“And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’ And his servants said to him, ‘In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor.’” 1 Samuel 28:6–7
Saul is desperate. The Philistines kings have gathered themselves into a massive army and Saul is afraid.
In the past he would have consulted with Samuel, but Samuel has died. In his place Saul called for a priest to make inquiry for him, but God has not answered.
Saul has spent his reign primarily pursuing his own goals and ambitions. He’s made a pretense of loyalty to God, offering sacrifices and prayers, obeying the ceremonial and health laws, persecuting idolators and spiritualists, etc. but all of this has been a smoke screen hiding a disobedient heart bent of its own ambition and glory.
Even now Saul isn’t repentant or submitted. He’s unsure of himself as he faces the Philistine forces. He’s afraid of defeat, of losing all he’s worked for, of dying.
God won’t answer but maybe he can get an answer another way. He’ll go to a spirit medium and in a seance have her being up Samuel.
His servants find one not far away in En Dor, and, in disguise, Saul goes and asks her to bring Samuel. The witch does as she’s asked and they are joined by a spirit, they believe to be Samuel, who rebukes Saul for his disobedience and tells him that Israel will be defeated and he and his sons will die.
Some have wondered how this demon, disguised to look like Samuel, could know so precisely what would happen. Friends, sometimes it doesn’t take supernatural power to see how things are going to work out. The Philistine forces were too strong, God was not with them, Saul and his sons were not going to run away; add all that together and you get a clear picture of Israel’s defeat and Saul’s death.
What saddens me most is that Saul, even though he obviously knew how things were going to end up still pursued a path of selfish disobedience rather than repentance and submission.
Saul’s life stands as a warning to all of us regarding the danger of each day choosing to live for self instead of for God. There will come a time when all is on the line and it’s either rely on God and accept his will, even though it’s completely different than what we’d chose for ourselves, or die, and the momentum of all the habits forged by all the decisions we’ve made will push us to once again choose disobedience rather than God.
That’s why today is the day of salvation. It will never be easier than right now to choose to submit to God and begin a life of obedience to him. Every day delayed only strengthens the impulse to choose to disobey and live for self. Saul chose defeat instead of God. We can make a different choice today.