Friday, October 17, 2008

The Witch of Endor - Part 2

In yesterday’s blog I reviewed the state of King Saul in 1 Samuel 28 that led him to consult a medium. As the disguised King Saul speaks with the witch of Endor, the medium asks which spirit is desired and she is told to bring up the spirit of Samuel. When the medium sees Samuel she cries out with a loud voice (v11-12). It may be that she had been a fraud and was totally freaked out when she saw a real spirit. It is also possible that she was familiar with the presence of demonic spirits but this experience was different. The fact that Samuel’s appearance was not the expected result shows that mediums have no real power over the dead but can at best only produce counterfeits.

This appearance of Samuel causes her to recognize King Saul. Saul asks what the spirit looked like (v13-14). The medium describes the spirit as being divine (this does not mean she saw God or that Samuel was deified) and as an old man wrapped with a robe. This description convinces Saul that it is Samuel and he bows with his face to the ground. Saul may have remembered Samuel’s earlier prophecy with his torn robe symbolizing that God would tear the kingdom of Israel from Saul (1 Samuel 15:26-28)

Was this really Samuel or was it a demon? Some say it was Samuel. This is due to the fact that the witch was startled by the appearance of Samuel. The text also specifically says that it was Samuel that appeared (v15). This spirit prophesied accurately what would happen the next day making it unlikely that it was a demon. Now if this is really Samuel, this occurrence is the exception in Scripture, not the rule.

Others say it was a demon. Those is due to the fact that Saul never personally saw Samuel but only had the medium’s word. Since all forms of witchcraft and mediums were condemned in the Bible, it is hard to think that God would use such a medium. Remember that God had quit communicating to Saul. Why then would he speak to him through pagan means? For these and other reasons, many believe this was a demon. I happen to lean toward the fact that this actually was the spirit of Samuel.

Samuel asks why he had been disturbed and Saul shares his dismal situation (v15). Samuel verifies that the Lord had rejected Saul due to his disobedience and that his kingdom would be given to David (v16-18). Samuel also predicts that Saul and his sons would be killed the next day at the hands of the Philistines (v19, 31:1-6).

So how do we explain instances today where people have seen dead relatives? In most every case ghosts are not the spirits of men and women but rather are fallen angels masquerading as our loved ones. But what about these ghosts that have appeared to humans as dead relatives and seemingly possessed a knowledge that only that person could have known? That answer is easy. Demons have existed since God created the world. They are older than us and our loved ones and can easily retain knowledge about that person’s life. And listen, folks, 2 Corinthians 11:14 teaches very clearly that Satan is an angel of light, able to disguise himself and able to disguise his deceptions.


Ed "What the" Heckman said...

There's another reason why I think it actually was Samuel. To my knowledge, God never spoke in a "Thus sayeth the LORD" fashion through the means of a deception. Yes, some messages were given through fantastical means (a donkey speaking, the burning bush, angels, etc.) but none of those messages were given through something other than what they seemed to be. Am I right about this?

One other thought I had is that Saul's attempt to contact Samuel was very much like a teenager attempting to sneak out at night. They sneak down the stairs, tiptoe through the kitchen to the back door, open it oh so slowly, wincing at the light screech of the screen door, close the door ever so softly, then turn around to find Dad standing there with his arms crossed. Busted! It shouldn't be surprising that even though he was trying to make use of occult communications, Saul found out the hard way that God is already there and sovereign over even the demons.

Pastor Scott said...

I agree, Ed. I can not think of any situation where God spoke through a deceptive form. I also agree with your analogy. It's as if God said, "OK, Saul. If you want to go down that road I'll let you and I'll teach you a lesson you'll never forget at the same time!"

Thanks for taking the time to refelct on the message. That is very encouraging to me, brother!