When the prophet Samuel died, all of Israel mourned. Samuel was recognized for his spiritual authority and unwavering faith in the Lord. He was the chosen instrument of communication between God and the nation, and there was a deep sense of loss throughout the land when he passed.
3 Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had lamented for him and buried him in Ramah, in his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the spiritists out of the land. 1 Samuel 28:3 (NKJV)
Saul did perform one duty in honor of Samuel – he put all the mediums and spiritists out of the land.
God had strictly and clearly forbidden the use of those who consulted spirits to communicate with the dead or to seek personal guidance. He insisted that we deal only with Him, the Creator, and never with created spirits aligned with other gods or the enemy.
31 ‘Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:31 (NKJV)
6 ‘And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. Leviticus 20:6 (NKJV)
9 “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 (NKJV)
Saul may have turned his back on God, but at least he did clear the land of this type of activity, either at the direction of the prophet Samuel or in honor of him.
With Samuel no longer on the scene, the Philistines began to undertake a new invasion of Israel. Their huge army was much stronger than Saul’s, and he began to be quite afraid of them.
In the past, God had worked through men of faith to save Israel from these types of attacks. But now Samuel was dead. Furthermore, Saul had killed 85 of the 86 priests who were attending to God’s tabernacle because the head priest had unwittingly helped David to escape from him, and the only surviving priest had run for his life and was now with David in exile.
So what was Saul to do? He could have repented in his heart and truly turned back to the Lord, but apparently, he did not. His “foxhole prayer” attempts to approach God for help did not receive a reply.
Saul’s solution was to use a medium to bring the spirit of Samuel back from the dead to seek his help. Using a tactic that he knew was expressly forbidden by God to try to seek God’s help does not seem like a logical solution, but for some reason, it made sense to Saul and he decided to do it.
There was a “witch”, or medium, in EnDor who had a good reputation for contacting and communicating with the “dead”. Many today have similar reputations, though Bible-believing Christians are warned to stay away from such practices, as the spirits they contact may actually be demons masquerading as their dead relatives. Demonic forces are unlikely to lead one in a direction consistent with the will of their sworn enemy, the Lord.
Saul knew enough to disguise himself, and in the dark of night, he consulted with the medium. When she brought up the spirit, she shrieked – something was quite different this time. Instead of the spirit or spirits she was used to working with, this time she was apparently confronted by the spirit of prophet Samuel himself.
Some interpret this spirit to be an imposter, not the actual Samuel, but the fact that 1) the medium shrieked and 2) the spirit gave an accurate prophecy about the immediate future of Saul and his sons suggest that this really was Samuel, and that God Himself had brought Samuel up from the dead to confront Saul. The medium shrieked because this was quite different from her usual interactions with familiar spirits.
Only God truly knows the future. Unless given a word from Him, His creation does not.
Samuel’s spirit told Saul that he was about to lose the kingdom to David, and that he and his three sons would be dead the following day, essentially cutting off the kingly line of Benjamin forever. Saul knew at once that this was true, and he collapsed from the news.
The following day, Saul and his sons’ fates played out exactly the way Samuel’s spirit said it would happen.
Throughout the Old and New Testament, God expressly forbids believers to associate with or use the services of mediums and spiritists. He wants us to worship Him only, and never to reach out in any way to other spirits, many associated with the evil one who would harm us through a counterfeit truth of lies, manipulation, and trickery. Familiar spirits know enough about our past to weave a tale about our future, one that will eventually influence us to act in a way counter to the Lord’s will for us.
Lord, keep us pure today in our spiritual connections. May we and our families rest under Your protection and under the shadow of Your wing. Help us to renounce any past connections with the dark spirit world through the loving Power of Your Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. Keep us free from their shackles to honor and serve You in every way. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.