1 Samuel 28 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Saul was at the end of himself. He would literally be at the end of life within 24 hours.
This most bizarre and troubling story reveals how lost he was. After Samuel had died, and although Samuel had little to do with Saul the last years of his life, Saul had no guidance. God’s hand had been removed, His presence denied. Saul had become an adversary to God (Samuel’s own words) and as we have read, made it up as he went. This had cost him dearly.
- He had relentlessly pursued a man for no reason except jealousy.
- He had lost respect within the eyes of his troops and nation.
- He had the Philistines gathering to slaughter the Israelites and had no direction.
- He had consulted God and the Lord was silent.
In desperation, he sought out a witch, a medium, a spiritist to call to Samuel from the dead and seek counsel. It seems absurd, doesn’t it? But this was how desperate a man he was. And as Samuel returns for this brief conversation, the rebuke is swift and strong.
But there’s something missing here in this entire chapter.
- Nowhere does Saul admit his sin.
- Nowhere does he apologize or seek forgiveness.
“When God answered him not, if he had humbled himself by repentance and persevered in seeking God, who knows but that at length he might have been entreated for him. But since he can discern no comfort either from heaven or earth, he resolves to knock at the gates of hell.”Matthew Henry
The hardening of one’s heart is a slow dangerous process. The more we resist the Holy Spirit and His speaking to our hearts; the more we sideline advice given by Believers; the more we pursue our own path; destruction is sure to follow.
Saul’s end would be horrific. As the first king of Israel, he would go down as a man bent on his own ways who walked away from God and his legacy would forever be marred.
1 Samuel 28 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
I’ve always had lots of questions about 1 Samuel 28. Was David actually going to fight with the Philistines? Why did Saul think that he could contact Samuel through a witch? Was it even Samuel he saw?
It is a puzzling chapter. The irony of Saul’s life can be summarized by verse 10.
Then Saul made a sacred vow. “By the living LORD I promise that you will not be punished for doing this,” he told her.1 Samuel 28:10 GNB
Saul vowed by the living God in order to convince a witch to tell him the future. Unfortunately, this is what Saul did all throughout his life. He used God to get what he wanted. He didn’t operate with God as the Lord of his life, but rather, tacked on His Name when he needed something.
We may wonder if this was really Samuel, and if so, how was the witch able to conjure him up?
It seems best to follow the early view that this was a genuine appearance of Samuel which God Himself brought about. Several points favor this interpretation: (1) The medium was surprised (v. 1Sa 28:12). (2) Saul identified the figure as Samuel (v. 1Sa 28:14). (3) The message Samuel spoke was clearly from God (vv. 1Sa 28:16-19). (4) The text says that the figure was Samuel (vv. 1Sa 28:12, 1Sa 28:15-16). There is no inherent difficulty with God bringing back the spirit of Samuel from heaven and allowing him to appear to Saul, in spite of the woman’s evil profession.Nelson’s Commentary
This is what happens to our heart when we feed it jealousy instead of Jehovah. This is what happens when we trust in men instead of God. Saul chose to consult the dead and because of his disobedience, he would soon join them.
“While the king sat on that divan, what memories must have passed through his mind! The first happy days of his reign, Jabesh-gilead, the loyalty of his people. Then he saw how, step by step, that cursed jealousy of David had dragged him down into the turbid current that was now bearing him to a suicide’s end. It is one of the most pitiful spectacles in history. But let us be warned; let us watch and pray; let us guard against the first tiny rift within the lute of life!”F.B. Meyer