I Samuel 28
“But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6: 68)
Where does one go when he/she does not believe in the Lord Jesus, the One called, and the “Word of God?” Where do they find truth? In today’s culture, we see people searching for truth and the meaning of life in many areas. Jesus said he came to testify to the truth and all who sided with the truth, listened to Him. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. “ Saul has cut himself off from every legitimate means of spiritual input and truth. Samuel was dead. Saul had killed 85 priests in Nob. David had once been the one to whom he had relied on to sooth him with his songs and harp, now they were estranged. Having cut himself off from spiritual advice, Saul opens himself to demonic means of obtaining spiritual advice about future decisions. Our greatest fears arise from the unknown. We want to know what to do. Saul had cut himself off from God who has all knowledge. To whom shall he go?
If we go back to something which occurred earlier in I Samuel 15, we find a key to King Saul’s plight. King Saul had not done as God commanded him to do. He had not destroyed all of the Amalekites, sparing their king, Agag. He also had not destroyed all the livestock. We read: “The word of the Lord came to Samuel saying, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.”
Samuel goes to find King Saul and confront his disobedience. King Saul, ever the one to make excuses, defends his disobedience by saying he intended to sacrifice some of the stolen things to God. Samuel says, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice… for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.” (I Samuel 15: 22, 23)
The kingship of Saul was the people’s choice- not God’s choice for king. God gave the people want they wanted. Saul’s disobedience in I Samuel 13 where he did not wait for Samuel to offer the sacrifice, but did it himself revealed his heart. From that moment Saul had already forfeited his right to be king. This final act of consulting a medium to contact the dead is the last straw which brings his earthly kingdom to an end. When we disobey God, we open ourselves to evil. To disobey God is to listen to Satan.
God told Adam he must not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil for when you eat of it, you will surely die.( Genesis 2: 16) When they decided to disobey God who did they listen to? Satan. How was Abraham saved? He believed the Word of God and was counted righteous.
When we turn to other sources for truth about life and our future, we put those entities we turn to for knowledge of truth in the place of God. God will tell us all we need to know when we need to know it about our lives and our future.
This is something God had forewarned His people about. In Deuteronomy 18, we read: “When you enter the land the Lord your God has given you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no on be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist, or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things detestable to the Lord…” We live in a culture which does not depend on God to guide them and looks to other sources for truth. Be careful you do not look to those same godless sources the unbeliever looks to for guidance.
“But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me (Moses) from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. “Deuteronomy 18: 15. Whatever the question- God has the answer.
God condemns this type of activity and says it is detestable to Him. He forbids His people from doing these things. Moses tells us God is raising up a prophet we are to listen to and in the New Testament we read of who that one is: listen to what Phillip tells Nathaniel about Jesus: “ We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, about whom the prophets also wrote- Jesus of Nazareth.” (John 1: 45)
Jesus is our source of Truth, for He is the Truth. He tells us about our future in John 14. He tells us what to expect in our life. “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1: 17) Jesus said He came to testify to the Truth. He is the Truth. And the Truth will set you free. And if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.
In King Saul we see a man who in his pride, relies on his self-sufficiency, as we see David has also done on occasion. We all rely on self-sufficiency or seek other sources outside of the Lord to solve our problems at times, usually when we are desperate. When we do this, we forsake divine guidance. Remember the essence of idolatry is the displacing of God. And when we ignore God, we may be sure the enemy rushes in to fill the gap.
THE WITCH OF EN DOR
We read Saul had expelled all the mediums and spiritists out of the land of Israel. King Saul, once again, is trying to curry favor with God by enacting the laws God has given them to drive out those who practice these dark arts of divination.
But then Saul saw the armies of the Philistines, which were great and outnumbered his army, – ‘he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. He inquired of the Lord; the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or Urim or by the prophets.’ Samuel was dead so Saul is looking for spiritual advice about future decisions. Saul says to his servants, find me a medium that I may go to her and inquire of her. Saul is told there is a medium in En Dor. This is in enemy territory, so Saul disguises himself and travels with two men to see this witch of En Dor.
What occurs next, is hard to understand. King Saul asks the woman to conduct a séance for him and bring up one I shall name to you. The woman fears this is entrapment for she tells the disguised stranger King Saul has expelled the mediums from the land and she could be executed. Saul swears she will not be punished
The woman asked for the name of the one he wants her to bring up. And he replies, “Bring up Samuel.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. (I assume she was shocked and frightened.) She then realizes this is King Saul who is requesting this séance.
Now here is where I am confused. Is it possible for the dead to be brought up from the place where they are? Jesus in His parable in Luke 16, tells of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar who die on the same day. Lazarus was carried to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man was in Hades in torment. There was a gulf fixed so the rich man could not go to where Lazarus was and Lazarus could not go to where the rich man was in torment in Hades.
The rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers to warn them of this place. Abraham replied they have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. And the rich man replied, ‘no father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent. But Abraham said to him, ‘if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ (Luke 16:19-31)
Is this actually Samuel raised from the dead speaking through this medium, which only she can see? I am not sure- but what this spirit says is absolutely correct: his army will be defeated and Saul and his sons will be killed. They will enter Hades, the place of the dead.
Now these are the only conclusions I can make:
1. God permitted the spirit of Samuel to appear to the woman with his message.
2. The woman had contact with an evil spirit who took on the form of Samuel.
3. Regardless of who appeared or how, God allowed it and the message was true.
The point of this chapter and the teaching of God’s law in Deuteronomy is not that divination and the works of mediums is impossible. It teaches us it is to be avoided at all costs by God’s people because it is a form of idolatry. It is rebellion against God’s commands- disobedience opens one to believe the lies of the enemy. For when we sin, it is obvious we are not listening to God but to the enemy. Adam and Eve questioned God’s commandment to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. To be truthful, we often think- this was such an insignificant infraction. One mistake. Natural curiosity. They were confronted with the presence of this tree every day- for it lay in the vicinity of Tree of Life. Every day is a test of obedience, isn’t it?
You do not have to be a fortune teller to know every day there are temptations to disobey God. The culture around us makes it own rules. They decided for themselves how they will live, where they will go and what they will do. They ridicule you for believing in an ancient book.
COMPARISON AND CONTRAST
We have been studying I Samuel for several weeks. God’s Word has set before us the examples of several people’s lives: Hannah, Samuel, Eli, Saul, Jonathan, and David. If you have been following the story you see comparisons which provide us with contrast and contrast provides clarity, doesn’t it? Hannah is a godly woman. Eli – not so easy to describe. Jonathan- a picture of loyalty. Saul a picture of the flesh. David a young man of character, who though admirable makes mistakes. We are really comparing and contrasting their character. I would come to the conclusion: Hannah, Samuel, David and Jonathan are to be commended for their character. What builds character? It is built by how we handle adversity and tribulations. Depending on God to provide a way through that we might be able to bear it- is the making of character. Paul says we rejoice in tribulations for they produce perseverance (endurance) and perseverance produces character and character, hope which does not disappoint. So we rejoice in tribulations because we know they are not meaningless. They are for the purpose of building character. What we observed in this study is a comparison and contrast of how these people responded to adversity. They all wanted something- desired something. Something which would give their life purpose and meaning.
All of us want to live a good life. A life with meaning and fulfillment. We spend large amounts of our time preparing, learning, studying, training to have a life worth living. Look at the blocks of time you have spent in your life and then look at the average day in your life. How many hours do you spend on different activities? If you have retired you might think I am out of the rat race. But you are still part of the human race and Paul says you need to be training for godliness. *A life worth living is found in a love worth finding!*
“Train yourself to be godly. For physical training (exercise) is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (I Timothy 4)
The Greek culture was a culture which prized physical beauty and health. The Olympic games called for rigid exercise and training to compete in the Olympics and win the prize. Paul admits physical exercise has some value, but training for godliness has value for all things. Paul sees there is some value in physical exercise. But training for godliness- pursing holiness is much more profitable.
We find there are many good things which can become idols. Health, diet and fitness can become one. Yoga is a great exercise with positive physical outcomes which are profitable. But the purpose of Yoga’s philosophy is find harmony between body and mind. It derives its philosophy from Indian metaphysical belief on self-enlightenment. It focuses on breathing, posture, relaxation and meditation. Nothing wrong with those exercises. But be careful what the instructor is trying to accomplish. Satan can be very subtle and can disguise himself as angel of light or a yoga instructor telling you to empty your mind and to seek for your body and mind to be one. The Bible tells me in my flesh dwells no good thing. It also tells me the ‘things’ I should think on.
Hannah’s was willing to give God back what He gave her as a gift- her son, Samuel. Samuel’s life blessed many. And Mary, the mother of Jesus, was blessed by Hannah and quoted from Hannah’s prayer. Samuel blessed the nation of Israel and was a pivotal person in the transitions from judges to kings. He mentored the first two kings of Israel. Jonathan’s character speaks of loyalty and faithfulness. And David, in spite of his grave errors and sins, would go on to become the greatest king of Israel. David was God’s choice for king, because God knew David’s heart. David had a heart devoted to God. We must set apart our hearts for the Lord.
Saul in these ending chapters shows what depths he has sunk to in his drive to satisfy his own desires. Who do you turn to for advice, direction and answers? Saul seeks answers about the future from a medium, which God forbids.
We all turn aside at times and try to solve problems ourselves. It is usually in desperation we seek as David did to escape quickly the problems which loom before us.
FIVE FACTS WHICH REVEAL GOD’S WILL AND WHO HE WANTS US TO LIVE
1. God wants everyone to be saved and understand the truth. I Timothy 2: 4 tells us: “God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
2. God is not willing that any should perish, but all would come to repentance. 2Peter 3;9
3. God sent His Only Son, Jesus to pay for our sins and not only our sins but the sins of the world.
4. God has given His church the responsibility of telling the world. “We are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making His appeal through us.” ( 2 Cor. 5: 20)
5. God is going to hold us accountable for our actions. We are kingdom builders. Our works will be judged at the Bema. ( I Cor. 3: 10-15)
God wants you to succeed. This story is a story of contrasts between succeeding God’s way and trying to succeed the world’s way through self-sufficiency. Have you discovered as Peter did- who else can we turn to who has the word of eternal life. Turn to Jesus.