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1 Samuel 28:3-25 & meaning...


woman said to him, “Behold, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off those who have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?”

1 Samuel 28:9


1 Samuel 28 [1.] In those days, the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. Achish said to David, “Know assuredly that you will go out with me in the army, you and your men.”

1 Samuel 28 [2.] David said to Achish, “Therefore you will know what your servant can do.”

Achish said to David, “Therefore I will make you my bodyguard forever.”

1 Samuel 28 [3.] Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. Saul had put away those who had familiar spirits the wizards, out of the land. The Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and encamped in Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped in Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. When Saul inquired of Yahweh, Yahweh didn’t answer him by dreams, by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who has a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her.”

His servants said to him, “Behold, there is a woman who has a familiar spirit at Endor.”

1 Samuel 28 [8.] Saul disguised himself and put on other clothing, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night. Then he said, “Please consult for me by the familiar spirit, and bring me up whomever I shall name to you.”

1 Samuel 28 [9.] The woman said to him, “Behold, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off those who have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?”

1 Samuel 28 [10.] Saul swore to her by Yahweh, saying, “As Yahweh lives, no punishment will happen to you for this thing.”

1 Samuel 28 [11.] Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up to you?”

He said, “Bring Samuel up for me.”

1 Samuel 28 [12.] When the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice; and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!”

1 Samuel 28 [13.] The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid! What do you see?”

The woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.”

1 Samuel 28 [14.] He said to her, “What does he look like?”

She said, “An old man comes up. He is covered with a robe.” Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and showed respect.

1 Samuel 28 [15.] Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me, to bring me up?”

Saul answered, “I am very distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me, and answers me no more, by prophets, or by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I shall do.”

1 Samuel 28 [16.] Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since Yahweh has departed from you and has become your adversary? Yahweh has done to you as he spoke by me. Yahweh has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, even to David. Because you didn’t obey Yahweh’s voice, and didn’t execute his fierce wrath on Amalek, therefore Yahweh has done this thing to you today. Moreover Yahweh will deliver Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Yahweh will deliver the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”

1 Samuel 28 [20.] Then Saul fell immediately his full length on the earth, and was terrified, because of Samuel’s words. There was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day or all the night.

1 Samuel 28 [21.] The woman came to Saul, and saw that he was very troubled, and said to him, “Behold, your servant has listened to your voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have listened to your words which you spoke to me. Now therefore, please listen also to the voice of your servant, and let me set a morsel of bread before you. Eat, that you may have strength, when you go on your way.”

1 Samuel 28 [23.] But he refused, and said, “I will not eat.” But his servants, together with the woman, constrained him; and he listened to their voice. So he arose from the earth and sat on the bed. The woman had a fattened calf in the house. She hurried and killed it; and she took flour, and kneaded it, and baked unleavened bread of it. She brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they ate. Then they rose up, and went away that night.


1 Samuel 28:3-25 tells the story of King Saul seeking out the medium at Endor to summon the spirit of the prophet Samuel. This passage provides a dramatic narrative that underscores themes of desperation, disobedience, and the consequences of turning away from God. 

Saul’s Decline: King Saul's reign began with promise but soon was marked by disobedience and a growing distance from God. His failure to fully obey God's commands led to his rejection as king in favor of David.

Samuel’s Death: The passage begins by noting the death of Samuel, the prophet who had anointed Saul and later David. Samuel’s death left Saul without his primary spiritual advisor.

Philistine Threat: The Philistines gathered to fight against Israel, causing Saul great fear and anxiety. Despite his attempts to seek God’s guidance, Saul received no answer through traditional means such as dreams, the Urim, or prophets.

  • Key Elements of the Story:

Saul Seeks a Medium: In desperation, Saul disguises himself and seeks out a medium in Endor, despite having previously expelled all mediums and spiritists from the land.

The Medium’s Summoning: The medium reluctantly summons Samuel’s spirit at Saul’s request. When Samuel appears, the medium realizes the true identity of her client.

Samuel’s Message: Samuel rebukes Saul for disturbing him and reiterates that God has departed from Saul due to his disobedience. Samuel foretells Saul's impending defeat and death, confirming that the kingdom will be given to David.

Saul’s Reaction: Overwhelmed with fear and weakness, Saul falls to the ground. The medium offers him food to regain his strength before he leaves.

Theological Significance

  • Desperation and Disobedience:

Saul’s Desperation: Saul’s decision to consult a medium illustrates his desperation and lack of faith. Instead of seeking God with a repentant heart, he turns to forbidden practices, showing his spiritual decline.

Violation of God’s Law: Consulting a medium was explicitly forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Saul’s actions highlight his disobedience and the seriousness of turning away from God’s commands.

  • Consequences of Turning Away from God:

God’s Silence: Saul's inability to receive guidance from God underscores the consequences of persistent disobedience. His rejection by God is both a cause and effect of his spiritual state.

Prophetic Fulfillment: Samuel's message reiterates the prophetic judgment against Saul. The confirmation of Saul’s downfall and the rise of David underscore God’s sovereign plan and the fulfillment of His word.

Applications for Our Lives

  • Seeking God in Times of Distress:

Faith and Repentance: In times of distress, we should seek God with faith and a repentant heart rather than turning to unholy or forbidden practices. True guidance and comfort come from a sincere relationship with God.

Trust in God’s Sovereignty: Trusting in God’s sovereignty means accepting His timing and methods of communication, even when they seem silent. Persistent prayer and faithfulness are key.

  • Obedience to God’s Commands:

Avoiding Forbidden Practices: The story of Saul and the medium at Endor serves as a warning against seeking spiritual guidance outside of God’s revealed will. Modern equivalents might include astrology, psychics, or other forms of divination.

Holiness and Separation: As believers, we are called to live holy lives, set apart for God. This includes avoiding practices that defile and compromise our relationship with Him.

  • The Consequences of Disobedience:

Spiritual Decline: Saul’s story highlights the gradual but inevitable decline that comes from persistent disobedience. It serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of staying true to God’s commands.

Repentance and Restoration: Even in moments of failure, the opportunity for repentance and restoration is always present. Turning back to God with a humble and contrite heart can restore our relationship with Him.


Leviticus 19:31: "Don’t turn to those who are mediums, nor to the wizards. Don’t seek them out, to be defiled by them. I am Yahweh your God." This verse directly commands the Israelites to avoid mediums and wizards, emphasizing the defilement associated with such practices.

Deuteronomy 18:10-12: "There shall not be found with you anyone who makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices sorcery, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to Yahweh. Because of these abominations, Yahweh your God drives them out from before you." These verses outline various forbidden practices and their abominable nature, providing a clear basis for Saul’s earlier expulsion of mediums and spiritists.

1 Chronicles 10:13-14: "So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against Yahweh, because of the word of Yahweh which he didn’t keep, and also because he asked counsel of one who had a familiar spirit, to inquire, and didn’t inquire of Yahweh. Therefore he killed him, and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse." This passage summarizes Saul’s fate, linking his death to his disobedience and consultation with a medium, further emphasizing the consequences of his actions.

Conclusion: The story of Saul and the medium at Endor in 1 Samuel 28:3-25 is a vivid illustration of the dangers of desperation and disobedience. Saul’s turn to forbidden practices in a moment of fear highlights his spiritual decline and the severe consequences of turning away from God. For us, the passage serves as a powerful reminder to seek God faithfully, obey His commands, and trust in His sovereignty, especially in times of distress.

By avoiding modern equivalents of forbidden practices and maintaining a holy, obedient life, we can remain aligned with God’s will and experience the fullness of His guidance and blessing. The story encourages us to trust in God’s ultimate plan, even when facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, and to hold fast to our faith with a repentant and humble heart.

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PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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