1 Samuel 28 and the Witch/Medium: What spirit did she bring up?

Who/What does the Witch of En-dor call up for Saul (1 Sam. 28) [see text below]

  • No one, it was a hoax, she's a fake

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The Devil, disguised as Samuel

    Votes: 11 16.2%
  • Samuel

    Votes: 54 79.4%
  • Other

    Votes: 3 4.4%

  • Total voters
    68
Status
Not open for further replies.

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Who does the witch of En-dor call up? This is a poll, I will give 3 options and the fourth will be other.

The text follows (NKJV).

11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!” 13 And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What did you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.” 14 So he said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down. 15 Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.” 16 Then Samuel said: “So why do you ask me, seeing the LORD has departed from you and has become your enemy? 17 And the LORD has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.” 20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day or all night.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Given that the spirit read Saul the riot act and urged him to repent, how could it be any evil spirit? The devil's favorite pastime is not bringing people to repentance.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I like what Matthew Henry has to say about this passage:

We have here the conference between Saul and Satan. Saul came in disguise (v. 8), but Satan soon discovered him, v. 12. Satan comes in disguise, in the disguise of Samuel's mantle, and Saul cannot discover him. Such is the disadvantage we labour under, in wrestling with the rulers of the darkness of this world, that they know us, while we are ignorant of their wiles and devices.

I. The spectre, or apparition, personating Samuel, asks why he is sent for (v. 15): Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up? To us this discovers that it was an evil spirit that personated Samuel; for (as bishop Patrick observes) it is not in the power of witches to disturb the rest of good men and to bring them back into the world when they please; nor would the true Samuel have acknowledged such a power in magical arts: but to Saul this was a proper device of Satan's, to draw veneration from him, to possess him with an opinion of the power of divination, and so to rivet him in the devil's interests.

II. Saul makes his complaint to this counterfeit Samuel, mistaking him for the true; and a most doleful complaint it is: "I am sorely distressed, and know not what to do, for the Philistines make war against me; yet I should do well enough with them if I had but the tokens of God's presence with me; but, alas! God has departed from me." He complained not of God's withdrawings till he fell into trouble, till the Philistines made war against him, and then he began to lament God's departure. He that in his prosperity enquired not after God in his adversity thought it hard that God answered him not, nor took any notice of his enquiries, either by dreams or prophets, neither gave answers immediately himself nor sent them by any of his messengers. He does not, like a penitent, own the righteousness of God in this; but, like a man enraged, flies out against God as unkind and flies off from him: Therefore I have called thee; as if Samuel, a servant of God, would favour those whom God frowned upon, or as if a dead prophet could do him more service than the living ones. One would think, from this, that he really desired to meet with the devil, and expected no other (though under the covert of Samuel's name), for he desires advice otherwise than from God, therefore from the devil, who is a rival with God. "God denies me, therefore I come to thee. Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo." --If I fail with heaven, I will move hell.

III. It is cold comfort which this evil spirit in Samuel's mantle gives to Saul, and is manifestly intended to drive him to despair and self-murder. Had it been the true Samuel, when Saul desired to be told what he should do he would have told him to repent and make his peace with God, and recall David from his banishment, and would then have told him that he might hope in this way to find mercy with God; but, instead of that, he represents his case as helpless and hopeless, serving him as he did Judas, to whom he was first a tempter and then a tormentor, persuading him first to sell his master and then to hang himself. 1. He upbraids him with his present distress (v. 16), tells him, not only that God had departed from him, but that he had become his enemy, and therefore he must expect no comfortable answer from him: "Wherefore dost thou ask me? How can I be thy friend when God is thy enemy, or thy counsellor when he has left thee?" 2. He upbraids him with the anointing of David to the kingdom, v. 17. He could not have touched upon a string that sounded more unpleasant in the ear of Saul than this. Nothing is said to reconcile him to David, but all tends rather to exasperate him against David and widen the breach. Yet, to make him believe that he was Samuel, the apparition affirmed that it was God who spoke by him. The devil knows how to speak with an air of religion, and can teach false apostles to transform themselves into the apostles of Christ and imitate their language. Those who use spells and charms, and plead, in defence of them, that they find nothing in them but what is good, may remember what good words the devil here spoke, and yet with what a malicious design. 3. He upbraids him with his disobedience to the command of God in not destroying the Amalekites, v. 18. Satan had helped him to palliate and excuse that sin when Samuel was dealing with him to bring him to repentance, but now he aggravates it, to make him despair of God's mercy. See what those get that hearken to Satan's temptations. He himself will be their accuser, and insult over them. And see whom those resemble that allure others to that which is evil and reproach them for it when they have done. 4. He foretels his approaching ruin, v. 19. (1.) That his army should be routed by the Philistines. This is twice mentioned: The Lord shall deliver Israel into the hand of the Philistines. This he might foresee, by considering the superior strength and number of the Philistines, the weakness of the armies of Israel, Saul's terror, and especially God's departure from them. Yet, to personate a prophet, he very gravely ascribes it once and again to God: The Lord shall do it. (2.) That he and his sons should be slain in the battle: To-morrow, that is, in a little time (and, supposing that it was now after midnight, I see not but it may be taken strictly for the very next day after that which had now begun), thou and thy sons shall be with me, that is, in the state of the dead, separate from the body. Had this been the true Samuel, he could not have foretold the event unless God had revealed it to him; and, though it were an evil spirit, God might by him foretel it; as we read of an evil spirit that foresaw Ahab's fall at Ramoth-Gilead and was instrumental in it (1 Kings xxii. 20, &c.), as perhaps this evil spirit was, by the divine permission, in Saul's destruction. That evil spirit flattered Ahab, this frightened Saul, and both that they might fall; so miserable are those that are under the power of Satan; for, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest, Prov. xxix. 9.

Contrast Saul's seeking a medium with the Mount of Transfiguration.

Matthew 17:1-3 And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

Our Lord was on a high mountain; symbolic of being in heaven, where God resides. No medium was sought, yet the symbol of the Law (Moses), and of the one to make straight the way of the Lord (Elijah), appear. They appear in the light; whereas Saul sought Samuel in the darkness. They appeared on a high mountain in the presence of the King of Kings; whereas the apparition of Samuel was summoned from below and in the presence of a minister of Satan.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I read Henry and I believe I disagreed with him. Here's why.

1) The narrator says (not Saul, not Saul's men, not the witch), but the narrator the author of the book of Samuel says, "The woman saw Samuel..." Now if it were Saul or the witch, then we could be skeptical. Like when David in the previous chapter says he has put men of Judah to death, we can be suspicious that he may be lying and in fact is to Achish, because David (a man) says it, but here it is the AUTHOR who says, 'the woman saw Samuel.'

2) It says the woman cried out (v. 12) because she was afraid (v. 13a). It is hard to fake genuine terror, and this woman is frightened (at least Saul thinks so), perhaps she was a fake and she had never seen anything like this before. And so here she is terrified of what she sees. Or she could be so terrified because of what happens that she knows that she is dealing with a power that is far beyond her. Whatever is the case, she shows here with her actions that this is not normal. [this doesn't prove anything, but it shows the possibility at least].

3) The test of a true prophet is what? If what they say comes true, right? What does this 'Samuel' figure (whoever he may be, I think he is Samuel himself) say to Saul?

"16So why do you ask me, seeing the LORD has departed from you and has become your enemy? [Yes that is true, He had done that] 17 And the LORD has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day.

Everything said here is consistent with Scripture and the prophecy Samuel made to Saul earlier in the book.

19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.

This comes true, in chapter 31, Samuel dies and Israel is defeated. They join Samuel in the grave.

So the test of prophecy holds.

4) This is the easiest rendering of the text. Any other interpretation seems to have to make things up, if you read Matthew Henry (not that I ever like to disagree with him) he states things that are not clear in the text and he assumes things. But the interpretation of Samuel is the easiest interpretation to come to.

5) People believe that this can't be Samuel because it says that she calls him up. And so some believe it that it must be Satan/devil because he comes up from the pit. But that seems like eisegesis. It doesn't say he comes up from the pit of hell or anything like that. It says he comes up. Well the Old Testament is not silent about God's people who are dead being in the grave (Psalm 88 for example), why couldn't this be Samuel coming up from the grave? It would make sense since then Saul and his men would be joining Samuel (in the grave).

6) The means or the how this happens doesn't really have any bearing on who this 'Samuel' is. Obviously Saul is disobeying the Lord, but because he goes to a witch, because he does something contrary to the law (Leviticus 19, 20; Deut. 18), does that mean God can't use it to bring his judgment to his anointed one? No. Does God not permit Satan's servants (ungodly, non-Christian men) to bring the word and save sinners like you and me? So how Saul comes to the witch and calls for Samuel is a problem (sin), but that doesn't prove that it isn't Samuel.

I'll stop there for now I guess. I believe it is Samuel.
[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
It had to be Samuel. The Bible states that it was Samuel and doesn't allude to it being anything or anybody else (I don't believe the Bible tries to trick us and make us dream up all sorts of fanciful ideas), and what Samuel said would happen did happen....proof of a real prophet.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
Not only does Scripture tell us that the woman saw Samuel, she also seems quite surprised by it...
v12 - When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Got to be Samuel, for the reasons already outlined above; basically I just don't see any reason that isn't massively contrived to believe otherwise. There's no more reason to believe it isn't Samuel than to believe it was Jacob Marley.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I agree with Calvin:
Not Samuel; if God refused to speak to Saul through legitimate means (Samuel when alive),
neither would he speak to him through illegitimate means (Dead Samuel).
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I agree with Calvin:
Not Samuel; if God refused to speak to Saul through legitimate means (Samuel when alive),
neither would he speak to him through illegitimate means (Dead Samuel).

What would that imply about Baalam's Ass?

Balaam's ass did not take on a human persona. In other words, it did not claim to represent a human being. It was a divine act of God. The humorous part of that narrative is that Balaam engaged his donkey in dialog.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
I believe the woman was a fake though she was probably the play thing of a demon who made her think she could communicate with the dead.

I don't believe that she conjured up Samuel. I do believe that God was demonstrating to Saul and the witch that nothing is hidden from Him and God was revealing a message to each:

To Saul he simply reminded him that he blew it and there would be no second chance or escape through prayer OR witchcraft.

To the witch he revealed that she did not really control the spirit world, that God sees and knows all things and that she was just a tool.

The appearance was probably just a phantasm meaning that the witch saw and heard a ghostly image but it was really just a message, the medium wasn't important. Could have been an angel, could have been just a God induced illusion or vision. God's sovereignty is the atmosphere surrounding this entire story.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
I agree with Calvin:
Not Samuel; if God refused to speak to Saul through legitimate means (Samuel when alive),
neither would he speak to him through illegitimate means (Dead Samuel).

What would that imply about Baalam's Ass?

Balaam's ass did not take on a human persona. In other words, it did not claim to represent a human being. It was a divine act of God.

What i was trying to get at was, can we call Baalam's Ass a "legitimate" means of speaking any more or less than we can Dead Samuel?

In other words, neither the Ass nor Samuel were normal methods God used.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
What would that imply about Baalam's Ass?

Balaam's ass did not take on a human persona. In other words, it did not claim to represent a human being. It was a divine act of God.

What i was trying to get at was, can we call Baalam's Ass a "legitimate" means of speaking any more or less than we can Dead Samuel?

In other words, neither the Ass nor Samuel were normal methods God used.

Were they legitimate? My opinion is that the incident in 1 Samuel 28 is unlawful and, therefore, illegitimate. The communication from Balaam's donkey, while not normal, was not unlawful; it was therefore legitimate.
 
Last edited:

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
btw this poll is refreshing. I am normally in the majority. I kind of like being in the minority. It appeals to my feisty nature.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
You guys are too caught up on the legitimacy of these moments.

Is it ever legitimate to tell a father to sacrifice his son? Yes, if you a the Sovereign law giver, creator and sustainer of the universe.

Jesus reminded his critics that if you were to quiet his worshippers then the rocks themselves will cry out. God is not restricted in anyway when it comes to revelation. God speaks through his Word these days so I don't expect a donkey is going to reveal much, neither is an angel and neither is phantasm of Samuel.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
The Bible says that I'm not to murder someone in my anger... that doesn't mean it is impossible for me to do so. In the same way, the Bible doesn't say that the dead are not able to be contacted... it says we are not to attempt to do so. I bring up that particular point because there are a few "illegitimate" things mentioned in the Bible that seem to "work" - meaning they are things forbidden, but nonetheless seem to elicit some genuine "spiritual" response. Only a pragmatist would try to argue that just because something works it is therefore good and proper. So don't be afraid on those grounds to concede that in this particular case the dead may in fact have been contacted.

My thought is that this passage isn't really about Samuel. The passage is about Saul, in continued rebellion against God, resisting God's nullification of his office. While he (and the witch) were obviously using an illegitimate means, nonetheless, God in His sovereignty used it as an opportunity to rebuke him through the prophet.

I really don't know why people think that citing this as "illegitimate" or "unlawful" somehow means God couldn't use it for His purposes. In fact, just sitting here I can think of numerous times in Scripture where someone's "unlawful/illegitimate" actions are the means God uses. There's no necessary reason why this would be any different.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
Balaam's ass did not take on a human persona. In other words, it did not claim to represent a human being. It was a divine act of God.

What i was trying to get at was, can we call Baalam's Ass a "legitimate" means of speaking any more or less than we can Dead Samuel?

In other words, neither the Ass nor Samuel were normal methods God used.

Where they legitimate? My opinion is that the incident in 1 Samuel 28 is unlawful and, therefore, illegitimate. The communication from Balaam's donkey, while not normal, was not unlawful; it was therefore legitimate.

I disagree with the presumption that if something isn't illegal it's legitimate.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The relevant texts are 1Sam.15:35; 19:18,22,24;
and especially 28:6 "And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets."

In other words, Saul sought for legitimate means to have God speak to him. He prayed, he went to worship, he sought the will of God through the intermediaries God had provided--priests and prophets. And God literally would not speak to him.

Did God permit Saul to know the truth, via the medium? Yes, though why Saul should have expected a speaker of unreliable pronouncements to give him insight only shows how far he had fallen.

God influenced Ahab through a "lying spirit" in the mouth of his false prophets.
God can do what he likes.

God can speak through an ass, but 1) people aren't typically trying to access secret knowledge through verbalizing animals, and 2) there was no God given LAW against accessing the verbalized thoughts of animals, 3) Balaam wasn't trying to get his donkey to talk to him.

There was Law against witchcraft. Ex.22:18; Lev.19:31; 20:27; Dt.18:10-11

Saul had harried mediums out of the land (1Sam.28:3,9), in accord with the Law's prohibition. Saul knew these were agents of evil standing against Jehovah. But he somehow thinks one of these creatures will be able to compel Samuel's attendance?

If God wasn't going to speak through legitimate means to Saul, even though he sought them out (recall God even spoke truth to Ahab, when he sought out Micaiah), I don't believe that he gave Saul even a message of judgment through his ghostly prophet, summoned buy a medium.

I think it was a demonic seance, and it was attended by a demon. But I don't think that anyone should have been inclined to believe the word of a demon, a medium, or any "spirit" message produced in that environment.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
What i was trying to get at was, can we call Baalam's Ass a "legitimate" means of speaking any more or less than we can Dead Samuel?

In other words, neither the Ass nor Samuel were normal methods God used.

Where they legitimate? My opinion is that the incident in 1 Samuel 28 is unlawful and, therefore, illegitimate. The communication from Balaam's donkey, while not normal, was not unlawful; it was therefore legitimate.

I disagree with the presumption that if something isn't illegal it's legitimate.

I didn't say that. I said that the incident in 1 Samuel 28 is UNLAWFUL and, therefore, illegitimate. Saul's seeking out the witch of Endor was an unlawful act.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
The Bible says that I'm not to murder someone in my anger... that doesn't mean it is impossible for me to do so. In the same way, the Bible doesn't say that the dead are not able to be contacted... it says we are not to attempt to do so. I bring up that particular point because there are a few "illegitimate" things mentioned in the Bible that seem to "work" - meaning they are things forbidden, but nonetheless seem to elicit some genuine "spiritual" response. Only a pragmatist would try to argue that just because something works it is therefore good and proper. So don't be afraid on those grounds to concede that in this particular case the dead may in fact have been contacted.

My thought is that this passage isn't really about Samuel. The passage is about Saul, in continued rebellion against God, resisting God's nullification of his office. While he (and the witch) were obviously using an illegitimate means, nonetheless, God in His sovereignty used it as an opportunity to rebuke him through the prophet.

I really don't know why people think that citing this as "illegitimate" or "unlawful" somehow means God couldn't use it for His purposes. In fact, just sitting here I can think of numerous times in Scripture where someone's "unlawful/illegitimate" actions are the means God uses. There's no necessary reason why this would be any different.

Ben, I'm not arguing that God did not use the incident with Saul for His purpose. He certainly did. I am just making a simple statement that it was both unlawful and illegitimate for Saul to seek out a medium.
 

JonathanHunt

Puritan Board Senior
I also say, and have preached, NOT Samuel. I'm amazed to be in such a tiny minority.

Better brethren have already given the argumentation I follow with this passage.

I do believe she was a fraud, but I do believe she genuinely saw and heard what she believed to be Samuel, hence the shock.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
I am just making a simple statement that it was both unlawful and illegitimate for Saul to seek out a medium.

And you're absolutely right: It was unlawful and illegitimate for Saul to seek out a medium.

That doesn't mean that the medium didn't accomplish the "assigned task."
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
So everyone who doesn't agree that it is Samuel, are you saying that the narrator, the author of the book, the one under inspiration of the Holy Spirit writing the text down is wrong?

For he says, "the woman saw Samuel..."

Are we really going to play tricks with the text to show that it isn't Samuel?
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
So everyone who doesn't agree that it is Samuel, are you saying that the narrator, the author of the book, the one under inspiration of the Holy Spirit writing the text down is wrong?

For he says, "the woman saw Samuel..."

Are we really going to play tricks with the text to show that it isn't Samuel?

Andrew,

You're making an unfair accusation towards those who do not agree with you. Speaking only for myself, I am not playing tricks with the text. The text does not say exactly in what form this image of Samuel appeared. For reasons that I have articulate earlier in this thread, I do not believe the witch conjured up Samuel. It is perfectly reasonable to leave this passage up for debate. Was it actually Samuel? A demon? Am illusion? I'm not sure what it was, but at this point I am not convinced that it was Samuel himself.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Did Calvin "play tricks with the text"?

That's a pretty strong accusation against one of our historic Doctors.

The figure is "called" according to how the persons in the room appear to perceive him.

That is an entirely different question from whether what they perceive is reality.

Theologically, it most pro-Samuels (of which I would have described myself, until Calvin taught me otherwise) treat this situation as an extremely--perhaps ONLY--rare situation, where God sent a departed soul back to earth (even to the point of having him "rise up out of the ground") to speak to the living.

So, it is not as though taking the name-in-the-text at face value doesn't carry with it definite interpretive difficulties for its own side.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
So everyone who doesn't agree that it is Samuel, are you saying that the narrator, the author of the book, the one under inspiration of the Holy Spirit writing the text down is wrong?

For he says, "the woman saw Samuel..."

Are we really going to play tricks with the text to show that it isn't Samuel?

Andrew,

You're making an unfair accusation towards those who do not agree with you. Speaking only for myself, I am not playing tricks with the text. The text does not say exactly in what form this image of Samuel appeared. For reasons that I have articulate earlier in this thread, I do not believe the witch conjured up Samuel. It is perfectly reasonable to leave this passage up for debate. Was it actually Samuel? A demon? Am illusion? I'm not sure what it was, but at this point I am not convinced that it was Samuel himself.

Sorry for my unfair accusation.

I just can't get passed, even though Calvin might be against me (there is much weight there but Scripture is above Calvin.... gasp*), i just can't get passed that the author, the one under inspiration of the Spirit, who isn't there in person to witness this (unless the author is Saul, his men or the witch, which I don't think it is), the one under inspiration of the Spirit says, "the woman saw Samuel...".

And that which was 'prophesied' was true and came true. A false prophet would have prophesied and it would have not come true.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Andrew, if you can't get passed it then so be it. Be at peace with your interpretation of the text. If Calvin and Henry are in agreement then at least respect their opinion.
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
Add John Gill to the list that saw it as not Samuel:

Some have thought that it was the true Samuel, or the soul of Samuel, that appeared; so Josephus, and many other writers; but to this may be objected, that that would not have ascended out of the earth, but come down from heaven; and that it cannot reasonably be supposed that it was in the power of the witch, by the assistance of the devil, to fetch it from heaven; nor be thought that God would send it from thence on such an errand, to give Saul an answer, when he would not answer him by any prophet on earth, nor in any other way; and especially it seems quite incredible that he should send it at the motion of a witch, and through her enchantments, who, according to a law of his, ought not to live; whereas nothing could have given greater countenance to such a wicked profession than this: nor would the true Samuel have admitted such worship and homage to be paid him, as is expressed in this last clause, which angelic spirits have refused, Re 19:10; though perhaps no more than civil respect is intended: but rather this was a diabolical spectre, or apparition, or the devil, that appeared in the form and shape of Samuel, and mimicked him; and was one of those deceiving spirits Porphyry speaks of, that appear in various shapes and forms, and pretend to be gods or demons, or the souls of the deceased. Some think all this was the cunning and imposture of the woman alone, or that she was assisted with a confederate, who acted the part of Samuel; but this is not probable.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top