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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

1 Samuel 28

Verses 1-25

Saul and the Witch of Endor

1 Samuel 28:7

I. How Valued and Beneficent Presences may be Withdrawn. What pathos there is in the fact that on the eve of dreaded battle Saul has not his friend, his teacher, his pastor, to consult. Samuel was dead. Samuel had been everything to Saul. But Saul had not treated him well. He had slighted his old friend. Saul would have given a great deal to have had his rejected and grieved friend now, but 'Samuel was dead'.

II. How a Man may Cut Himself Off from Divine Influences. 'When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not.' May we get so forlornly far? Yes, we may so sin and sin and sin, we may so fatally harden ourselves, that God will have nothing to do with us.

III. How Low a Man may Sink by Sin, Is this Saul? Yes in ruins.

( a ) He is physically and mentally enfeebled. You see that by the fear and trembling which seizes him as he looks across from Gilboa to Shunem and sees the Philistine camp. His sins have so wrought on him that he is in a state of collapse.

( b ) Saul is now doing what once he condemned. Early in his reign he put out those that had familiar spirits and the wizards out of the land. Now he is actually proposing to consult one of the obnoxious herd.

( c ) Having given up God Saul is compelled to resort to strange methods. He the King of Israel is on the way to consult a woman who has a familiar spirit.

IV, See how the Tragedy Culminates. Saul's servants tell him that at Endor there is a woman reputed to have 'a familiar spirit'. Saul confronts the wild old creature at her cave door, a diabolical inspiration seems to be upon Saul, for he not only asks the witch to 'divine by the familiar spirit' but he goes so far as to beg her to practise necromancy and to read the future by means of the dead. The leering scoundrel says, 'whom shall I bring up unto thee?' The infatuated Saul, all trepid, shaking with uncontrollable excitement, cries 'Bring me up Samuel'. No description is given of the arts the witch used. But the issue is plainly stated. 'The woman saw Samuel,' and at the same time she discovered that her interlocutor was King Saul. Saul perceived it was Samuel. He falls overwhelmed and obeisant. And the spirit of the seer cries, 'Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up?' Saul tells his woeful tale. Samuel assures Saul that he can do nothing in his behalf, seeing God has become his adversary because of his sins. Then he adds this prophecy, 'To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me'.

V. From this Seance let us Learn

( a ) How God confounds evildoers. Little thought Saul that the scene in Endor's cave would be so tragically real.

( b ) How near is the spirit world; strangely soon did the spirit form appear. The world unseen is close to us.

( c ) Men seem to retain in the spirit world the appearance they have on earth. Samuel's form was identical with that he had when here.

( d ) God often gives solemn intimations concerning eternity 'To-morrow'. Saul and his sons were to die. The Almighty forewarns them.

( e ) Mercy rejoices over judgment in God. Samuel said to Saul, 'To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me'. 'With me.' And in what part of the spirit world was Samuel? Samuel was in immortal and ineffable bliss.

Saul and his sons were to be with Samuel. I think that this can only mean that Saul was in his few remaining hours to repent, and once more to receive 'the root of the matter' into his nature. Then when death destroyed his body his pardoned and purified soul was to be received into paradise. He who said to the dying robber, 'Today shalt thou be with Me,' allows Samuel to say to the stricken Saul, 'To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me'.

Dinsdale T. Young, Neglected People of the Bible, p. 74.

References. XXVIII. 6. J. Bowstead, Practical Sermons, vol. i. p. 80. XXVIII. 13. E. A. Askew, Sermons Preached in Greystoke Church, p. 21. XXVIII. 15. G. W. Brameld, Practical Sermons, p. 344. XXIX. 8. J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. ii. p. 256. XXX. 4-6. Ibid. Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. ii. p. 555.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/1-samuel-28.html. 1910.