I Samuel 28

Seek the Lord while He may be found for there is a time when He will not be found (v. 6).
To think that any spiritualistic medium can be of help when God has frowned upon us,
is to heap contempt upon God,
who has expressly forbidden all such recourse.

1 And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.

2 And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.

3 ¶ Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.

4 And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.

5 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.

6 And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

7 ¶ Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor.

8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

9 And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

10 And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.

11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.

12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.

13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

15 ¶ And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?

17 And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:

18 Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.

19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.

20 Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.

21 ¶ And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me.

22 Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way.

23 But he refused, and said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed.

24 And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof:

25 And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night.

1 Samuel 28:1-14 – Resorting to a Familiar Spirit

   This chapter records the climax to which Saul’s sins led, and which sealed his fate. See I Chronicles 10:13-14. He went back to that which he had put away and sought counsel of a familiar spirit, II Peter 2:20-22.
   The soul cannot live apart from the unseen world. It is its native element. Divorce it from God, and it will fill the empty space with demons. When the king could get no answer to his questions by the usual means, he sent his servants, in desperation, to seek for a medium. Had he been right with God, there would have been no need for this. It is the decay of the old religious spirit that nowadays gives occasion for the rise of crystal-gazing, palmistry and spirit-rapping. What a tragedy was presented that night in the witch’s hut, and how terrible must have been Saul’s long tramp to and fro, between his own encampment and Endor, which lay in the rear of the Philistine host! It is an evil thing and a bitter to forsake the fountain of living waters, and hew out “broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13, 19).

1 Samuel 28:15-25 – Listening to His Own Doom

   That there should be an apparition of Samuel occasions no difficulty, for as Moses and Elijah were permitted to speak with our Lord of the “decease” to be accomplished at Jerusalem, so God may have specially permitted the prophet to speak with Saul. We may believe that these sentences passed between them, without any aid on the part of the medium. From the lips of the prophet came no words of comfort nor hope. Nothing could avert the descending avalanche of destruction. As Saul had sown, so must he reap; as he had fallen, so must he lie.
   While the king sat on that divan, what memories must have passed through his mind! The first happy days of his reign, Jabesh-gilead, the loyalty of his people. Then he saw how, step by step, that cursed jealousy of David had dragged him down into the turbid current that was now bearing him to a suicide’s end. It is one of the most pitiful spectacles in history. But let us be warned; let us watch and pray; let us guard against the first tiny rift within the lute of life!

I Samuel 28:18—Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, therefore…

   Thus unforgiven sin comes back to a man. We cannot explain the mysteries that lie around this incident; but it is clear that in that supreme hour of Saul’s fate, that early sin, which had never been confessed and put away, came surging back on the mind and heart of the terror stricken monarch. “Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day. Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hands of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 28:18-19). But Saul did not realize that even then the gates of God’s love stood open to him, if only he would pass through them by humble penitence and faith. If instead of applying to the witch, he had sought God’s mercy, light would have burst on his darkened path, and he had never perished by his own hand on Mount Gilboa.
   In strong contrast with this, let us put the assurance of the new covenant (Hebrews 10:17): “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” When God forgives, He blots out from the book of his remembrance. The sin is gone as a pebble in the ocean; as a cloud in the blue of a summer’s sky.
   Saul’s was a sin of omission. The question was not what evil he had done, but the good be had failed to do. Let us remember that we need pardon for the sad lapses and failures of our lives, equally as for the positive transgressions. And if such things are not forgiven, they will lie heavy on our consciences when the shadows of death begin to gather around us. The New Testament especially judges those who knew and did not do the slothful servant, the virgin without the oil, the priest that passed by on the other side.