As we forge ahead in chapter 28, Saul has gone from bad to worse. Samuel has died. His madness and jealousy of David (in spite of knowing God was on David’s side) drove him to kill all the priests and women and children at Nob (1 Samuel 22:16-21), and Abiathar has fled to be with David. Now the Philistines threaten to split the kingdom in two, and he has cut himself off from God. So he decides to consult a medium – expressly forbidden in Leviticus 19:31 and elsewhere.
At Endor, he tells the medium to he wants to talk to Samuel. We are not told that it is actually Samuel who does appear, but he speaks of the Lord and of Saul as Samuel would. The surprise and shriek from the woman could indicate that God just allowed it. There is much we do not know about demons in the Bible and of this type of thing that the it strictly warns us from. But whatever the case, the news is not good for Saul, as he is told that he and his sons would all die the next day.
Having fasted (probably for this event), the news is the last straw for the weak Samuel. He finally consents to eat somethings at the urging of his servants – with the medium! No man who thought himself righteous would eat in such company under any circumstances in that land and time.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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