1 Samuel 28
-“Now it came about in those days that the Philistines gathered their armed camps for war, to fight against Israel.” They may have found a new boldness in the fact that David had seemingly joined ranks with their cause, and decided to threaten the ranks of God’s people on this occasion. Achish wanted David to know without a doubt that he would be going out with this king in the camp along with his mighty men of valor. David was put in a precarious spot now. Either refuse Achish and reveal his disloyalty, which could put his own men in danger, or fight against his beloved Israel for whom he was predestined to lead in the near future as king. Thankfully, he was able to navigate the situation as the Philistine warriors discerningly distrusted him for joining them in the fight (see 1 Samuel 29:1-11). David pledged his loyalty to Achish nonetheless, and the king made him his bodyguard for life (1 Samuel 28:1-2).
-Meanwhile, the text reminds us that Samuel was dead, being lamented vigorously by his people in Israel and buried in Ramah. Saul had removed all of the mediums and spiritists from the land, which was a commendable thing (Deuteronomy 18:9-14, Exodus 22:18), but his heart still turned to this detestable occultic practice in his distress. The Philistines gathered together and came to camp in Shunem, while Saul gathered his troops from Israel together and camped in Gilboa. When Saul saw the camp of his pagan enemy, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. Saul initially inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him, “either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.” After this futility, he decided to summon a female medium so that he could inquire of her. His servants knew of such a woman in En-dor, which was just northwest of where they camped at Mount Gilboa and just south of the Sea of Galilee. The king disguised himself putting on other clothes than the king’s wardrobe. Then, he along with two men went to her for some advice concerning his mounting predicament. They came to her at night asking her to conjure up a specific person from the side of the deceased. At first the woman baulked at the idea stating plainly that the king, Saul, whom she did not realize was this inquirer, had outlawed her practice. She felt like they were laying a snare for her so that they could put her to death. But, Saul swore to her by the LORD’s life that no punishment would come upon her for this thing. At last the woman consented, and she asked who he wanted to bring up from the dead. Samuel was who Saul wanted to hear from. When Samuel was then summoned, a force more powerful than her normal demonic activity emerged, and she cried out with a loud voice, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul.” Saul reassured her not to be afraid, but to tell him what she observed from the other side. She stated, “I see a divine being coming up out of the earth.” Saul wanted to know his form, and she told him that it was an old man coming up wrapped in a robe. By now Saul somehow knew this was Samuel. He bowed his face to the ground and paid homage (1 Samuel 28:3-14).
-There is now a mind- blowing conversation between the living Saul and the departed from earth Samuel. Samuel begins, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am greatly distressed; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and no longer answers me, either through prophets or by dreams; therefore, I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.” Samuel replied, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary?” Then Samuel verified the word of the LORD given through him while he was alive on the earth, “The LORD has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David.” Then, he continued his rebuke from the other side, “As you did not obey the LORD and did not execute His fierce wrath on Amalek, so the LORD has done this thing to you this day.” Then he emphatically prophesied from the grave, “Moreover the LORD will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the LORD will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!” Upon hearing these haunting words, Saul fell immediately full length upon the ground and became very afraid. He had absolutely no strength left in him, since he had not eaten food all day or that night. The medium woman seeing that Saul was completely terrified by what he encountered pleaded for her well-being and beseeched him to eat some food. Initially Saul refused the offer, but his servants joined in with the woman finally convincing him to partake. The woman quickly slaughtered a fattened calf and took flour, kneading it and baking unleavened bread from it. After eating it, Saul arose with his men and went away that night (1 Samuel 28:15-25).
-*Application* What can possibly be said about this incredible chapter of intrigue. God will keep His word no matter what. Even when David had seemingly betrayed his people and gone to the camp of the Philistines, God was at work to fulfill His purposes through the Israelites. We can count on the words of the prophets. They will come to fruition. Also here we see the continued double-mindedness of the wayward King Saul. Though he made a pact to rid the nation of spiritists and mediums, he turned to them when things went awry. He heart did not fully trust in the LORD; therefore, his kingdom was torn from him and given to a better man, David. What then can we take from this? Don’t be double-minded and obey the LORD fully when He asks you to do something in His Name. Of course, we could also contemplate the concept of ghosts and hearing from deceased people. God does not want us to engage in this practice (again see Deuteronomy 18:9-14), so avoid it being content to look to His Spirit and His Word for all your spiritual needs (Spirit and Truth, John 4:23-24).
Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 28:16