Call to Worship November 7 2021

Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 28

Remember, Samuel was dead and Saul had decreed the removal of any spiritists from Israel (3). Now, the Philistines and Saul gathered for war. The site of their army brought fear to the heart of Saul. He recognized their military movement threatened the economic life of Israel.[1] His heart was so troubled by the camp of the Philistines he did something somewhat unusual since the time of his rebellious act. Scripture tells that Samuel had parted ways with Saul after Saul’s disobedience regarding God’s command to destroy Amalek. Samuel would not go to “see Saul again till the day of his death (15:34-35).” Samuel no longer inquired of the LORD for Saul. Saul had not generally called upon God during the rest of his reign (I Chronicles 10:14).[2] Then Saul “inquired of the LORD,” for the first time in years (14:37), but He did not answer (28:6).   

The silence of God left Saul to his own devices to seek a word of foretelling. He asked his men to dial 1-800-Medium. Strangely, they needed no such assistance. They knew exactly where to go for this particular kind of help (28:7). Sinfully, Saul went against God’s word and his own decree (Lev. 20:6, Deut. 18:9-22, Isa. 8:19-20, 1 Sam. 28:3). In disguise and by night, he skirted around the camp of the Philistines to consult with Samuel by means of sinful divination.[3] The female diviner was concerned by Saul’s request and more astonished at who was making the request. He squelched her concerns by giving oath to her safety through the life of the LORD. Wow, he swore an oath by the God who would not answer his inquiry, to a person whom he asked to blatantly defy God’s command. As Davis sarcastically quipped, “For all of his degeneration Saul is orthodox to the last.”[4] Spiraling sinfulness always leads to irrational thinking and sinful behavior.   

The woman believed his oath and called up Samuel, per his request. God intervened and sent the “glorified spirit” of Samuel to further reveal God’s condemnation of Saul.[5] Samuel had no new word regarding the kingdom. He only questioned Saul’s actions and reminded him of God’s long standing denunciation of his rebellion. The verdict was the same from Samuel as many years ago at Gilgal (15:21-35). The kingdom was to be torn from his lineage and given to the house of David. Samuel’s only new information concerned the death of Saul and his sons during the coming battle (28:11-20). Saul wanted a word of foretelling and he received that and no more. God spoke, and now Saul was sullen in silence.    

We have witnessed in scripture the rebellious choices and unraveling life of a king. Although chosen by God, he did not listen and heed God’s command against Amalek. Instead of communing with God by obedience to Him, he feared the people and the loss of popularity and power more than the LORD Almighty. Both the people and power became idols to Saul, which meant those were the sins of divination. Diviners supposedly bring foretelling for advice and future decisions. Saul made the will of the people and his longing to stay in power his mediums of advice. Those two voices directed his choices and actions in life, even when they directly spoke against God’s explicit command. His power became more precious than serving and communing with the God who created him and chose him.

Saul spent many years of his life and reign leaning on his own understanding. He only wanted to hear from Samuel on that last day for information about what to do. He was not repentantly seeking the LORD for genuine communion in His precepts.[6] He was seeking a word for present relief and a change in God. He desired for a relaxing and relenting of God’s commands and judgements. He came in desire of continued power, not in repentance before the one who has ultimate power over the body and soul. What idols have become our sins of divination? May we seek to find the controlling voices of our minds that lead us to go against God’s word. May we seek to put them to death by repenting faith in the person and work of Christ Jesus. He alone has endured the forsaking silent wrath of God, on behalf of His people, through His death on the cross. Soli Deo Gloria!

[1] Dale Ralph Davis, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart, (Christian Focus Pub., 2014.), pg. 290.

[2] Gordon Keddie, Dawn of a Kingdom: The Message of I Samuel, Welwyn Commentary Series, (England, Evangelical Press, 1988.), 149 & 271. Keddie helps to clarify the issue of an apparent contradiction in two references. First, I Sam. 15 is clear enough that Samuel and Saul parted ways, yet Saul does go to find David in Naioth of Ramah with Samuel in Ch. 19. Keddie states the issue is one of difference regarding not Samuel ever seeing Saul until his day of death, but Samuel seeking out Saul or going to him. Second is the difference in wording between I Sam. 28:6 and I Chron. 10:14. There is a general sense of Saul’s life in which he did not seek God, but came to do so at this time on what would be his last day.

[3] Davis, pg. 296.

[4] Ibid., 291.

[5] Keddie, pg. 272.

[6] Davis, pg. 297.