What is a troubled spirit?

“And it came to pass in the morning that was troubled his spirit and he called eth all magicians of Egypt and all the wise and conveyed Pharaoh to them his dream and not interpreter them for Pharaoh.”
Genesis 41:8

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1. The dream of Pharaoh about the cows “troubled” his spirt and prompted him to call all the magicians and wise men to interpret the dream (Genesis 41:8). 1God used the Hebrew term “troubled” (“וַתִּפָּ֣עֶם”–niphal imperfect, third feminine singular). In this case, the trouble related directly to his soul, because of the dream. The Niphal stem often means passive voice, meaning his spirit was troubled. Therefore, we know that specific events, like dreams, can trouble your spirit. The troubled spirit often prompts action related to the thing that troubled the spirit. Therefore, when you see a troubled spirit, consider that something or someone troubled that spirit for a particular purpose  that required action. 

2. In Judges 13:25, began the Spirit of Yahweh to trouble Samson and he went to Timnah and saw the Philistine, Delilah. 2God used the Hebrew term “troubled” (“לְפַעֲמ֖וֹ”– Qal infinitive, third singular). In contrast to the Niphal use in Genesis 41:8, God used the Qal infinitive to emphasize the action God took deliberately and with special purpose to motivate Samson to look for a wife. God had a plan to punish the Philistines, which included using Samson to accomplish that purpose. Therefore, we see that the Spirit of Yahweh troubled the spirit of Samson. Furthermore, the Spirit of Yahweh had a specific purpose for troubling the soul of Samson, so that he would take specific action against an enemy of Israel. Therefore, when you encounter a troubled spirit, you may consider who troubled the spirit and why the spirit was troubled.

3. In Psalm 77:2, Asaph cried out to God, but his soul refused to be comforted (Psalm 74:2). 3God used the Hebrew term “to be comforted” (“הִנָּחֵ֣ם”–Niphal infinitive) to describe how the soul specifically refused to be comforted. This passage explains one relationship between soul comfort and spirit trouble. Asaph complained to God and his spirit was troubled (Psalm 77:3). 4 God used the term “and troubled” (“וְתִתְעַטֵּ֖ף”–Hitpael imperfect, third feminine singular). The Hitpael stem described the reflexive nature, indicating Asaph himself troubled his spirit. Then Asaph continued: “You hold my eyes. I am troubled and not I will speak” (Psalm 77:4). 5God used the term troubled (“תִתְעַטֵּ֖ף”–Hitpael imperfect, third singular) to describe the reflexive nature of the action–troubled himself. Therefore, Asaph troubled his own spirit as a result of the lack of sleep caused by Yahweh. Therefore, when you see a troubled spirit, be sure to understand if God took action that resulted in the person troubling their own spirit. In this case, God took sleep from Asaph, and then Asaph troubled his own spirit in response. Keep in mind that God still sought to promote specific action in the life of Asaph.

4. In Daniel 2:1, Nebuchadnezzar the king said, “I had a dream and is troubled to my spirit to know eth the dream.” 6God used the term “troubled” (“וַתִּפָּ֣עֶם”–Niphal Imperfect, third feminine singular).  Because the Niphal stem often means passive voice, the subject of the verb is not expressed. In this case, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and his spirit was troubled with continuing action. This trouble of spirit motivated him to find someone who could recite the dream and then interpret the dream. Notice the connection between the troubled spirit and wanting to know something. The spirit knows the things of a man. Therefore, we know that a dream or other event may trouble a spirit, motivating action to resolve the matter causing the troubled spirit in the first instance.

From those uses of the term, we see that dreams trouble the spirits of kings. In particular, the same trouble stirs people to take action or keeps them awake. In two instances the spirit of the man was troubled, but in another the Spirit of Yahweh troubled the man to take action. The spirit of man may be troubled by things they do not understand and which may deprive them of sleep.