Inquiring of God – Too Late

1 Samuel 28-31 & Psalm 18

1 Samuel 28 15 NIV

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.


–Steve Mattison
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+28-31%2C+Psalm+18&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 121, 123-125 & 128-130 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Becoming a People after God’s Own Heart

1 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11 & 59

Psalm 11 1 7 NIV

Today’s reading, found in 1 Samuel chapters 18 through 20, highlights how far Saul has fallen from his successes of chapter 14.  (Remember from chapter 15, that Saul had deliberately disobeyed a direct command from God, and things have been going from bad to worse for him since.

In 18:10-11, we read, “The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman.  David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall.  But David escaped him twice.”

Once Saul decided to abandon God, God not only abandoned Saul, God tormented Saul.  This should be a lesson to us – never disobey God – there are always negative consequences.

Saul became jealous of David, after David had killed Goliath, because the women of Israel sang this song, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”  As a result of his jealousy, Saul tried to kill David with his spear in 18:11 and again in 19:10. Saul also tried to kill David by having the Philistines kill him in 18:17, 21, 25.   In 19:1, Saul urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. In 19:15, Saul ordered his men to bring David (and his bed) to Saul to be killed, when Saul thought David was sick in bed.  In 19:20, 21 and 22 Saul unsuccessfully sent troops to get David three times.

In 20:30, Saul boiled with rage at his own son, Jonathan, who was friends with David, and in 20:33, Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him.

So much for Saul, what about David?

If you were David, how would you react?  What would you do?

Remember that Samuel had anointed David in chapter 16, and declared that David would be the next king over Israel.  So what did David do? He wrote some songs about this. Let’s see what he said in those songs…

David wrote Psalm 59 when Saul sent his soldiers to watch David’s house in order to kill him.  This psalm starts out, “Rescue me from my enemies, O God. Protect me from those who have come to destroy me.  Rescue me from these criminals; save me from these murderers. They have set an ambush for me…”. This makes sense.  David was in trouble, so he cried out to God for help. David continues in verse 9, “You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress.”

Then an astounding thing happens.  David starts praising God – in advance of God’s rescuing him.  Psalm 59 ends with, “But as for me, I will sing about your power.  Each morning, I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.  O my strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.”

David, the man after God’s own heart was actually praising God when he was literally afraid for his life.  This shows his great faith that God will indeed rescue him. Maybe this is one of the reasons he was called a “man after God’s own heart.”

Psalm 11, the other chapter from today’s reading also shows David’s faith through difficulty.  It starts out, “I trust in the Lord for protection…”, and ends with “For the righteous Lord loves justice.  The virtuous will see his face.”

I believe David’s response is a good example for us.  When times are tough, it’s natural to cry out to God for help.  We need to move on from just asking for help, and follow David’s example to also have faith and praise God, even before the answer comes.  And in the process, we, too, may become people after God’s own heart.

–Steve Mattison
And, of course – it’s a great day to celebrate a risen Savior (as is everyday) so enjoy some time reading from the gospels as well.  Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and/or John 20-21 provide some exciting reading for the day.  He is Risen!
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1st Samuel 21-24 as we continue our journey into God’s Word on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Waiting on God

1st Samuel 13-14

1 Samuel 14 37 b NIV

What do you do when you think God is taking too long to answer your prayer?

If you are King Saul, you tell the priest to “withdraw your hand” (1 Sam 13:19) – meaning that God is taking too much time responding to a prayer request. King Saul believed that he had some sort of advantage over the enemy and didn’t want that advantage to slip away. So he took matters into his own hands, assembled his men, and went into battle. The outcome wasn’t too good.
Have you ever prayed for something so long, that you become impatient waiting for God to give you directions and end up rushing the timeline just to pursue your own desires, wishes, or dreams? Any time we read a Bible study about an individual doing something for him/herself rather than waiting on God, it never ends well; it’s always a disaster.  Why do you think that is?
After some careful self-reflection, I think that I’ve got it figured out for myself: It’s because I like being in charge – to be independent – to not have to rely on someone else’s timing. And even as I type these words, I know it’s ludicrous because my decisions are based on a very limited perspective; whereas, God has a completely different view of my life. His reasons for delaying an answer to prayer, is all about the timing that will give him the most credit.
So the next time you are tempted to move on without God’s response to your prayers, just remember that Saul  ended up making some outlandish ultimatums and in so doing, ended up discrediting himself and losing God’s favor.
Stay persistent in your prayers. Do not give up. Keep waiting for an answer to your prayers. At the proper time, God will provide an answer or solution for your need. And in the meantime, always remember that God is by your side – he has not abandoned you.
Bethany Ligon
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+13-14&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1st Samuel 15-17 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan .
It’s also a great time to read from the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) as we reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice….and wait on God…for the resurrection.