1 Samuel 28-31 & Psalm 18
In 1 Samuel 28, we read about the low point in Saul’s life. The Philistine army had gathered their forces to attack, and Saul was terrified. He wanted to know what to do, so he (finally) inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him. He had spent much of his life ignoring God, now it was God’s turn to ignore Saul.
Saul was so desperate to know what to do that he decided to seek out a medium to contact Samuel (who was already dead by this point). Saul knew this was wrong. In fact, in verse 3, we read that, “Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.” And now he inquired of one.
Because Saul was head and shoulders taller than everyone else, presumably, the medium knew that her disguised client was really Saul. She suspected it was a trap. Saul swore to her, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.” Saul invoked God’s name to protect her – in total hypocrisy and defiance against God.
Samuel appeared and told Saul, among other things, “The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.”
Here are my thoughts on what happened:
1. Through a direct reading of the passage, Samuel really truly did appear. It was Samuel, not the medium doing some mambo-jumbo “channeling” sleight of hand.
2. The medium was terrified by this, and didn’t at all expect this. (Hence her screaming.) I think she was expecting some hocus pocus as usual, and Samuel really showed up.
3. Samuel interacted directly with Saul, without “channeling” through the medium.
4. Samuel spoke the truth, referring to comments he had made to Saul in chapter 15 about God tearing the kingdom out of his hand.
5. I believe God raised Samuel temporarily from the dead specifically to condemn Saul. I question whether Satan has that kind of power, or if he did, that he would have used it to tell Saul the truth.
6. We know that Samuel was a righteous man, and Saul was a wicked man. When Samuel told Saul that Saul and his sons would be joining Samuel the next day, we can infer that Samuel wasn’t in heaven, because Saul wouldn’t be going to heaven, and that Samuel wasn’t burning in hell, since he was righteous. This re-affirms that Samuel was just dead in the ground, where Saul was going. (Daniel 12:2 reminds us where the dead are and what they are doing – asleep in the dust of the earth.)
In Chapter 31, we read that all of this came true the next day. The Israelite army was conquered, Saul’s three sons were killed, and Saul committed suicide.
According to 1 Samuel 28:18, all of this happened because Saul “did not obey the Lord.”
This highlights again how important it is for us to obey the Lord. We need to get into His word to understand what He requires. And then we need to just do it.
Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 121, 123-125 & 128-130 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan