of pharmakia (Gal 5:20) to be taking any prescribed psychiatric drug. It is child abuse to give any psychiatric drug to a child for any reason.

5. All human behaviour is a freewill choice. We are always in full control of our behaviours. God will judge us for our behaviours.

By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

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