Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 28:15

Then Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" And Saul answered, "I am greatly distressed; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and no longer answers me, either through prophets or by dreams; therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Apostasy;   En-Dor;   Familiar Spirits;   Holy Spirit;   Necromancy;   Reprobacy;   Samuel;   Saul;   Sorcery;   Witchcraft;   Thompson Chain Reference - Comfort-Misery;   Misery;   Sin;   Sin's;   Sinners;   Wicked, the;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Idolatry;   Prayer, Answers to;   Prophets;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Endor;   Soul;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Samuel;   Saul, king of israel;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Descent into Hell (Hades);   Magic;   Sheol;   Word;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Magic;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Divination;   Saul;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Divination and Magic;   Medium;   Samuel, Books of;   Urim and Thummim;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Death;   Dreams;   En-Dor;   Eschatology;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Descent into Hades;   Dream (2);   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Magic;   Saul;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Intercession;   Samuel;   Samuel, Books of;   Sheol;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Abraham Ha-Levi ben Eliezer Ha-Zaḳ;   Dreams;   Endor, the Witch of;   Samuel;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for February 9;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Why hast thou disquieted me - The complaint is not directed against the woman but against Saul. Indeed, her incantations had no influence in the business, and it does not appear that she had commenced her operations before the angels had prepared the way of the prophet, and before the prophet himself had made his appearance.

That thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do - In his former difficulties, and when pressed by his enemies, he was in the habit of consulting Samuel; and now he applies to him as his former preceptor. God, he knew, might answer by such a man as Samuel, when he would answer by no other means.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Samuel 28:15

God is departed from me.

“Without God in the world”

It is not in the power of language to depict a more terrible and hopeless condition for a rational creature to be in than that set forth in these five words of Scripture. And the climax of Paul’s description of man’s unregenerate state is: “Having no hope, and without God in the world.” Let us glance at the true meaning and significance of the words.

1. They do not mean that God has absolved them from all obligation--no longer sustains relations with them--has withdrawn His supervision and feels no concern on their account. For He holds them to strict account the same as with other men; He takes cognizance of their daily conduct, the same as if they were on terms of intimacy.

2. But they do mean:

3. Glance at the awfulness of such a condition!

Humanity consciously deserted of God

There are two stages in the history of human depravity.

1. Man deserts God. God calls, and man refuses.

2. God deserts man. The Eternal departs from him, which means a discontinuance of the overtures of His love, and His agencies to restore; it is leaving man to himself, to reap the labour of his own hands; it is the physician giving up the patient; the tender father closing the door against his reprobate child. In the first stage, we find the vast majorities of mankind in every age; in the second, we may find some of earth in every period. This stage is hell. The first stage is probation; the second stage is retribution. This second and final stage Saul had reached. All guiding oracles were hushed to him. The Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. Deep is the necessity he feels for supernatural help. He feels himself deserted by God. This passage presents three considerations concerning mankind in this state.

I. That humanity under a consciousness of God’s desertion will ever be impressed with the need of the forfeited means of Divine communion. There was a time when Saul had communications with his Maker. The prophets were accessible to him. He could consult the Urim on the breast of the high priest; but he had lost all now: he had slain the high priest; Samuel was dead; the Spirit of the Lord forsook him, and the heavens were closed against him. How deep and earnest is the cry, “Bring me up Samuel.” Oh! for one word from God now. Oh! that I could have but one more message from those sealed heavens. The deep cry of humanity, under a consciousness that God had deserted it, is, “Oh! that I knew but where I might, find him.” Captives away in Babylon, how did the Jews value the temple which, perhaps, they often neglected when at home? Sinner, value and improve the means of Divine communion now: God is speaking to you, through ministers, the Bible, and other books.

II. That humanity, under a consciousness of God’s desertion, becomes the subject of fearful delusions. Such delusions seem to me to spring naturally from his excited state of mired.

1. It presented a vivid vision of the teacher whose counsels had been neglected. The imagination of a conscience-stricken sinner will bring old reechoes from their graves, give them voice, and make them speak again.

2. It proclaimed the sin and pronounced the doom. (1 Samuel 28:18-19.) Imagination now gives a voice of thunder to all this whispering of conscience. Imagination is a terrible faculty, when swayed by a guilty conscience. What visions it can unfold! It can create a subjective world, whose firmament is “black as sackcloth,” whose tenants are fiends, whose stormy atmosphere is rent by lightnings and loaded with shrieks of anguish.

III. That humanity, under a consciousness of God’s desertion, must sink into unmitigated despair. Here is despair prostrating the man. The guilty mind, in despair, loses three elements of power.

1. Hope. What an inspiring element is this! How it sustains under trial! How it stimulates in enterprise!

2. Purpose. Mind is only powerful and happy as it has some purpose to engage its attention and energies: but in despair there is no purpose; the mind looks abroad on the dark universe and finds nothing to do.

3. Sympathy. A God-deserted mind has no sympathy: all hearts recoil from a sin-convicted soul, and it turns in upon itself. (Homilist.)

Abandoned of God

It is the saddest, the most despairing confession that ever fell from human lips. We can sympathise with the bitterness of the more ordinary losses and bereavements of men. But we cannot rise to the full agony of Saul’s confession, nor sympathise with the sadness and hopelessness of spirit that wail through it, like the winds through the vaults of the dead.

I. We consider the departure of God. There are two sets of moral forces in the world contending with each other for the possession of the spirit of man, called in Scripture the one, the powers of the world to come; the other, the powers of this present evil world. The former is a holy beneficent order of influences which have their source in the nature and life of God; the latter is a destructive, despoiling, degrading order. Now, just as the laws and forces of the material world build up the external economy of things, so do these two sets of influences mould and form human character. They are obviously diametrically opposed to each other in their aim and tendency; they try to bear and pull the spirit of life in each man in opposite directions. What therefore had happened in the experience of Saul was this: that the set of virtues or holy energies that have their origin in God and that pull men Godward, had ceased to strive for the possession of his spirit; and had left him to the undisputed sovereignty of the powers of this present evil world. And look at what happened in the nature of Saul when God had departed from him in this sense--the only sense in which God ever departs from a man. His once fine and brave and manly nature--manly and brave and fine as long as God stayed to make and keep it so--grew suspicious and bitter and restless, and filled with slavish fear. It is a law which holds for all time, which is as fixed and unalterable as the laws of the physical universe; it is an eternal law that separation from God involves moral disorder, and the tyranny of all the destroying influences that prey upon human hearts. Saul’s experience unfolds to us what would happen did God depart from the social life of today, be it village life, or commercial life, or court life; did He depart from any of the spheres of life where men meet and associate and deal with men. Society is impossible without the felt presence of God, warring against sin and keeping it down in the hearts of men. And in the case of the individual, too, every kind of moral disorder and wretchedness is involved in the departure of God. The individual soul is the realm of God’s most holy and blessed activities. Oh, it is fearful when God, as the moral force in the soul, departs from a man; for in this world there is a great conspiracy and confederacy against our truest good, the cunning of which God alone can baffle and God alone can confound. Without Him our very conceptions of righteousness will be unworthy; our consciences will get seared, as though a hot iron had passed over them, deadening their sensitive papillae; our hearts will give birth to bad devices, unholy plans, and thoughts of lawless and forbidden pleasures. Our whole nature will get cankered and corrupted, unless the sweet, refreshing waters of life are ever circulating in us. In short, there is no crime or sin which is not possible to, and likely to happen in, the life of the man from whom God has departed.

II. We have now to consider what Saul had done to compel God to depart. It was Saul’s disobedience and perverseness of temper that drove God away. By the requisite devices of overlooking, despising, rejecting, wearying, and tiring out the reproving presence of God’s spirit in him, he bad succeeded in making complete isolation between his soul and the Soul of souls. He determined against his better reason to keep his sins and his bad heart, and to take his own will and way. Never does the great Father of us all send an evil spirit into the hearts and minds of men. Every spirit that cornea from God, comes of holy ministries of love and blessing; comes to strive to bring bad men under the power of goodness; comes to war a noble warfare with the evil which Saul grappled to his soul as though it were his tried and adopted friend. What is it that turns God into a relentless foe? or, rather, what is it that so throws our eyes off the straight line of moral vision that we seem to see the great loving Father and a tyrant? We say, sin. Yes; but what kind of sin? Such sins as those of Noah, David, and Peter--drunkenness, lust and murder, falsehood and profanity--alienate God till the dark hour of anguish Domes, but do not compel an absolute departure. The sin of Saul must have been the unpardonable one--the resolute refusal to surrender the spirit of our life into God’s hands that we may be formed and shaped by Him. (James Forfar.)

Saul God forsaken

What a complication of calamities! What a deluge of distress and misery!

I. Reflect a moment on the language of his complaint. “The Philistines are come upon me.” However disproportionate the forces of a defending army, a Christian king and a Christian people are secure. “A thousand shall fall at their side, and ten thousand at their right hand, but it shall not Dome nigh them.” But when a man forsakes the Lord until the season of distress, who can wonder if his repentance is destitute of the character of sincerity, and he is left to perish. “If ye walk contrary to me, I will walk contrary to you,” is the threatening of that God who has justice as well as mercy.

1. But still, listen to his cry, “The Lord hath forsaken me.” This is indescribably dreadful! Better that all the world should leave us, better that we lose our health, our strength, our property, our friends, than be forsaken of Him whose smile is Heaven, whose frown is hell. What a state of abandonment, what a state of orphanage! With no eye to pity, with no arm to save. But what follows from such withdrawment of the greatest and the best of Beings? Penal blindness of mind, hardness of heart, the uncontrolled sway of evil passions, left a prey to the tempter, and to the influence and associations of wicked men. But this is not all; hear him yet again: “And the Lord answers me not, neither by prophets nor by dreams.” This, if possible, is still more distressing and dreadful than before. What a privilege is prayer! What must it be to have our prayers rejected.

II. The method which he adopted to obtain relief. What a wretched expedient for soothing the anguish of a guilty conscience! And yet how often do we see subterfuges, equally untenable and unsafe, resorted to by transgressors to stifle conviction, to prevent reflection, to silence the accusations of a guilty mind, and to obtain a little temporary relief.

III. Let us now contemplate his overthrow--his monitory death. What does this subject suggest for our mutual improvement?

1. How possible it is to live and die without hope in the world though surrounded by religious advantages.

2. We learn the awful consequences of rebellion against God. (B. Leach.)


I desire to set before you the end to which in this world allowed sin brings finally the impenitent man. Now that state is spoken of in God’s Word under various awful descriptions. It is described as one in which the heart is hardened; as one in which a man is “given over to a reprobate mind;” in which he is “to every good work reprobate;” in which men “have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” They are spoken of as “reprobate concerning the faith;” as having “treasured up” for themselves “wrath against the day of wrath;” as having “grieved,”--yea, and “quenched,”--the “Holy Spirit of God.” Now these passages of God’s Word suffice of themselves to show that there is here in this world such a state as that of final impenitence: and what can be added to those words to describe its misery and horror! Yet it may be well for us, instead of simply resting in them, to examine more in detail wherein their fearfulness consists; that so, of God’s mercy, we may be driven by the sight to cry to Him with greater earnestness to save us from all danger of failing ourselves into this most deadly state.

1. Now, in entering on this subject, we must remember what is involved in that certain truth which is set before us from one end of the Bible to the other, namely, that we, in this world, are really in a state of probation.

2. Now, mark how that probation is accomplished:

“Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” Now the effect of such conduct on an earthly friend would be that it would lead him to withdraw himself from the intimate relationship of an undisturbed affection; and so we are taught that from the heart so resisting Him the Holy One withdraws Himself. Now as a necessary consequence of such a withdrawal, the progress of the forsaken soul towards final hardness is inevitable. The injured quality of the soil makes it need more urgently than before, if it is to yield any good upgrowth, the refreshment of cooling showers, and at that very time the decree has gone forth to the clouds of heaven that they rain no rain upon it.

3. What the downward process of such a soul must be we may see at once by recalling what we saw to be the Spirit’s gracious influences upon one whom He was sanctifying, and so estimating the consequences of their withdrawal. For reproofs for sin would in such a heart sink first into a whisper, and then die out in silence. And as they expired the conscience would be struck with dumbness, and the first cause therefore of a saving penitence would be removed. Next, the secret voice teaching the heart, and reminding it of the words of Christ, would cease to speak; and with this would fail also those first drawings of the affections towards God, which are as the tender bud of a future penitence, and which can awaken only beneath the Cross of Christ, and within the sound of His words of love, as the Blessed Spirit reveals them to the soul. So that there would be in such a heart nothing to begin that work of true repentance, which without the aid of the good Spirit cannot originate in fallen man. Nor is even this all. For in this heart there would be no shedding abroad the sweet reviving influences of love; there would be no sealing it by the pressure of a moulding hand to the day of redemption. So that such a heart must harden daily. The law of evil must daily pervade it more thoroughly, until it comes to choose sin as sin: whilst from such a state there is nothing to awaken it. And this is the awful, hopeless, rayless, outer darkness of the full and final impenitence of a reasonable soul which has failed utterly in its moral probation. Here, then, we reach the consummation of this course. It leads down to an impenitent despair. At this point, then, let us for a moment pause, and see the conclusion we have reached. It is, that this state of final, hopeless impenitence is the natural conclusion of a life spent under the influences of God’s Blessed Spirit by a reasonable moral agent, who by his neglect of or resistance to them, makes them turn into his uttermost condemnation. For as death can come to no man by chance, as the time of closing his day of trial must be exactly and certainly fixed for every man by God’s sovereign Will, does it not necessarily follow from the fact of God having placed him in this probation, that no man is taken from his life of trial with the trial incomplete? that no branch in the living Vine is taken away until it is indeed certain that it will bear no fruit. In fine, instead of its being a rare and uncommon thing for men to reach a state of final impenitence, it is the real and most awful secret of every hopeless death. And if this be so, with what a dreadful character does this truth invest every allowance of wilful sin in us Christians! That probation differs, of course, necessarily in every different man. The same act of sin may embody in itself, in the case of two different men, utterly different degrees of resistance to the Holy Spirit. Such is the lesson taught us by the examples set before us in God’s Word. Yet two such examples at least there are set before us in its pages--that of Saul in the Old Testament, and that of Judas in the New. In the history of Saul are traced with minuteness of detail the gifts of grace against which his sins of self-will and rebellion against Gad had been committed, until “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” Thenceforward the features of one whose heart was hardening look ever out upon us from his life. And to what an end does all this bring him! Who can read unmoved the record of those wild throbbings of despair which drove him, who in his better day had cut off those that had familiar spirits and the wizards from the land, to the sorceress at Endor; or the history of all that there awaited him? The deceitful tempter, now turned into the merciless accuser, took up the fierce utterance of that still hard though broken heart--“I am sore distressed,” etc. Here is no mingling of mercy with judgment, no call to repentance, no sweet whisper of pardon. These, then, are our lessons from this fearful subject. First, that we strive diligently to maintain such a temper of watchful observance for the motions of the Blessed Spirit as that we may never unawares resist or neglect any of His lightest intimations. Without this watchful observance we are sure to interrupt His work. For if the soul be heated with worldliness, or covered with the dust of the earth, how shall it receive those heavenly colours with which He would brighten and adorn it? if it be perpetually distracted by ten thousand cares, how shall it be ready to entertain His presence? Lastly, if through our exceeding feebleness we have fallen, let us learn to look straight to the cross of Christ, and strive diligently in His strength to arise again; that we fly to Him as for our lives, crying only to Him out of our low estate, “Forsake not, O Lord, the work of Thine own hands: Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit, from me.” (Bishop Wilberforce.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Samuel 28:15". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible


"Then Samuel said to Saul, `Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up'? Saul answered, `I am in great distress; for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; therefore I have summoned you up to tell me what I should do.' And Samuel said, `Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.'"

"Samuel said, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up"?" (1 Samuel 28:15). Note that the alleged "Samuel" here does not credit the Lord with having brought him up, but charges Saul with having done it. Such a lie was of Satan, not of God. Saul never, in a million years, had the power through some abominable witch to raise the dead!

The bitter words to Saul found throughout most of this paragraph could not therefore be the true words of the prophet Samuel. R. P. Smith identified them as the words of the abominable witch. "The woman gladly took a bitter revenge on the man who had cruelly put to death nearly all of her contemporary professional mediums. She had recognized Saul as her hated enemy as soon as he entered her place, but professed not to know him till his name was revealed to her by the pretended apparition, in the name of which she reproached him for his crimes and announced to him what everybody in Israel already knew, that God would take away his kingdom and give it to David. In view of Deuteronomy 18:10, we cannot believe that the Bible would set before us an instance of witchcraft employed with Divine sanction for holy purposes."[24]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Samuel said to Saul, why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up?.... This makes it a clear case that this was not the true Samuel; his soul was at rest in Abraham's bosom, in the state of bliss and happiness in heaven, and it was not in the power of men and devils to disquiet it; nor would he have talked of his being brought up, but rather of his coming down, had it been really he; much less would he have acknowledged that he was brought up by Saul, by means of a witch, and through the help of the devil:

and Saul answered, I am sore distressed; in mind, being in great straits and difficulties, pressed hard upon by men, and forsaken of God, as follows:

for the Philistines make war against me; so they had many times, and he had been victorious, and had no reason to be so much distressed, if that was all: but he adds:

and God is departed from me: and therefore he feared he should be left to fall into their hands; and that he had forsaken him he concluded from hence,

and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: See Gill on 1 Samuel 28:6; he makes no mention of Urim, either because they were not with him to inquire by, being carried away by Abiathar when he fled to David, 1 Samuel 23:9; or, as the Jews sayF8T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 12. 2. , through shame, he said nothing of the Urim before Samuel, as he took this appearance to be, because he had slain the priests at Nob, and because of this shame, they say, his sin was forgiven him:

therefore have I called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do; which was downright madness and folly to imagine, that since God had forsaken him, and would give him no answer, that a prophet of his should take his part; or when he could get no answer from a prophet of God on earth, that he could expect an agreeable one from one fetched down from heaven: one would be tempted to think that he himself believed it was the devil he was talking to, and whom he had called for under the name of Samuel, and expected to see; for from whom else could he expect advice, when he was forsaken of God, and his prophets?

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou 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 answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

Called Samuel — Happy had it been, if he had called Samuel sooner, or rather the God of Samuel! It was now too late: destruction was at hand and God had determined, it should not be stayed.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘God is departed from me.’

1 Samuel 28:15

I. There were three courses open to Saul: he might sit down in quiet hopelessness, and let the evil come; or he might in faith and penitent submission commit the whole matter to God, even amid the awful silence; or he might betake himself to hell for counsel, since heaven was deaf. He chooses the last! ‘God has cast me off; I will betake myself to Satan. Heaven’s door is shut; I will see if hell’s be open.’ … Aindur, as the home of Saul’s far-famed witch is now called, is a wretched-looking place, and yet the position at the north-east corner of Little Hermon, facing Tabor, and overlooking the valley between them, is really beautiful. The declivity of the mountain is everywhere perforated with caves, and most of the habitations are merely walls built around the entrance to these caverns. The ‘witch’ doubtless occupied one of these caves.

II. As the journey was very dangerous, Saul disguised himself, and went by night, accompanied only by two men; and nothing could more plainly set before us his mental anguish, and also his intense desire to pry into the secrets of futurity, than this strange journey. All faith and hope was gone, and a feverish excitement, ready to catch at any aid, however lawless and untrustworthy, had taken their place.

Two hundred years before the battle in which Saul was slain, another leader of Israel had stood upon that same battle-range of Gilboa. A like innumerable hostile array was encamped below, or upon the opposite slope of Little Hermon. But Gideon, to meet the enemy, had only three hundred men; Saul had ‘all Israel.’ Yet Gideon made ready for the onset, hopeful and stout-hearted, while Saul ‘greatly trembled,’ because Gideon’s sword was also ‘the sword of the Lord,’ while from Saul the Spirit of God had long since departed. Within twenty-four hours preceding either battle, both these chieftains had taken brief excursions from their camps. Both were attended by only one or two retainers. Both stole away by night clandestinely. Both went where it was peril to go: Gideon within the enemy’s lines, Saul into a witch’s den. Yet Gideon returned exultant, while Saul ‘fell all along on the earth, sore afraid,’ because Gideon went where God had sent him; Saul, against God’s express statute.

III. With unendurable remorse within, and a vague premonition of doom blackening the very night which overhung his secret, silent steps, Saul sought from the woman at Endor that knowledge of the future which he could no longer receive from a rejected God.—And, strangely enough, too, it is Samuel, God’s prophet, that he would see and hear—a fact which shows where his inmost belief has rested all through his evil career—a fact which includes confession with conviction of guilt, but the confession of remorse, like that of Judas, leading only to self-murder. All human history has failed to record a despair deeper or more tragic than his, who having forsaken God and being of God forsaken, is now seeking to move hell, since Heaven is inexorable to him; and, infinitely guilty as he is, assuredly there is something unutterably pathetic in that yearning of the disanointed king, now in his utter desolation, to change words once more with the friend and counsellor of his youth, and if he must hear his doom, to hear it from no other lips but his.

IV. We hear the wail of a perturbed spirit—‘I am sore distressed:’ but no confession of sin, no accent of repentance.—Saul never fairly faces the question of his own misconduct, always palliates his sin, always evades self-judgment and self-reproach. ‘What shall I do?’ The silence of God and the words of Samuel show that practically this was a question for which no answer was possible. The day for doing was in the past, when Samuel delivered instructions in the name of God. Years of persistent impenitence for disobedience, and of self-willed warring against the purposes of God, had brought the unhappy man to a time and position in which no action on his part could reverse the judgment impending. Too late! So is it in human life still. Men may persist in evil ways till ruin is inevitable, and no course is open for retrieval. The time for doing was now past. In quick succession it comes, like thunderbolt on thunderbolt: ‘Jehovah thine enemy’; ‘Jehovah hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to David’; ‘thy sins have overtaken thee!’ All this Saul knew long ago, although he had never realised it as now. And then as to his fate: to-morrow—defeat, death, slaughter, to Saul, to his sons, to Israel!


(1) ‘The most terrible fact of all is the total absence of all penitence on the part of Saul. He was clear of offences which make some pages in David’s history nothing better than one huge blot. But oh! how much better it would have been to have sinned like David, if only he had repented like David; if a temper resembling at all the temper which dictated the fifty-first Psalm had found place in him. But all this was far from him. Darkness is closing round him; anguish has taken hold of him; but the broken and the contrite heart, there is no remotest sign or token of this; no reaching out after the blood of sprinkling. We listen, but no voice reaches us like his who exclaimed, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow’; but dark and defiant and unbelieving, he who had inspired such high hopes, he who for a while seemed about to justify them all, goes forward to meet his doom.’

(2) ‘The spirits of the departed live in the region that God hath given them—out of the body we know; but whether by knowledge and sympathy in any close connection with the living, we cannot tell. But across the gulf that divides us and them, one utterance of theirs falls upon our listening ear—“To-morrow,”—they say to us—a few more days—a few more years it may be to us—to-morrow to them,—“thou, too, shalt be with us.’ Let us drink the message in; and as we know that the passage into the world of spirits is so near, and shall bring with it such solemn issues, so let this short day of life be spent by each of us humbly, watchfully, prayerfully, dutifully, that when that morrow cometh, instead of lost spirits rising to mock our advent with the scornful question, “Art thou also become one of us?” happy spirits with outstretched arms may welcome us to the sunbright shores of an unshadowed eternity.’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 28:15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou 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 answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

Ver. 15. Why hast thou disguieted me?] This the true Samuel would never have said; sed ut specie Samuelem ita verbis mentiebatur diabolus, but as the devil had personated Samuel in his form, so now he doth in his words.

And God is departed from me.] Whereupon all mischiefs came rushing in upon him, as by a sluice. See Hosea 9:12. {See Trapp on "Hosea 9:12"}

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 28:15

We have before us here a picture of a God-deserted man; one who has in former times had plenteous advantage and revelation, but who has forsaken God until God has forsaken him in turn, and who is now joined to his idols, seared against the penitent desire; one who presents that most appalling of all wrecks of ruin—a human soul consciously severed from the sympathy, and bereft of the favour, of the Divine.

I. There is illustrated here the accelerating progress of evil. From the monarch on the eve of the battle of Jabesh-Gilead, to the monarch on the eve of the battle of Gilboa, what a fearful fall! Saul had suffered, because Saul had sinned. In his elevation he had forgotten God. Pride had stolen away his heart; he had been guilty of repeated and flagrant disobedience, and it is an easy descent to perdition when the bias of the nature is seconded by the strenuous endeavours of the will.

II. To every sinner there will come his moment of need. The worldling may prolong his revelry and accumulate his gain, but the hour will come when he will discover that the world is a cheat and that riches cannot always profit. Your hour of need may be nearer than you think. God's mercy may still delay it, but it will come—the hour of trial, when sorrow breaks upon sorrow, like billows upon a desolate strand. Flee to the ever-willing Saviour now and you shall have no need to work some foul enchantment in order to wring direction from the sheeted dead.

III. This subject illustrates the terrible power of conscience. Saul's greatest enemy was within—the wounded spirit, a more dreaded foe than all the Philistine armies; the dogs of remorse more furious than the dogs of war. And so it always is with the sinner. Christ alone can still the tempest with a word, whether it rage upon a Lake of Galilee or surge and swell on a poor sinner's soul.

W. MORLEY Punshon, Sermons, p. 35.

I. We, in this world, are in a state of probation. (1) We are placed amongst a multitude of outward things which perpetually force us to choose whether we will act in this way or in that; and every one of these choices must agree with the holy and perfect will of God, or else be opposed to it. (2) The especial trial of us Christians consists in our being placed amongst these temptations under the personal influence of God the Holy Ghost, so that in every such distinct act of choice there is either a direct yielding, or a direct opposition to His secret suggestions.

II. The necessary consequences of every act of resistance to the Holy Spirit must, by a twofold process, carry us on towards final impenitence. For (1) by our moral constitution, the breaking through any restraint from evil, or the resisting any suggestion of good, carries us by an inevitable reaction somewhat farther than we were before in the opposite direction. (2) By resisting the Holy Spirit we cause Him to withdraw from us those influences for good in which is alone for us the spring and possibility of amendment. As a necessary consequence of such a withdrawal the progress of the forsaken soul towards final hardness is inevitable.

III. These, then, are the lessons from this fearful subject. (1) That we strive diligently to maintain such a temper of watchful observance for the motions of the Blessed Spirit as that we may never unawares resist or neglect any of His lightest intimations. (2) Let us learn not to trifle with any sin. (3) If through our exceeding feebleness we have fallen, let us learn to look straight to the cross of Christ and strive diligently in His strength to arise again.

S. Wilberforce, University Sermons, p. 222.

References: 1 Samuel 28:15.—M. Nicholson, Communion with Heaven, p. 206; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. v., p. 1. 1 Samuel 29:6. with 1 Samuel 30:1, 1 Samuel 30:2.—F. W. Krummacher, David the King of Israel, p. 199; Parker, vol. vii., p. 52. 1 Samuel 29:8.—J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. ii., p. 256. 1 Samuel 30:6.—J. Van Oosterzee, Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 448; J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, vol. ii., p. 195. 1 Samuel 30:6-8.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii., No. 1606. 1 Samuel 30:13. —Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 72. 1 Samuel 30:20.—Ibid., My Sermon Notes, Genesis to Proverbs, p. 64. 1 Samuel 30:24.—Outline Sermons for Children, p. 43. 1 Samuel 31:4.—R. C. Trench, Sermons Preached in Ireland, p. 321.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Samuel 28:15. Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me Houbigant observes very justly, that Samuel complains not of the woman, but of Saul, for disquieting him; whence it appears clear, that Samuel was not raised up by her magic arts, but by the will of God. Samuel's disquiet plainly arose from Saul's hardened impenitence in the way of religion. It was this that grieved and provoked him; and so it should be translated: Why hast thou provoked me, to make me rise up?—Why dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee? But is it probable, say some, that God, who had refused to answer Saul by all the accustomed methods, would, to satisfy him, raise up Samuel to apprize him of his destiny? We answer, I. That Saul had not consulted God by Urim, or by prophets; for the Urim was with David; and there was probably no prophet then alive, to whom God communicated himself either by vision, or by his prophet; and that in the methods which he had employed, he had conducted himself hypocritically, and without any right impression of religion. II. We answer, that Saul, in danger, and anxious about the event of it, applies to a Pythoness, to assist him by her incantations, and to call up the spirit of Samuel; but before she articulates one word of her spells or charms, the prophet interposes, frightens her, and pronounces Saul's doom; and she herself witnesses the truth of his appearance. God is not so tied down to his own institutions, that he cannot at any time depart from them. That God should manifest himself by his prophets, to encourage or countenance what he himself had forbidden, is indeed very unlikely, or, to speak more justly, very absurd to suppose. But that he should interpose to reprove that practice, is perfectly compatible with all our ideas of his perfections.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



1 Samuel 28:15. And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou 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 answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

THAT such a thing as witchcraft has existed, we cannot doubt: but what were the incantations used, or what power Satan had to work with and by them, we know not. Certain it is, that in the days of our Lord, Satan appears to have had a greater influence over the bodies of men than he possesses at this time: and as that was permitted of God for the more abundant display of Christ’s power, so it is probable that an extraordinary influence over the minds of men may, through the divine permission, have been sometimes exerted by Satan, that the evil tendency of that influence might be the more clearly seen, and the excellence of the divine government be more justly appreciated. As for the various instances of witchcraft recorded in uninspired books, we can place no dependence whatever upon them; because there is often an undue degree of credulity even in great and good men, and a readiness to receive any report that is marvellous, without sufficiently examining the grounds on which it stands. But what is recorded in the Scriptures we may well believe; because it is revealed by One who cannot err. The account given us of the witch of Endor is one of the most remarkable in the Scriptures; though there are in it some difficulties, which have occasioned a diversity of opinions among the learned respecting it. That, however, we may place it before you in an easy and instructive point of view, we shall consider the history of Saul connected with it; and particularly,

I. The state to which he was reduced—

This he himself specifies in the words of our text—

[Long and obstinately had he continued to sin against the convictions of his own conscience; till at last he had provoked God to depart from him. Whilst he was forsaken of his God, the Philistines made war against him, and invaded the land. Then he felt the need of an Almighty Protector, and sought to obtain direction and help from has offended God. But now God would not be found of him, or take any notice of his supplications. In various ways had God been wont to communicate his mind; but now he would return “no answer, either by Urim, or by a prophet, or by a dream.”]

Such, alas! is but too frequently the state of ungodly men—

[Many there are who violate habitually the dictates of their own conscience, till they “vex,” and “grieve the Holy Spirit,” and utterly “quench” his sacred motions. No wonder if at such times trouble come upon them: for indeed the whole creation are ready to “avenge the quarrel of God’s covenant,” whensoever he shall withdraw from us his protecting hand: and whatever our trials be, or from whatever quarter they come, they will be incomparably heavier, from the consciousness that “God himself is become our enemy.” Under their trials the most hardened of men will begin to relent, and will “pour out a prayer when God’s chastening is upon them” — — —”When God slays them, then they will seek him,” as the Psalmist says. But at such seasons they are often made to feel what “an evil and bitter thing it is to forsake the Lord.” They call upon God, but “he will not hear them, because their hands are full of sin [Note: Isaiah 1:15.]:” yea, he even “laughs at their calamity, and mocks when their fear cometh [Note: Proverbs 1:26-28.].” He has repeatedly declared, that thus he would treat all who should “set up idols in their hearts [Note: Ezekiel 14:1-7; Ezekiel 20:1-3 with Psalms 66:18.]:” and melancholy indeed is their state, who have no access to God in their troubles, nor any communications from him for their supports. Yet we can have but little acquaintance with the house of mourning, if we have not met with many such cases in the world.]

Such was the unhappy state of Saul. Let us next proceed to notice,

II. The expedient to which he resorted—

Now he wished for the counsel of that minister, whom when living he neglected and despised;—and,

To obtain an interview with Samuel, he had recourse to a witch—

[In former days Saul had exerted himself, agreeably to God’s command [Note: Leviticus 20:27.], to banish witchcraft from the land; and now could not prevail on this woman to use her enchantments, till he had profanely sworn that no punishment should be inflicted on her. At his earnest entreaty, she prevailed to bring up Samuel before him. Many learned men have thought that Samuel himself did not appear, but that Satan assumed his shape and garb. But there is no intimation in the history that this was the case; on the contrary, every expression has directly the opposite aspect: and it seems that even the witch herself was beyond measure astonished at the unexpected success of her incantation. It is urged on the other hand, that a witch could never prevail to bring Samuel from the grave, or his soul from the mansions of the blessed. True; but God might see fit to send Samuel on this occasion, to confirm all the threatenings which he had denounced when living: nor is there any weight in the objection, that he speaks of being “disquieted,” and “brought up,” because this was only popular language suited to the prevailing notions of the day: and when he speaks of Saul and his sons being “with him on the morrow,” he can only mean, that they should be removed into the invisible world by death — — — It seems clear, that, as God afterwards sent a living prophet to reprove Amaziah’s application to the heathen idol, so now he sent a departed prophet to reprove in Saul a similar offence [Note: Compare 2 Kings 1:1-6 where the cases, and the issue of them, are much alike.].

But what availed this interview with Samuel? Samuel himself put the question to Saul, “Wherefore dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?” Vain indeed was that hope which sought in a broken cistern what the fountain alone could supply.]

And equally vain are those refuges to which sinners flee, when they are forsaken by their God—

[Men in a time of trouble will catch at any thing for comfort. Some will endeavour to drown reflection in the cares or pleasures of the world; whilst others take refuge in infidelity: but not even Saul’s expedient was more vain than these: for what is there either in business or pleasure to satisfy a guilty conscience? or what can infidelity adduce to disprove the truths which it would set aside? “In uttering error against the Lord, we only make empty the soul of the hungry, and cause the drink of the thirsty to fail [Note: Isaiah 32:6.]” — — — Such are the expedients, whatever they may be, whereby we labour to supply the place of an offended God — — —]

From the close of the history we learn,

III. The misery he brought upon his own soul—

Great indeed were his disappointment and distress—

[Behold the melancholy train; dejection, desperation, suicide! He fainted and fell as soon as ever he heard the fate that awaited him: and was with great difficulty persuaded to take such refreshment as was necessary for his support. But no humiliation of soul did he manifest; nor, as far as we see, did he present to God one single petition. He sank down in sullen desperation, determining to meet his fate, but using no effort to obtain mercy at the hands of God. The battle terminated according to the word of Samuel; and Saul himself, to prevent the mortification of falling alive into the hands of his enemies, fell upon his own sword, and put a period to his own existence [Note: 1 Samuel 31:4.].]

But such are generally the effects of seeking in the creature what can be found in God alone—

[Many are oppressed with great dejection of mind: but if they would search out the causes of their trouble, they would find it generally to spring from lusts unmortified, and iniquities unrepented of. And how often does dejection lead to despair! Strange as it may seem, it is easier to abandon oneself to an hopeless despondency, than to renounce beloved sins, and persevere in an earnest inquiry after God. Yes; the heart, instead of relenting, is more generally “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin;” and when we begin to say, “There is no hope,” then we add, “I have loved idols, and after them will I go.” The close of all is, in too many cases, suicide: men finding no relief in God, fly to death itself as the only remedy for the troubles of life. Ah! unhappy men, who venture thus to rush into the presence of that God, who has hid his face from them!]

Let us learn then to beware,

1. Of impenitence in sin—

[Many who, like Saul, have been hopeful in their beginnings, fall from one sin to another, till they set both God and conscience at defiance. But however sweet sin may be in the mouth, it will prove as gall in the stomach. It will destroy all peace of mind, all hope in God, all prospect in eternity. O let it not be harboured in our hearts! Whatever our besetting sin be, let us never rest till we have repented of it, and washed it away in the Redeemer’s blood, and obtained the victory over it through the power and grace of God. If not purged out, it will defile and destroy our whole souls.]

2. Of seeking help in the creature—

[God is the only refuge of sinful man: wherever we may look, there is no help for us in any other. Not only are men and devils unable to assist us; even all the angels in heaven would be incapable of affording us any effectual help. Whatever creature we rest upon, it will prove only “as a broken reed, which will pierce the hand that rests upon it.” We must learn in every difficulty to say with Jehoshaphat, “Lord, I have no power against this great company that cometh against me, neither know I what to do; but mine eyes are upon Thee [Note: 2 Chronicles 20:12.].”]

3. Of giving way to despondency—

[To despair, is to seal our own condemnation. We must never conclude, that, because God has forsaken us, “he will be no more entreated.” Had Saul himself truly and unfeignedly implored mercy at his hands, God would not have utterly cast him off. “God never did, nor ever will, say to any, Seek ye my face in vain [Note: Judges 10:10-16.].”]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Samuel said to Saul; as the devil appeared in Samuel’s shape and garb, so also he speaketh in his person, that he might insnare Saul, and encourage others to seek to him in this wicked way. And God permits him to do so for Saul’s greater condemnation and punishment.

Neither by prophets, nor by dreams; he omitteth the Urim here, because he neither did nor could inquire by that, because Abiathar had carried it away to David, and so he expected no answer that way.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.Samuel said to Saul — Did, then, Samuel actually speak? We understand that as the witch did all the seeing for Saul, so also she did all the speaking to him. She was the medium both of sight and sound. The Septuagint version calls her a ventriloquist; and she may have caused her voice to sound from some dark corner, so that Saul and his attendants believed it to be the voice of Samuel. But it is not necessary to suppose this. Any one who sought unto the dead in this way, even though he saw and heard the necromancer utter the words with her own lips, if he believed that the communication came from the person sought, would naturally speak of it in this way. So when Saul’s servants afterwards reported this affair, they would naturally say, “Samuel said to Saul,” not “the woman said;” for though they may have known that the woman was the medium of the sound, they doubtless believed that the communication itself came from Samuel.

It should here be observed how perfectly noncommittal the sacred historian is in recording this mysterious transaction. He records the whole matter precisely as it was reported by the two eye-witnesses, and these witnesses reported it precisely as it appeared to them. They believed that Samuel had spoken to their king; but the sacred historian expresses no opinion in the case. He may have believed their report, as they did, but he does not say so. And it is noticeable that none of the sacred writers commit themselves to any explanation of the mysteries which they record. The magicians of Egypt are represented as working actual miracles in opposition to Moses; but no attempt is made to explain the nature of those miracles. So here the sacred writer records a mysterious event just as it was currently reported and believed, but attempts no explanation.

Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up — This utterance is unworthy of a holy prophet sent on a mission of God from heaven. He charges Saul with forcing him up from the grave against his will. The common interpretation affirms that Samuel rose from the dead by special permission and express command of God; but how absurd, in the light of Christian truth, to imagine the sainted Samuel coming thus from the world of spirits, and angrily complaining to Saul that he had disturbed him! Can it be aught but a pleasure for any of the saints in light to obey Jehovah’s orders? Or, if the order involve a painful duty, would it not be rebellion for the servant to complain? The words are rationally explicable only when regarded as a device of the witch to awe and terrify the soul of the king. They strongly savour of witchcraft.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Samuel 28:15. Why hast thou disquieted me? — “Houbigant observes very justly, that Samuel complains not of the woman, but of Saul, for disquieting him; from whence it follows that Samuel was not raised up by her magic arts, but by the will of God. Samuel’s disquiet plainly arose from Saul’s hardened impenitence. It was this that grieved and provoked him; and so it should be translated; Why hast thou provoked me, to make me rise up? Why dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee? But is it probable, say some, that God, who had refused to answer Saul by all the accustomed methods, would, as it were, submit himself to the superstition of this prince, and, to satisfy him, raise up Samuel to apprize him of his destiny? We answer, 1st, That Saul had not consulted God either by Urim or by prophets; for the Urim was with David; and there was probably no prophet then alive to whom God communicated himself either by vision or in any other way; and that in the methods he had employed he had conducted himself hypocritically and without any right impression of religion. 2d, We answer, that Saul, in danger, and anxious about the event of it, applies to a pythoness to assist him by her incantations, and to call up the spirit of Samuel; but before she begins one word of her spells or charms the prophet interposes, frightens her, and pronounces Saul’s doom; and she herself witnesses the truth of his appearance. If the thing is singular, if the event is extraordinary, it does not follow that it is false, much less that it is impossible. God is not so tied down to his own institutions that he cannot at any time depart from them. That God should manifest himself by his prophets, to encourage or countenance what he himself had forbidden, is indeed very unlikely, or, to speak more justly, very absurd to suppose. But that he should interpose to reprove that practice, which was the case at present, is doubtless no way incredible or improbable.” — Delaney and Dodd.

Saul answered and said, I am sore distressed, &c. — Finding that God would give no answer to him, and being almost in despair, he seems to have foolishly flattered himself that he might be able to obtain some answer to his petitions by means of that holy prophet, whom he knew to have had a sincere regard for him in his life-time. But the prophet, in his answer in the next verse, gives him to know how incapable he was of doing him any service, seeing that the Lord was departed from him and become his enemy. From hence we may see the vanity and absurdity of invoking saints, &c., as their intercession can no way avail us, when by our wickedness we have made God our enemy. One would think this reply of Samuel would be sufficient to convince any Christian of the folly of any such application. Therefore I have called thee, &c. — Happy had it been for him if he had called Samuel sooner, or, rather, the God of Samuel. It was now too late; destruction was at hand, and God had determined it should not be stayed.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Up. To inform a person of something very terrible, is distressing; and though the saints deceased cannot partake in the afflictions of mortals, yet we read that "the angels of peace will weep, but they will approve of the just sentence of the judge" against the reprobate. (Haydock) --- The Scripture language conforms itself to the opinions of the people, who thought that such avocations disturbed the soul's repose. Hence the fathers at [the Synod of] Elvira (Canon xxxi.) forbid "the lighting of wax candles in church-yards during the day, for the spirits of the saints are not to be disquieted." Isaias (xiv. 9,) represents hell all in commotion, at the approach of the king of Babylon. These expressions are figurative. (Calmet) --- God does not encourage magical arts, on this occasion, but rather prevents their operation, as he did, when Balaam would have used some superstitious practices, Numbers xxiv. (Du Hamel)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Samuel said: i.e. the spirit personating Samuel said. Just as it is done in the present day by the medium: never directly.

disquieted. If Samuel, then it shows he was "quiet" before.

me. Not my spirit.

God. Hebrew. Elohim. App-4.

no more. Therefore certainly not by means which He had expressly forbidden. See Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6, Leviticus 20:27. Deuteronomy 18:10, Deuteronomy 18:13, &c.

by prophets. Saul omits the reference to "Urim" because it would remind him of the murder of the priests (1 Samuel 22:18, 1 Samuel 22:19). See note on 1 Samuel 28:6.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?—Erd-manu, in Lange, argues from this that the incantation of the witch of En-dor had brought about the result, viz., the calling up of the shade of Samuel, and that hence the appearance of the prophet was not due to the command of God. Keil, however, rightly concludes that these words by themselves do not decide the question as to what power called up the “spirit.” They simply assert that Samuel had been disturbed from his rest by Saul, and ask the reason why. In the Babylonian Talmud there is a remarkable comment on these words of the shade of the departed prophet. “Rabbi Elazar said, when he read this Scripture text, ‘Why hast thou disquieted me?’ If Samuel the righteous was afraid of the Judgment (to which he thought he was summoned when thus called up), how much more ought we to be afraid of the Judgment? And whence do we infer that Samuel was afraid? Because it is written, ‘And the woman said unto Saul, I saw mighty ones [or perhaps judges]—Elohim—ascending out of the earth: olim, ascending (a plural form), implies at least two, and one of them was Samuel; who, then, was the other? Samuel went and brought Moses with him, and said unto him, ‘Peradventure I am summoned to Judgment-God forbid! O stand thou by me; lo! there is not a thing which is written in thy Law that I have not fulfilled.”—Treatise Chaggigah, fol. 4, b.

I am sore distressed.—“O, the wild wail of this dark misery! There is a deep pathos and a weird awesomeness in this despairing cry, but there is no confession of sin, no beseeching for mercy—nothing but the overmastering ambition to preserve himself.”—Dr. W. M. Taylor, of New York: “David.”

For the gallant warrior Saul thus to despair was indeed strange, but his gloomy foreboding before the fatal field of Gilboa, where he was to lose his crown and life, were sadly verified by the sequel. Shakespeare thus describes Richard III. heavy and spiritless, with an unknown dread, before the fatal Bosworth field:—

“I have not that alacrity of spirit

Nor cheer of mind that I was went to have.”

King Richard III.

So Macbeth is full of a restless, shapeless terror at Dunsinane before the battle:—

“There is no flying hence, no tarrying here;

I ‘gin to be aweary of the sun.”—Macbeth.

Neither by prophets, nor by dreams.—Why does Saul omit to mention here the silence of the “Urim,” especially mentioned in 1 Samuel 27:6, and which seems also in these days to have been the more usual way of enquiry after the will of the Eternal King; of Israel? The Talmud, treatise Berachoth, xii. 2, gives the probable answer. Saul knew the Urim was no longer in his kingdom. It had been worn by one whom he had foully murdered—Ahimelech, the high priest. Deep shame at the thought of the massacre of Ahimelech, and afterwards of the priests at Nob, stayed him from uttering the word “Urim” before Samuel.

Therefore I have called thee.—The Hebrew word here is a very unusual form, which apparently was used to strengthen the original idea, “I have had thee called “; in other words, “Hence this pressing urgent call to thee from thy rest.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou 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 answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
Why hast
I am sore
Proverbs 5:11-13; 14:14; Jeremiah 2:17,18
the Philistines
16:13,14; 18:12; Judges 16:20; Psalms 51:11; Hosea 9:12; Matthew 25:41
6; 23:2,4,9,10
Heb. the hand of prophets. therefore.
Luke 16:23-26
Reciprocal: Judges 10:9 - distressed;  1 Samuel 30:8 - he answered him;  1 Samuel 31:1 - the Philistines;  Psalm 27:3 - war;  Jeremiah 21:2 - Inquire;  Amos 8:11 - but;  Micah 3:7 - no;  2 Corinthians 4:8 - yet

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".