Wednesday 20 March, 2013

1 Samuel 28:1-25

28 While David was living in Ziklag, the Philistines gathered their army together. They planned to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “I want you to understand that you and your men must march out with me and my army.” 2 David said, “I understand. You will see for yourself what I can do.” Achish replied, “All right. I’ll make you my own personal guard for life.” 3 Samuel had died. The whole nation of Israel was filled with sorrow because he was dead. They had buried his body in his own town of Ramah. Saul had gotten rid of people who get messages from those who have died. He had also gotten rid of people who talk to the spirits of the dead. He had thrown all of them out of the land. 4 The Philistines gathered together and set up camp at Shunem. At the same time, Saul gathered all of the fighting men of Israel together. They set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid. Terror filled his heart. 6 He asked the Lord for advice. But the Lord didn’t answer him through dreams or prophets. He didn’t answer him when Saul had the priest use the Urim. 7 Saul spoke to his attendants. He said, “Find me a woman who gets messages from those who have died. Then I can go and ask her some questions.” “There’s a woman like that in Endor,” they said. 8 Saul put on different clothes so people wouldn’t know who he was. At night he and two of his men went to see the woman. “I want you to talk to a spirit for me,” he said. “Bring up the spirit of the dead person I choose.” 9 But the woman said to him, “By now you must know what Saul has done. He has cut off everyone who gets messages from those who have died. He has also cut off everyone who talks to the spirits of the dead. He has thrown all of them out of the land. Why are you trying to trap me? Why do you want to have me put to death?” 10 Saul took an oath in the name of the Lord. He promised the woman, “You can be sure that the Lord lives. And you can be just as sure that you won’t be punished for helping me.” 11 Then the woman asked, “Whose spirit should I bring up for you?” “Bring Samuel up,” he said. 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she let out a loud scream. She said to Saul, “Why have you tricked me? You are King Saul!” 13 He said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Tell me what you see.” The woman said, “I see a spirit. He’s coming up out of the ground.” 14 “What does he look like?” Saul asked. “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel. He bowed down. He lay down flat with his face toward the ground. 15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you troubled me by bringing me up from the dead?” “I’m having big problems,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me. God has turned away from me. He doesn’t answer me anymore. He doesn’t speak to me through prophets or dreams. So I’ve called on you to tell me what to do.” 16 Samuel said, “The Lord has turned away from you. He has become your enemy. So why are you asking me what you should do? 17 The Lord has spoken through me and has done what he said he would do. He has torn the kingdom out of your hands. He has given it to one of your neighbors. He has given it to David. 18 You didn’t obey the Lord. You didn’t carry out his burning anger against the Amalekites. So he’s punishing you today. 19 “He will hand both Israel and you over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will be down here with me. The Lord will also hand Israel’s army over to the Philistines.” 20 Immediately Saul fell flat on the ground. What Samuel had said filled Saul with fear. His strength was gone. He hadn’t eaten anything all that day and night. 21 The woman went over to Saul because she saw that he was very upset. She said, “Look, I’ve obeyed you. I put my own life in danger by doing what you told me to do. 22 So please listen to me. Let me give you some food. Eat it. Then you will have the strength to go on your way.” 23 But he refused. He said, “I don’t want anything to eat.” Then his men joined the woman in begging him to eat. Finally, he paid attention to them. He got up from the ground and sat on a couch. 24 The woman had a fat calf at her house. She killed it at once. She got some flour. She mixed it and baked some bread that didn’t have any yeast in it. 25 Then she set the food in front of Saul and his men. They ate it. That same night they got up and left.

Saul asks God

what to do. This is good, but God does not tell him (an answer in itself).

I love to know what God wants me to do, but so often He doesn’t tell me specifics. I need to put myself in God’s hands in an uncertain future, not plan out what God will do. That is faith.

Rather than accept God’s sovereign choice, about directing the coming battle and the kingship of Israel, Saul takes things into his own hands, again.

He has a habit of doing what he thinks is expedient, though he knows the right thing to do. Saul knows that consulting mediums is offensive to God (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). He, himself, has outlawed them. When God does not

do what he wants, Saul seeks out a medium so he can ask Samuel what to do.

Saul has developed a second hand faith. His relationship with God is badly damaged by his disobedience. But rather than come to God in repentance, he seeks out Samuel. But Samuel’s faith won’t save Saul. Christian friends can be powerful encouragers of our relationship with God, but they should never become a substitute for it.

Samuel appears to him. It seems it was not an illusion or some demonic impersonation, but the real Samuel bringing the words of God’s judgement on Saul. I don’t begin to understand how this happened, but I do understand that the spirit world is real and dangerous. When God says to keep away from those who try to control or use it, I take that warning very seriously.

Saul gets what he does not want. His role in the coming battle is to be defeated and killed because of his (repeated) disobedience. And his destruction is also his sons’, including the faithful Jonathan. Rebellion against God often brings undeserved tragedy to those we love.

Father, help me put my trust in you above all others; obey you no matter what; walk your paths no matter how hard.

Written by David Cornell

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