After Joseph Smith, Jr. finished his revision of The Book of Genesis, he began a far less ambitious approach to the remainder of the Old Testament. Indeed, many of the chapters and/or entire books of the Bible were simply marked as “Correct.” At times, Joseph would only change a few words to get his point across. In 1 Samuel 16, he made just two corrections; in verses 16 and 23. The focus (as it was with some of the previous chapters) was to lighten the disposition of God a bit. He was driven to change instances of “evil” coming from God.
Thus, since verse sixteen reads,
“Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the EVIL SPIRIT FROM GOD is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well” (1 Samuel 16:16, AKJV. EMPHASIS ADDED).
He was compelled to change it to read,
“Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on a harp; and it shall come to pass, when the EVIL SPIRIT, WHICH IS NOT OF GOD, is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well” (1 Samuel 16:16, JST. EMPHASIS ADDED).
The Authorized King James Bible, verse twenty-three reads,
“And it came to pass, when the EVIL SPIRIT FROM GOD was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him” (1 Samuel 16:23, AKJV. EMPHASIS ADDED).
The Joseph Smith Revision reads,
“And it came to pass, when the EVIL SPIRIT, WHICH WAS NOT OF GOD, was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand; so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him” (1 Samuel 16:23, JST. EMPHASIS ADDED).
The reader would think, “Evil is not a property of God, so Joseph was wise to change the references.” Which would be sound thinking, except that he has made a minor attempt to change a few verses along the way instead of every reference. He made changes in only two other verses within the 383 verses encompassing the first fifteen chapters of 1 Samuel; 15:11 & 15:35.
A careful look at the other twenty-one verses in 1 Samuel 16 (AKJV) will reveal the ineptness of the young prophet in his efforts:
“But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an EVIL SPIRIT FROM THE LORD troubled him” (1 Samuel 16:14, AKJV. EMPHASIS ADDED).
“And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an EVIL SPIRIT FROM GOD troubleth thee” (1 Samuel 16:15, AKJV. EMPHASIS ADDED).
We now have four references from 1 Samuel 16 which implicitly state that an evil spirit comes from God, but Joseph only felt compelled to correct two of them. Some astute scholar has since modified these verses in the JST, though no change was made to another instance in Judges 9:23. The JST was not published during the life of Joseph Smith, Jr., so the discrepancies remained.
The trend of focusing on an issue and skipping changes to other verses was common during Joseph’s revisions. One would think that he would have “caught” these problems if he detailed the other chapters of the Old Testament in the same manner as he did Genesis. However, given the fact that he modified 1 Samuel 16:16, but NOT the two verses before it, leaves little doubt that inspiration, at this point, in modifying the Bible was lacking teeth.