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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 28

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-25

Chapter 28

So it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said to David, Know assuredly, that you shall go out to battle with me, you and your men. So David said to Achish, And you shall know what your servant can do. Achish said to David, Therefore I will make you the keeper of my head for ever. [In other words, sort of putting David over as his personal bodyguard and all.] Now Samuel was dead, and Israel had lamented for him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and wizards, out of the land. And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa ( 1 Samuel 28:1-4 ).

Now Gilboa is up in the area just south of the Sea of Galilee. So the Philistines had really moved a long way against the Israelites. Gilboa is clear over-actually the one side of Gilboa goes down to the Jordan River. So the Philistines had really taken a lot of the territories at this point. Saul was being boxed in to just a very small area. There he was encamped in Gilboa.

And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And Saul inquired of the Lord, but there was no answer either by dreams, nor by the Urim, nor by the prophets ( 1 Samuel 28:5-6 ).

Now God speaks to us in many different ways. God can speak to us by dreams. Now I don't believe that I personally have ever had a dream that had any spiritual significance to it. But now that I'm getting to the age, as the scripture said, "Your old men shall dream dreams," maybe I'm going to someday start getting dreams with spiritual significance. Let me say this, though to my own belief I've never had a dream with any spiritual significance, it doesn't stop me from realizing that I may someday have a dream that has spiritual significance, and I'm open to it. Just because I never had it, I don't say, "Well, God doesn't speak to men through dreams anymore." I believe that God can still speak to people through dreams, and I'm open to dreaming if God wants to speak to me in a dream, I'm open to it. I'd be thrilled and delighted to have God speak to me in a dream.

God also speaks to people through visions. Now I have had visions in which God did speak to me. God speaks to people through the prophets, and I have had God's word come to me through anointed brothers and sisters in Christ, that I recognize as God's word to me.

In the Old Testament God also spoke through the Urim and the Thummin, which were a part of the priest's garments. They were a little sort of a pouch that he wore, and they say that there was a black stone, and a white stone, and that the black stone was a no answer, and the white stone was yes. Whether or not that is actually so, I don't know, but somehow God spoke through the Urim and the Thummin. Now the words actually mean "lights and perfections," and it could be rather than stones, which have become sort of a traditional kind of a thing, it could be that this thing would light up that the priest wore. When God would say yes, that this thing would light up. But God was not answering Saul's prayers by any of these methods by which they were accustomed to God speaking to them.

Now I'm interested in God speaking to me, however. God spoke to some of them through angels. But God has spoken, and God continues to speak to me constantly through His Word. This, I think, is the place where you learn to start knowing to hear the voice of God, getting into the Word. It's so important that you're in the Word, and God has that opportunity to speak to you through His Word.

So God wasn't answering the prayers of Saul,

So Saul said to his servants, Find me a woman that has a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there's a woman that has a familiar spirit at Endor. And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, with two men, and they came to the woman at night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I will name unto thee. And the woman said unto him, Behold, you know what Saul hath done, he has cut off all of those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards out of the land: why are you laying a snare for my life, to cause me to die? And Saul swore to her by Jehovah, saying, As Jehovah lives, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing ( 1 Samuel 28:7-10 ).

Now there of course is that weird mixture in Saul. Here he is talking to a witch, and swearing by the Lord that no evil will come to her if she goes ahead and practices her witchcraft and brings forth a spirit that he is desiring. "As Jehovah lives," swearing by the Lord.

There are a lot of people who are really mixed up in the whole spiritual life, just a total confusion in spiritual things, using spiritual phraseology. You know, it's like planning to rob a bank, and then having a prayer meeting, "Now Lord, help us to pull off this job successfully." It's just really confusion. Here he is engaged in this woman who is possessed by a demon. Actually that's what it means, "a familiar spirit," a demon-possessed woman. Going to her for counsel and advice, bringing back a spirit.

And then the woman said, Whom shall I bring up to thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. And when the woman saw Samuel, she screamed: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why have you deceived me? for you are Saul. And the king said unto her, Don't be afraid: what did you see? And the woman said, I saw the gods ascending out of the earth. And he said unto her, What form was he? And she said, He was like an old man covered up; and his coverings with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. And Samuel said to Saul, Why have you 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 he answers me no more, neither by the prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I've called thee, that you may make known to me what I shall do. Then said Samuel, Why do you ask me, seeing the Lord is departed from you, and is become your enemy? And the Lord hath done to him, as he spoke by me: for the Lord has taken the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbour, even to David: And because you obeyed not the voice of the Lord, nor executed 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 hand of the Philistines: and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me: [Oh, that would be a heavy thing to lay upon somebody wouldn't it?] and he'll deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 28:11-19 ).

Now did Samuel really come back? Did this witch actually bring back a spirit from the dead? I would like to say I see no reason at all for not believing the story just as it is written. I always feel that the obvious interpretation is the correct interpretation. If you try to force another interpretation into the text, that actually the very fact that you're trying to force something, means that it doesn't fit. I do not understand this whole issue. But I am convinced that even as it is written, so it happened, and that somehow Samuel did come back. That it was indeed Samuel that talked with Saul. The spirit of Samuel was brought back, and that it was a genuine experience of dealing with spirits that have departed and are in the other world.

It would seem that the witch herself was shocked because of what happened. She screamed when she saw Samuel. It could be that she had been using, as these spirit mediums all, often do, just a particular demon spirit that gives them information.

Now there is a reality to the spirit world, there is a reality in spiritism, but you are warned by the Bible to stay away from that kind of stuff. That is, isn't something that you should be dabbling with. But it is possible to contact spirit entities. But as a general rule what a person is contacting is a demon that can disguise himself as different persons.

Now these demons having lived in the various ages, and being in the spirit realm, able to observe many things, are naturally able to tell you facts about your life, and about the past that nobody else ever knew. Usually people are drawn into these kinds of things because the person is able to tell them names, and to tell them experiences that they had as a child, or that they had sometime during their life that is sort of locked up in their own heart. They've never told anybody else, and now this spirit has told me and revealed these things to me, and you get all excited and you think, "Oh, I'm actually contacting the spirit of my mother, because that was something that only my mother and I knew." Not so. Demons knew it too. Thus they are able to rehearse for you conversations that you had, experiences that you had, things that took place. Lying spirits disguising themselves as one of your dead loved ones. There is a reality to the demon spirits and all, and this woman having a familiar spirit, or a demon spirit, was able to consult the demon spirit.

Now there are people who dabble into this realm of spiritism and some of them get spirit guides, and they direct their writing, or they direct their arts, and people get into all kinds of things, using spirit guides. But they are demon spirits who disguise themselves as say the spirit of a writer of the past, or something of this nature.

There is a real world of spirits. There is a real world of demon spirits, as there is the real world of the angelic spirits that are still obedient to God. But it is the world that we are warned not to dabble with, not to get involved with. The fact that they can hypnotize a person and put them in age regression, take them back before their birth, and then supposedly go back to previous lives, and get the names of Annie Murphy and the street she lived on, and all this kind of stuff, doesn't prove reincarnation at all. It only proves demons have been around for a long time, and they can use all kinds of guises in order to deceive people, and draw people into their deceptions.

Now I personally believe that this woman was shocked and surprised when Samuel came back. She expected to have a little conversation with her demon guide, and her demon spirit, and from him to get the information that Saul was seeking. But to her amazement this spirit actually came out of the earth, and she shrieked when she saw it. All of a sudden she realized the truth, "That's Saul." Samuel began to talk to Saul, and God allowed this to happen, a special dispensation of God that surely it isn't a criteria for us to seek to contact the spirits of those that have departed to be with the Lord.

Now Samuel came up out of the earth, prior to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, every one who died went into Sheol which is in the lower parts of the earth, or in the heart of the earth. Prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Sheol was divided into two separate compartments as is taught by Jesus in Luke's gospel chapter sixteen. There was one compartment where Abraham was encouraging, and comforting those who died in faith. There was another part where the sinners were being in a state of torment. Jesus speaks about it very clearly and plainly in Luke's gospel. After the ascension of Jesus Christ or at the ascension of Jesus Christ, those who were being comforted by Abraham, and in that part of Sheol were resurrected with Christ, and went on into the heavenly scene.

For Paul tells us in Ephesians, the fourth chapter, "He who has ascended is the same One who first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth, and when He ascended, he led the captives from their captivity." Fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah sixty-one that declared, "He would loose the bonds, and set at liberty those that were captives." So He set at liberty those that were being held captive by death. In Matthew twenty-seven we read, "And the graves of many of the saints were opened, and they were seen walking through the streets of Jerusalem after His resurrection from the dead."

So Samuel coming up out of the earth, spoke to Saul telling him that God had departed from him. What a horrible thing. But you see, what could you expect? He was a man who had departed first from God. "Because you disobeyed the voice of God, God has departed from you. Because you have rejected God, God has rejected you. And tomorrow you and your sons are gonna be here with me."

Saul fell on the ground, he was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: there were no strength left in him; for he had not eaten all that day, nor that evening. The woman came to Saul, and she saw that he was [afraid,] troubled, she said, Behold, your handmaid has obeyed your voice, I've put my life in my hand, I've hearkened unto your words which you spoke unto me. Now I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before you; that you may eat, and have strength, that you may go your way. And he refused, and he said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, pressed upon him until he ate; and so the woman fixed dinner for him ( 1 Samuel 28:20-25 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-samuel-28.html. 2014.
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