[1-Samuel 28:1] AND IT CAME TO PASS IN THOSE DAYS, THAT THE PHILISTINES
GATHERED THEIR ARMIES TOGETHER FOR WARFARE, TO FIGHT WITH ISRAEL. AND
ACHISH SAID UNTO DAVID, KNOW THOU ASSUREDLY, THAT THOU SHALT GO OUT
WITH ME TO BATTLE, THOU AND THY MEN.
[1-Samuel 28:2] AND DAVID SAID TO ACHISH, SURELY THOU SHALT KNOW WHAT
THY SERVANT CAN DO. AND ACHISH SAID TO DAVID, THEREFORE WILL I MAKE THEE
KEEPER OF MINE HEAD FOR EVER.
Achish made David his head body-guard. Monarchs often used foreigners
as their body-guards since they were less likely to be influenced by local
interests and plotting and would be dependent on the ruler just as
ruler was dependent on them.
[1-Samuel 28:3] NOW SAMUEL WAS DEAD, AND ALL ISRAEL HAD LAMENTED HIM,
AND BURIED HIM IN RAMAH, EVEN IN HIS OWN CITY. AND SAUL HAD PUT AWAY
THAT HAD FAMILIAR SPIRITS, AND THE WIZARDS, OUT OF THE LAND.
This verse serves as an introduction for the following evens. Samuel
was dead. Samuel had served as an intermediary between the needs of the
Kingdom and heaven, i.e. between this world and the next. We have noted several
times the deep mutual rapport between Saul and Samuel . Saul was a
"creation" of Samuel and Samuel never forgot it even when Saul departed
from the right path. So too, when a person is undergoing a severely
traumatic personal crisis his/her instinct is to seek guidance or
solace from a parent figure especially one who was instrumental at an
junction in life. Saul was about to feel the need of Samuel but Samuel
was dead. In desperation Saul was about to seek to communicate with
by means of spiritualist forces.
Saul however had eliminated the witch-doctors etc who had claimed to
supply a means of communicating with spiritual forces. Similarly Moses
had served as an intermediary between God and Israel. When the people
mistakenly thought that Moses was dead or had permanently disappeared
they created the golden calf. The original intention behind the golden calf
had not been something to worship instead of God but rather as a substitute
for Moses who had determined the will of heaven and lead them until
through the wilderness (Exodus 32:1-6). This in itself was considered
idolatry and after the calf was made the people worshipped it in an
Nowadays some people go to spiritualists seances and experience
"supernatural" revelations. This is forbidden.
"AND YE SHALL BE HOLY UNTO ME: FOR I THE LORD AM HOLY, AND HAVE SEVERED
YOU FROM OTHER PEOPLE, THAT YE SHOULD BE MINE [Leviticus
"A MAN ALSO OR WOMAN THAT HATH A FAMILIAR SPIRIT, OR THAT IS A WIZARD,
SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH: THEY SHALL STONE THEM WITH STONES: THEIR
BLOOD SHALL BE UPON THEM [Leviticus 20:27].
Apart from the fact that spiritualism is forbidden there are all
kinds of stories of real revelations taking place in seances. These can be
attributed to the forces of darkness or what not and also to the
"psychic" powers of those participating. We have many abilities we
conscious of and influence our surrounding in ways we are not aware of.
the explanation the Biblical way is to keep away from these matters
"WHEN THOU ART COME INTO THE LAND WHICH THE LORD THY GOD GIVETH THEE,
SHALT NOT LEARN TO DO AFTER THE ABOMINATIONS OF THOSE NATIONS.
"THERE SHALL NOT BE FOUND AMONG YOU ANY ONE THAT MAKETH HIS SON OR HIS
DAUGHTER TO PASS THROUGH THE FIRE, OR THAT USETH DIVINATION, OR AN
OBSERVER OF TIMES, OR AN ENCHANTER, OR A WITCH. [Deuteronomy 18:10]
"OR A CHARMER, OR A CONSULTER WITH FAMILIAR SPIRITS, OR A WIZARD, OR A
NECROMANCER. [Deuteronomy 18:11]
"FOR ALL THAT DO THESE THINGS ARE AN ABOMINATION UNTO THE LORD: AND
BECAUSE OF THESE ABOMINATIONS THE LORD THY GOD DOTH DRIVE THEM OUT
THEE. [Deuteronomy 18:12]
"THOU SHALT BE PERFECT WITH THE LORD THY GOD. [Deuteronomy 18:13]
"PERFECT" Hebrew "tamim" which also connotes "innocent", "simple",
"straightforward", "honest". We are required to trust in the Almighty
in good faith.
On the subject of spiritualism etc it is worth noting that there are no
real vacuums in life. Now and again I have come across people who have
purported to take a super-rationalist "scientific" approach to
existence. These people are often relievedly well-educated and the
instinctive reaction is to try and talk to them about higher matters in
rational scientific terms. This can be a mistake. When you get closer
to these types one not infrequently finds that their real beliefs often
verge on the ridiculous. They themselves are what they purport to reject
[1-Samuel 28:4] AND THE PHILISTINES GATHERED THEMSELVES TOGETHER,
CAME AND PITCHED IN SHUNEM: AND SAUL GATHERED ALL ISRAEL TOGETHER,
AND THEY PITCHED IN GILBOA.
[1-Samuel 28:5] AND WHEN SAUL SAW THE HOST OF THE PHILISTINES, HE
AFRAID, AND HIS HEART GREATLY TREMBLED.
[1-Samuel 28:6] AND WHEN SAUL ENQUIRED OF THE LORD, THE LORD ANSWERED
HIM NOT, NEITHER BY DREAMS, NOR BY URIM, NOR BY PROPHETS.
[1-Samuel 28:7] THEN SAID SAUL UNTO HIS SERVANTS, SEEK ME A WOMAN THAT
HATH A FAMILIAR SPIRIT, THAT I MAY GO TO HER, AND ENQUIRE OF HER. AND
SERVANTS SAID TO HIM, BEHOLD, THERE IS A WOMAN THAT HATH A FAMILIAR
SPIRIT AT ENDOR.
"THAT HATH A FAMILIAR SPIRIT": Hebrew "Baalath Ob" or Mistress of the
Ob. The word "Ob" is also said to be retained in the West Indies with
the witchcraft cult of "Ob" or "Obeah". They say they took it from
The attitude of many of those who rely over duly on
psychological, Sociological, and psychiatric approaches appears
to be not dissimilar to witchcraft. Jung and Freud in many ways
no better than witch doctors. I once read a work by a popular writer
Psychology (Eysynck?) in which he claimed that the proportion of people
suffering from mental disturbance cured by the "experts" was no greater
than those who would have recovered on their own.
This is an exaggeration.
Someone in help should seek it.
People who are sick in any way need to be cured and often just the
involvement of another party especially one appointed to the task can
be sufficient in itself. e.g.
"AND SHALL CAUSE HIM TO BE THOROUGHLY HEALED" (Exodus 21:19).
The Commentators on this section provide us with numerous
and profound observations. We have decided however in this case to keep our
explanation as simple as possible and in accordance with the literal
account at its basic level. Saul was afraid. Not necessarily for
himself but rather for the whole people of Israel who were fighting for their
lives, their belief, and their families. He was responsible for them
and in desperation. In WW2 both the Allies and the "Axis" had recourse to
astrologers, psychics, and whoever could be of possible assistance.
Even now police officials sometimes consult with such "experts" usually
without results but under pressure a person will do anything.
[1-Samuel 28:8] AND SAUL DISGUISED HIMSELF, AND PUT ON OTHER RAIMENT,
AND HE WENT, AND TWO MEN WITH HIM, AND THEY CAME TO THE WOMAN BY NIGHT:
AND HE SAID, I PRAY THEE, DIVINE UNTO ME BY THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT, AND BRING
HIM UP, WHOM I SHALL NAME UNTO THEE.
[1-Samuel 28:9] AND THE WOMAN SAID UNTO HIM, BEHOLD, THOU KNOWEST WHAT
SAUL HATH DONE, HOW HE HATH CUT OFF THOSE THAT HAVE FAMILIAR SPIRITS, AND
WIZARDS, OUT OF THE LAND: WHEREFORE THEN LAYEST THOU A SNARE FOR MY
LIFE, TO CAUSE ME TO DIE?
We only know that Saul had endeavored to remove witchcraft and the
like because the knowledge is needed to understand the events recounted here.
[1-Samuel 28:10] AND SAUL SWARE TO HER BY THE LORD, SAYING, AS THE LORD
LIVETH, THERE SHALL NO PUNISHMENT HAPPEN TO THEE FOR THIS
[1-Samuel 28:11] THEN SAID THE WOMAN, WHOM SHALL I BRING UP UNTO THEE?
AND HE SAID, BRING ME UP SAMUEL.
[1-Samuel 28:12] AND WHEN THE WOMAN SAW SAMUEL, SHE CRIED WITH A LOUD
VOICE: AND THE WOMAN SPAKE TO SAUL, SAYING, WHY HAST THOU DECEIVED
FOR THOU ART SAUL.
The impression at the simple level is that the woman intended to raise
a spirit who would imitate Samuel, or to pretend to raise a spirit and
imitate Samuel herself. Instead a real being from the Other Side came
up and the sorceress was probably more frightened than anyone else.
other half expected a spiritual apparition. She did not, at least not of
a nature. At this moment she realized that her visitor was Saul.
Something in the approach of Samuel from the other world told her this.
not know it was Samuel at this stage. It was Saul who knew who
[1-Samuel 28:13] AND THE KING SAID UNTO HER, BE NOT AFRAID: FOR WHAT
SAWEST THOU? AND THE WOMAN SAID UNTO SAUL, I SAW GODS ASCENDING OUT
" GODS": Hebrew "Elohim" which can also means "judges" or "mighty men",
"doers of judgement", or "spiritual being (s)".
[1-Samuel 28:14] AND HE SAID UNTO HER, WHAT FORM IS HE OF? AND SHE
SAID, AN OLD MAN COMETH UP; AND HE IS COVERED WITH A MANTLE. AND SAUL PERCEIVED
THAT IT WAS SAMUEL, AND HE STOOPED WITH HIS FACE TO THE GROUND, AND
[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
MORE, NEITHER BY PROPHETS, NOR BY DREAMS: THEREFORE I HAVE CALLED THEE,
THAT THOU MAYEST MAKE KNOWN UNTO ME WHAT I SHALL DO.
[1-Samuel 28:16] THEN SAID SAMUEL, WHEREFORE THEN DOST THOU ASK OF ME,
SEEING THE LORD IS DEPARTED FROM THEE, AND IS BECOME THINE ENEMY?
<< THINE ENEMY>>: Hebrew: "Arecha" connoting
[1-Samuel 28:17] AND THE LORD HATH DONE TO HIM, AS HE SPAKE BY ME: FOR
THE LORD HATH RENT THE KINGDOM OUT OF THINE HAND, AND GIVEN IT TO THY
NEIGHBOUR, EVEN TO DAVID:
[1-Samuel 28:18] BECAUSE THOU OBEYEDST NOT THE VOICE OF THE LORD, NOR
EXECUTEDST HIS FIERCE WRATH UPON AMALEK, THEREFORE HATH THE LORD DONE
THIS THING UNTO THEE THIS DAY.
[1-Samuel 28:19] MOREOVER THE LORD WILL ALSO DELIVER ISRAEL WITH THEE
INTO THE HAND OF THE PHILISTINES: AND TO MORROW SHALT THOU AND THY
WITH ME: THE LORD ALSO SHALL DELIVER THE HOST OF ISRAEL INTO THE HAND OF
"BE WITH ME": In the Next World. Saul and his sons would be with Samuel.
The sages understood from this that in the eyes of Heaven Sault would
die the death of the righteous. The sages also pointed out that
light of what Samuel had told him Sault could have taken himself and his
and attempted to flee and avert his prophesied doom. He did not but rather
went out with his sons to meet a certain death and he did this on behalf
the People of Israel.
[1-Samuel 28:20] THEN SAUL FELL STRAIGHTWAY ALL ALONG ON THE EARTH, AND
WAS SORE AFRAID, BECAUSE OF THE WORDS OF SAMUEL: AND THERE WAS NO STRENGTH
IN HIM; FOR HE HAD EATEN NO BREAD ALL THE DAY, NOR ALL THE NIGHT.
[1-Samuel 28:21] AND THE WOMAN CAME UNTO SAUL, AND SAW THAT HE WAS SORE
TROUBLED, AND SAID UNTO HIM, BEHOLD, THINE HANDMAID HATH OBEYED THY
VOICE, AND I HAVE PUT MY LIFE IN MY HAND, AND HAVE HEARKENED UNTO THY WORDS
WHICH THOU SPAKEST UNTO ME.
[1-Samuel 28:22] NOW THEREFORE, I PRAY THEE, HEARKEN THOU ALSO UNTO THE
VOICE OF THINE HANDMAID, AND LET ME SET A MORSEL OF BREAD BEFORE THEE;
AND EAT, THAT THOU MAYEST HAVE STRENGTH, WHEN THOU GOEST ON THY WAY.
This woman was a kind of witch and a practitioner of forbidden arts.
Even so we see here that she was also sympathetic and seems to be genuinely
concerned for the well being of the King beyond the natural fear of
authority. We can see from this that just because someone is basically
a "nice" person does not mean that they are righteous. The opposite also
holds, righteous people can be nasty. In both cases however we are
dealing with exceptions. Good people will tend to be good all round and the
[1-Samuel 28:23] BUT HE REFUSED, AND SAID, I WILL NOT EAT. BUT HIS
SERVANTS, TOGETHER WITH THE WOMAN, COMPELLED HIM; AND HE HEARKENED
UNTO THEIR VOICE. SO HE AROSE FROM THE EARTH, AND SAT UPON THE BED.
[1-Samuel 28:24] AND THE WOMAN HAD A FAT CALF IN THE HOUSE; AND SHE
HASTED, AND KILLED IT, AND TOOK FLOUR, AND KNEADED IT, AND DID BAKE
[1-Samuel 28:25] AND SHE BROUGHT IT BEFORE SAUL, AND BEFORE HIS
SERVANTS; AND THEY DID EAT. THEN THEY ROSE UP, AND WENT AWAY THAT NIGHT.
"And I will bless them that bless you" (Genesis 12:15).