1 Samuel 28 (New International Version)
Saul and the Witch of Endor
1 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army.”
2 David said, “Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.”
Achish replied, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”
3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.
4 The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all the Israelites and set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. 7 Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”
“There is one in Endor,” they said.
8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”
9 But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”
10 Saul swore to her by the LORD, “As surely as the LORD lives, you will not be punished for this.”
11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”
“Bring up Samuel,” he said.
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”
13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”
The woman said, “I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.”
14 “What does he look like?” he asked.
“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”
16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has turned away from you and become your enemy? 17 The LORD has done what he predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this to you today. 19 The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.”
20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and night.
21 When the woman came to Saul and saw that he was greatly shaken, she said, “Look, your maidservant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. 22 Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”
23 He refused and said, “I will not eat.”
But his men joined the woman in urging him, and he listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the couch.
24 The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast. 25 Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left.
I have included this passage because I was bothered by it while a Christian. I always wondered how a mere woman could conjure someone’s spirit out of heaven (since it is assumed Samuel went to heaven and not hell). Is not God in control of souls after death? If Samuel could be conjured up then, could some person today conjure up Moses or Peter?
I am not the only Christian to have questions about this passage. I found the following question and answer at biblestudy.org: http://www.biblestudy.org/question/why-did-king-saul-use-witch-to-contact-prophet.html
Q. In the book of 1Samuel it states the witch of Endor conjured up the prophet Samuel for King Saul. By whose power did she do this? Was it by the power of God or the devil?
The respondent lists some of the verses I did above, and then makes the following claim:
I would begin by saying that I don’t believe the vision that appeared to Saul through the Witch of Endor was really Samuel. Let me explain this statement.
There is NOTHING in this text that indicates the “vision” was NOT Samuel! Yet the entire response on this website is that the vision could not be Samuel because that would contradict other sections of the bible.
The response mentions several verses from Leviticus and Deuteronomy that basically say “don’t tolerate witchcraft.” Here is the last part of this response:
Although we are not told specifically that the witch of Endor was using the power of Satan to do her “consulting of the dead”, we are told that she was possessed with a “familiar spirit”, i.e., a demon, and by the scriptures quoted and many others, we know such things DO NOT come from God.
Whatever or whoever it was that Saul saw in his vision, it certainly was not Samuel for Samuel was dead [1Samuel 28:3]. We also know that the dead “know nothing” and have no part “in any thing under the sun”.
“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. ” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, NIV)
Whatever or whoever it was that Saul saw in that vision, it (he) told Samuel that Israel was going to lose its battle and that Saul and his sons would be killed and Saul’s kingdom handed over to David. That is exactly what happened (see 1Samuel 31:1-6; 2Samuel 1-5). God controls all things. Perhaps He controlled the vision that Saul saw, but I think it more likely that the demon in the witch of Endor took delight in taunting Saul, the King of Israel.
According to this Christian response, if the vision were truly of Samuel, then it would contradict Ecclesiastes 9. Christians do not want to admit the bible has contradictions, even when it is obvious. So the Christian simply asserts that this vision was a demonic hallucination. However, there is nothing in the scripture to indicate that it was anything other than Samuel’s spirit. How could this passage be so consistently misleading?
Furthermore, if it were a demonic spirit as this Christian says, then how could the demon know the future? Does not only God know the future? Did God tell the demon this knowledge? The Christian respondent does not consider the further contradictions he has created by changing the entire meaning of this passage in order to eliminate a contradiction.
It would be a lot simpler and smarter if Christians would just admit that there are contradictions in the bible. Then they would not have to look like idiots trying to explain away all the nonsense.