1 Samuel 28 Commentary: Saul’s Turn to the Witch of Endor

1 Samuel 28 Commentary

This chapter explores the intriguing yet troubling episode where King Saul, Israel’s first monarch, seeks guidance from a source condemned by his own laws: a witch, known as the witch of Endor.

The narrative captures a moment of intense spiritual crisis, showcasing Saul’s drastic shift from divine reliance to seeking answers in the realm of the occult and throws light on the broader themes of obedience, divine communication, and the consequences of straying from God’s path.

What is 1 Samuel chapter 28 about? 1 Samuel Chapter 28 describes King Saul’s consultation with the witch of Endor to summon the spirit of the deceased prophet Samuel, highlighting Saul’s violation of divine law, and the foretelling of both his kingdom’s end and his own demise.

1 Samuel 28:1-2, Philistines Prepare for Battle, David’s Position with Achish

As the Philistines prepared for war against Israel, David, who had been living among the Philistines to escape King Saul’s wrath, faced a conflicting situation. Achish, the Philistine king, assumed David had completely severed his loyalty to Israel and expected him to join them in battle. This assumption placed David in a precarious position.

In those days the 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.” 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.”

1 Samuel 28:1-2, ESV

The irony here is profound: David, Israel’s anointed future king, is expected to fight against his own people. His alliance with Achish is a strategic move for survival, but it also reflects the complex political and personal dynamics David navigates during his time of exile.

1 Samuel 28:3-6, Saul’s Distress and God’s Silence

King Saul, facing the threat of the Philistine army, desperately sought divine guidance. However, with the prophet Samuel dead and God no longer speaking to Saul through dreams, Urim (a priestly tool for divination), or prophets, he found himself in a state of despair.

Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.

1 Samuel 28:3-6, ESV

This passage highlights Saul’s isolation and the consequences of his earlier disobedience to God. His separation from God’s guidance is a critical turning point, emphasizing how Saul’s reign has deteriorated and how reliant he once was on Samuel’s counsel.

What is Saul’s sin?

What is Saul’s sin? Saul’s sin includes his disobedience to God’s commandments by consulting a necromancer (the witch of Endor) to seek guidance, reflecting his spiritual decline and estrangement from God.

Why does Saul lose God’s favor? Saul loses God’s favor due to a series of disobedient acts, including unlawful sacrifices, failing to completely destroy Amalek as commanded, and ultimately seeking guidance from a necromancer – all demonstrating a consistent disregard for God’s instructions.

1 Samuel 28:7-14, Saul Consults the Witch of Endor

In an act of desperation, Saul seeks out a medium at Endor, hoping to communicate with the deceased Samuel. This action was not only against God’s law but also marked a significant departure from Saul’s earlier adherence to God’s commands.

Then Saul said to his servants, “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 En-dor.”

So Saul disguised 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, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.”

1 Samuel 28:7-8, ESV

When the medium successfully conjures up Samuel’s spirit, the scene is both eerie and tragic. It underscores Saul’s fall from grace and his dire need for guidance in a time of crisis.

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.” He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.

1 Samuel 28:13-14, ESV

This episode is a powerful illustration of Saul’s spiritual decline. His recourse to necromancy, an act he had previously condemned, reveals the depths of his despair and the extent of his estrangement from God.

What does Endor mean in the Bible?

What does Endor mean in the Bible? “Endor” in the Bible, derived from Hebrew origins, is thought to mean “fountain of dwelling,” reflecting its role as a physical location rather than having a symbolic or metaphorical meaning in the biblical narrative. This village is where King Saul consulted the witch, and is known for its association with the biblical event of necromancy and indicative of Saul’s desperation and disobedience to God’s laws.

Who Was the Witch of Endor?

Who was the witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28? The witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28 was a woman consulted by King Saul, known for her ability to communicate with the dead, in direct violation of Israelite law.

Why did Saul seek a witch? Saul sought a witch to summon the deceased prophet Samuel’s spirit for guidance, as God had ceased to communicate with him through conventional means.

What is necromancer in the Bible? In the Bible, a necromancer is someone believed to communicate with the dead, typically forbidden under Mosaic law due to its association with pagan practices and disobedience to God.

What is the significance of Endor? The significance of Endor lies in it being the location where King Saul sought the witch’s help, highlighting his desperation and spiritual decline.

What’s the name of the witch in the Bible? The witch in the Bible, specifically the witch of Endor, is not given a name, aligning with the biblical tendency to focus on her actions rather than her identity.

1 Samuel 28:15-19, Samuel’s Prophecy of Doom to Saul

In a dramatic and foreboding exchange, the spirit of Samuel prophesies the defeat of Israel and Saul’s impending death. This prophecy reaffirms that the kingdom will be given to David due to Saul’s disobedience.

And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David.

1 Samuel 28:16-17, ESV

Samuel’s prophecy is a sobering reminder of the consequences of disobeying God. It crystallizes the tragic trajectory of Saul’s reign and the inevitability of his downfall, which had been set in motion by his earlier actions.

What is the meaning of 1 Samuel 28:15?

What is the meaning of 1 Samuel 28:15? 1 Samuel 28:15, where Samuel’s spirit expresses dismay at being disturbed by Saul, underscores the severity of Saul’s desperation and God’s abandonment, highlighting his spiritual downfall and the gravity of seeking forbidden guidance.

1 Samuel 28:20-25, Saul’s Despair and the Witch’s Hospitality

After hearing the prophecy, Saul is overcome with fear and physical weakness. In this moment of vulnerability, the witch of Endor shows him unexpected kindness, preparing a meal for him and his men.

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.

1 Samuel 28:20, ESV

This act of hospitality from the witch contrasts sharply with Saul’s own actions and character at this point in his life. It provides a human touch in the midst of Saul’s spiritual and moral collapse.

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. 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, and she put it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night.

1 Samuel 28:23-25, ESV

The chapter concludes with Saul, once a powerful king, now reduced to a state of despair and relying on the kindness of a woman he would have previously condemned. This scene poignantly captures Saul’s tragic end and his complete alienation from God.

The Relevance of 1 Samuel 28 in Today’s World

The story of 1 Samuel 28 has enduring relevance in today’s world.

Its themes of desperation, faith, and the consequences of our actions speak deeply to contemporary societal issues.

The Search for Quick Fixes

The story of Saul’s desperation and his decision to consult a medium is a cautionary tale about the dangers of seeking quick fixes to our problems.

In today’s world, where the pressure to succeed and achieve instant gratification is high, many individuals are prone to making rash decisions that can have lasting negative consequences.

The story of Saul reminds us that there are no easy solutions and that we must take responsibility for our decisions.

The Importance of Faith

Another theme of 1 Samuel 28 is faith.

Saul’s lack of faith in God and his decision to consult a medium rather than seeking guidance from the Lord ultimately led to his downfall.

In today’s fast-paced, secular world, it can be challenging to maintain one’s faith and trust in a higher power. The story of Saul underscores the importance of faith and the need for individuals to be steadfast in their beliefs.

The Consequences of Our Actions

The story of 1 Samuel 28 is also a sobering reminder of the consequences of our actions. Saul’s decision to consult a medium led not only to his own demise but also to the deaths of his sons and many other Israelites.

In today’s world, where the impact of our choices can be far-reaching, it is essential to consider the consequences of our actions before making decisions.

The story of 1 Samuel 28 is a powerful narrative that continues to hold relevance and significance in our modern world. Its themes of desperation, faith, and consequences offer valuable insights and guidance for individuals navigating the complexities of life.