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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: 1 Samuel

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FRAMEWORKS: 1 Samuel 28: Saul & the Witch of Endor


v.1,2 David finds he has to accompany the Philistine king, Achish

v.3-6 Saul seeks guidance from God but gets none

v.7-10 Saul seeks out the medium of Endor

v.11-14 She calls up the ghost of Samuel

v.15-19 ‘Samuel' pronounces judgment on Saul

v.20-25 Saul is devastated and needs help to recover



v.1,2 David finds he has to accompany the Philistine king, Achish


v.1 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army.”

v.2 David said, “Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.”

Achish replied, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”


[Notes: Davis is being put in the tricky position of having to fight against his own people – see next chapter for the outcome]



v.3-6 Saul seeks guidance from God but gets none


v.3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.

v.The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa.

v.5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart.

v.6 He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets.


[Notes: Meanwhile as the Philistines gather to come against Israel, Saul is fearful and only now turns to the Lord. However the Lord has given up on him and remains silent – how terrible.]



v.7-10 Saul seeks out the medium of Endor


v.7 Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”

“There is one in Endor,” they said.

v.8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”

v.9 But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

v.10 Saul swore to her by the Lord , “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”


[Notes: Instead of truly repenting and seeking the Lord, Saul foolishly turns to the occult and finds a witch or medium at Endor in the north, near the Sea of Galilee. He asks her to call up a spirit [presumably for guidance] but she knows that all mediums have been banned from the land [see v.3] and knows this is illegal. He promises her she will be all right.]



v.11-14 She calls up the ghost of Samuel


v.11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

v.12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

v.13 The king said to her, “Don't be afraid. What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.”

v.14 “What does he look like?” he asked.

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.


[Notes: He asks her to call up Samuel. When an image of Samuel actually appears to her she is terrified and instinctively knows that he is Saul. The fact that she is so surprised suggests that this was not normal in her experiences. She describes what she sees and Saul identifies it as Samuel.]



v.15-19 ‘Samuel' pronounces judgment on Saul


v.15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

v.16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy?

v.17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David.

v.18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today.

v.19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”


[Notes: The figure addresses Saul and rebukes him because the Lord has left him. Now from what else we know in Scripture – that such things are banned – we must suggest that all that is happening is that Saul is seeing what he already knows is the truth, because Samuel had already told him these things while he was alive. There is no fresh revelation here. As he has confessed to David already, Saul already knows he is going to die leaving David as king. The deception here in the occult is that this is knowledge from the grave, but that is clearly untrue because of what we have seen before this.]



v.20-25 Saul is devastated and needs help to recover


v.20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel's words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and all that night.

v.21 When the woman came to Saul and saw that he was greatly shaken, she said, “Look, your servant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do.

v.22 Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”

v.23 He refused and said, “I will not eat.”

But his men joined the woman in urging him, and he listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

v.24 The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast.

v.25 Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left.


[Notes: As the occult so often does, it leaves Saul in fear. The women and his men with him, eventually persuade Saul to eat to rebuild his strength. To all his other failures, Saul has now added gross disobedience, for the Law expressly forbade contacting and using mediums – Lev 19:31, 20:6]