1 Samuel 28

Listen to 1 Samuel 28

Saul and the Medium of En-dor

1 In those days 1the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. And Achish said to David, "Understand that you and your men are to go out with me in the army."
2 David said to Achish, "Very well, you shall know what your servant can do." And Achish said to David, "Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life."
3 Now 2Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him 3in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put 4the mediums and the necromancers out of the land.
4 The Philistines assembled and came and encamped 5at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped 6at Gilboa.
5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.
6 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, 7the LORD did not answer him, either 8by dreams, or 9by Urim, or by prophets.
7 Then Saul said to his servants, 10"Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "Behold, there is a medium at 11En-dor."
8 So Saul 12disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, 13"Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you."
9 The woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done, 14how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?"
10 But Saul swore to her by the LORD, 15"As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing."
11 Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" He said, "Bring up Samuel for me."
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul."
13 The king said to her, "Do not be afraid. What do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I see a god coming up out of the earth."
14 He said to her, "What is his appearance?" And she said, "An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped 16in a robe." And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.
15 Then Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" Saul answered, "I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and 17God has turned away from me and 18answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do."
16 And Samuel said, "Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy?
17 The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me, for 19the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David.
18 20Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day.
19 Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you 21and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines."
20 Then Saul fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.
21 And the woman came to Saul, and when she saw that he was terrified, she said to him, "Behold, your servant has obeyed you. 22I have taken my life in my hand and have listened to what you have said to me.
22 Now therefore, you also obey your servant. Let me set a morsel of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way."
23 He refused and said, "I will not eat." But his servants, together with the woman, urged him, and he listened to their words. So he arose from the earth and sat on the bed.
24 Now the woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly killed it, and she took flour and kneaded it and baked unleavened bread of it,
25 and she put it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night.

1 Samuel 28 Commentary

Chapter 28

Achish puts confidence in David, Saul's fear. (1-6) Saul consults a witch at Endor. (7-19) Saul's terror. (20-25)

Verses 1-6 David could not refuse Achish without danger. If he promised assistance, and then stood neuter, or went over to the Israelites, he would behave with ingratitude and treachery. If he fought against Israel, he would sin greatly. It seemed impossible that he should get out of this difficulty with a clear conscience; but his evasive answer, intended to gain time, was not consistent with the character of an Israelite indeed. Troubles are terrors to the children of disobedience. In his distress, Saul inquired of the Lord. He did not seek in faith, but with a double, unstable mind. Saul had put the law in force against those that had familiar spirits, ( Exodus 22:18 ) . Many seem zealous against, sin, when they are any way hurt by it, who have no concern for the glory of God, nor any dislike of sin as sin. Many seem enemies to sin in others, while they indulge it in themselves. Saul will drive the devil out of his kingdom, yet harbours him in his heart by envy and malice. How foolish to consult those whom, according to God's law, he had endeavoured to root out!

Verses 7-19 When we go from the plain path of duty, every thing draws us further aside, and increases our perplexity and temptation. Saul desires the woman to bring one from the dead, with whom he wished to speak; this was expressly forbidden, ( Deuteronomy 18:11 ) . All real or pretended witchcraft or conjuration, is a malicious or an ignorant attempt to gain knowledge or help from some creature, when it cannot be had from the Lord in the path of duty. While Samuel was living, we never read of Saul's going to advise with him in any difficulties; it had been well for him if he had. But now he is dead, "Bring me up Samuel." Many who despise and persecute God's saints and ministers when living, would be glad to have them again, when they are gone. The whole shows that it was no human fraud or trick. Though the woman could not cause Samuel's being sent, yet Saul's inquiry might be the occasion of it. The woman's surprise and terror proved that it was an unusual and unexpected appearance. Saul had despised Samuel's solemn warnings in his lifetime, yet now that he hoped, as in defiance of God, to obtain some counsel and encouragement from him, might not God permit the soul of his departed prophet to appear to Saul, to confirm his former sentence, and denounce his doom? The expression, "Thou and thy sons shall be with me," means no more than that they shall be in the eternal world. There appears much solemnity in God's permitting the soul of a departed prophet to come as a witness from heaven, to confirm the word he had spoken on earth.

Verses 20-25 Those that expect any good counsel or comfort, otherwise than from God, and in the way of his institutions, will be as wretchedly disappointed as Saul. Though terrified even to despair, he was not humbled. He confessed not his sins, offered no sacrifices, and presented no supplications. He does not seem to have cared about his sons or his people, or to have attempted any escape; but in sullen despair he rushed upon his doom. God sets up a few such beacons, to warn men not to stifle convictions, or despise his word. But while one repenting thought remains, let no sinner suppose himself in this case. Let him humble himself before God, determined to live and die beseeching his favour, and he will succeed.

Cross References 22

  • 1. [1 Samuel 29:1]
  • 2. 1 Samuel 25:1
  • 3. 1 Samuel 1:19
  • 4. [Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10, 11]
  • 5. Joshua 19:18
  • 6. 1 Samuel 31:1
  • 7. ver. 15; 1 Samuel 14:37
  • 8. Numbers 12:6
  • 9. [Exodus 28:30; Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8]
  • 10. [1 Chronicles 10:13]
  • 11. Joshua 17:11; Psalms 83:10
  • 12. 1 Kings 20:38; 1 Kings 22:30; 2 Chronicles 18:29; 2 Chronicles 35:22
  • 13. [Deuteronomy 18:10]
  • 14. [See ver. 3 above]
  • 15. See Ruth 3:13
  • 16. 1 Samuel 15:27
  • 17. 1 Samuel 16:14; 1 Samuel 18:12
  • 18. ver. 6
  • 19. 1 Samuel 15:28
  • 20. 1 Samuel 15:9
  • 21. 1 Samuel 31:2
  • 22. See Judges 12:3

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 28

The Philistines gathering together, to fight with Israel, Saul trembled at it, not being able to get any answer from the Lord about it in any way whatever, 1Sa 28:1-6; upon which he applies to a woman that had a familiar spirit to bring him up Samuel, which she did, 1Sa 28:7-14; and what passed between Saul and Samuel, or at least the apparition in his form, is recorded, 1Sa 28:15-19; which so struck him, as to make him strengthless, and so melancholy, that he refused to eat until persuaded, or rather compelled, by the woman and his servants, 1Sa 28:20-25.

1 Samuel 28 Commentaries