Sunday 30 October, 2016

1 Samuel 28:3-25

3 Samuel had died. The whole nation of Israel was filled with sorrow because he was dead. They had buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had thrown out of the land people who get messages from those who have died. He had also thrown out people who talk to the spirits of the dead. 4 The Philistines gathered together and set up camp at Shunem. At the same time, Saul gathered together all the Israelites. 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 cast lots by using 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 removed everyone who gets messages from those who have died. He has also removed 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 made a promise in the name of the Lord. He said to 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 ghostly figure. He’s coming up out of the earth.” 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 left 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 left 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. The Lord 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 show his great anger against the Amalekites by destroying them. 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 all that 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.

Fear. It gripped Saul, body, mind and soul. No longer in communion with the Lord, Samuel dead, a paranoid Saul realised the strength of the enemy which had come up against him.

The Philistines set up camp ready to attack and when Saul saw them his courage failed him.

Wanting guidance he turned to the Lord. But his communion with his God had been broken by his disobedience, and he no longer had God’s spirit. What a feeling of being alone Saul must have experienced!

Wanting to fill the vacuum, Saul turned to the occult. Samuel appeared and condemned him. Saul was crushed.

Many people live in a spiritual vacuum, leaving them exposed to Satan’s attacks. Our loving heavenly Father wants us to be filled to over flowing with his Holy Spirit rather than being filled with terror (v5), loneliness (v15), and leaving ourselves vulnerable to the attack of Satan. Be a conduit for the Holy Spirit, flowing into your life, and out through you to bless others.

Contrast the fruit of the Spirit – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – with the fruit of separation from God as experienced by Saul. I want to have the orchard of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Heavenly Father, your Holy Spirit is such a precious friend alongside me always.  He prompts me to seek you, helps me know what to pray when I am afraid or things are out of my control. He helps me know what you are saying to me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit today Lord. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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