So did King Saul completely give up on killing David?
“And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.
And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head forever” (1 Sam 28:1-2).
The Philistines pitched in Shunem and Saul in Gilboa.
“And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.
And when Saul enquired of the LORD,1 the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets” (1 Sam 28:5-6).
After Samuel died, Saul got rid of all the2familiar spirits and wizards. But now he wanted one so he told his servants to find him a woman that had a familiar spirit. His men told him there was one in En-dor, so Saul disguised himself and took two men with him.
“And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
And Saul swore to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.
Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? For thou art Saul.
And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh 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 himself.
And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbor, even to David:
Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.
Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.
And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me.
Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way.
But he refused, and said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed.
And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof:
And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night” (1 Sam 28:9-25).
1God will not answer prayers that come from evil people.
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear (Is 59:1-2).
Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: He will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings (Mic 3:4).
2Why Saul got rid of the familiar spirits and wizards is unknown, since he still chose to use them. He may have thought by doing that God would forgive him because participating with evil spirits is a sin.
There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh is son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times,
Or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
For all that do these things are abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee (Deut 18:10-12).
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou has rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee form being king (1 Sam 15:23).
Now the work of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I tell you before, as I have last told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21).
Necromancy, the practice of divination through inquiring of the dead, was forbidden under Biblical law (Lev 19:31; 20:6).
Saul himself had banned this activity from the land and yet, in his desperation to receive some instruction regarding the future, he himself turned to a necromancer.
Such attempts to communicate with the dead are known throughout the ancient Near East.
Mesopotamia provides a few examples of the most famous of which is the Sumerian story of “Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld,” in which Nergal summons the ghost of Enkidu to rise from a hole in the ground in order that he might speak to Gilgamesh.
Other Mesopotamian examples attest to necromancers (both male and female) using skulls to house the spirits while they were being questioned.
In Egypt, letters were written to the dead, most likely for purposes of necromancy.
In 1 Sam 28:13, when the necromancer sees Samuel she asserts that she is seeing a “divine being” or “gods” (elohim in Hebrew).
This use of elohim to refer to a ghost is unique in the Bible and has given rise to numerous historical and theological questions.
Is this an indication that the dead were deified in ancient Israel and could be sought out in order to provide an oracle?
Other surrounding cultures had ceremonies to honor the dead in cultic fashion; in Mesopotamia such a ceremony was called the kispu ritual.
The cities of Mari and Ugarit also practiced food offerings and libations for the dead.
Laws against such activities in the Bible (Lev 19:31, 20:27; Deut 18:9-14) suggest that a similar practice was well known, though forbidden, in Israel.
Saul’s willingness to contravene his own decree and God’s law and engage in the heterodox practice of divining the dead demonstrates the desperation and degradation to which his unfaithfulness had brought him.
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