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 1 SAMUEL 28:4-14



 A Preacher in his Study




I don't know what you will think about this.  I want to study an unusual text for a few days.

As you are well aware, this is October.  A holiday called "Halloween" will be celebrated by much of the country on the 31st of this month. (And this year that falls on a Sunday!  But that fact will deter few people I'm afraid!)

There is a Bible passage that "fits" into the Halloween scheme rather well I believe.

It is found in 1st Samuel 28 ... and describes a little trip King Saul of Israel took down to the local "witch!"

Here are the paragraph's opening verses:

"And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched 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, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.  Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor."   1st Samuel 28:4-7

A "woman with a familiar spirit" is today called a "medium" or a "witch" or a "spiritualist."

This whole area is "off limits" for the Christian!

God, in His Law, absolutely forbids it!

While the following verse from Leviticus may seem harsh to many today ... it yet remains in God's Word and reveals God's attitude toward such sin.  "A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them."  Leviticus 20:27   (Now, understand me.  This is not the law of the land today.  It was for Israel in her days of Mosaic legislation.  We as Christian are NOT to hurt anyone in this age!)

Yet ... here's what Scripture records about the consequences of Saul's little trip to this seance:  "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;  And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse." 1st Chronicles 10:13-14

All I am saying today is that Christians need to be careful even joking about the world of the occult!

While many now deny the fact ... the Devil is real!

There are just as many "spiritualists" in America today as ever!

We Believers in Jesus need to study the Word of God and find out the right Biblical and godly attitude to have against such activity.

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




"And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa."  1 Samuel 28:4

This may not be the biggest truth gleaned from our text ... but I do notice that Saul has had to fight the Philistines again and again!

It just looks to me like he would have maybe wanted to go ahead and finish them off ... once and for all! 

For example, in 1 Samuel 13:5 we are told:   "And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven."

And again in 1 Samuel 17:1 --- "Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim."

Surely at times the Jewish army could have taken them!

BUT here is a weakness of Saul's!

He just could not being himself to mortify his (and God's) enemies!

In 1 Samuel 15:3 God once told Saul to go and destroy the Amalekites ... from the King (Agag) all the way down to the horses and cattle!  But Saul did not obey God. He killed all but the BEST of them!  The Bible adds:  "And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.  But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly."  1 Samuel 15:8-9

Saul just did not have that "killer" instinct toward God's avowed enemies!

Christian, hear me today.

There are some things within our own lives that we had better kill!

Paul tells us to:  "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience."  Colossians 3:5-6  (That verb "mortify" means "to make dead!")

Kill off those pesky little sins that dog you wherever you go!

Again, Paul is preaching:  "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."  Romans 8:13

Had Saul early on finished the Philistines ... this particular battle would have never been fought!  (And he would have been much more likely to have destroyed Amalek as well!)

But Preacher, why is THIS BATTLE so important to Saul?

Because in this one ... he dies!

"Shunem," where the enemy is camped, means "double resting place!"

I fear that's what we've done to our enemies!  We've given them a double resting place in our lives ... and they are killing us! 

But before this fateful battle ... Saul is going to do one last thing!

One last deadly thing!

He will visit a "witch!"

More tomorrow about that!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Our verse today simply tells us:  "And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled."  1 Samuel 28:5

An old preacher once said:  "What one fears can be a great indicator of his or her character!"

Saul is here afraid of the Philistines ... those people who were the very enemies of God!

I am immediately reminded that when young (but godly) David faced this same crowd (even with their "giant Goliath" in the foreground) that he did NOT fear ... but sought the help of the Lord!

Proverbs 28:1 tells us:  "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion."

I have heard preachers say through the years:  "If a person has the fear of the Lord ... he will fear no man!  Consequently, if that person has the fear of men ... then he has no fear of the Lord!"

The verb "saw" in our verse (in Hebrew = "raah") means to look at, to inspect, to gaze upon!  Saul could not get his eyes off those Philistines!

The word "host" means an encampment, an army of men!

And the verb "trembled" means to be terrified and shake uncontrollably!

Yet this same Saul had access to the God of Israel ... just as David did!

The Scriptures were available to him too!

Such as:

Genesis 15:1 --- "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."

Listen to the Lord speak to Isaac.  "And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake."  Genesis 26:24

Or Exodus 20:20 --- "And Moses said unto the people, Fear not."

And especially Deuteronomy 1:21 --- "Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged."

Joshua 8:1 adds (in a time of battle):  "And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up."

This may be the best one yet:  "And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight."  Joshua 10:25

And, again, Saul had access to these promises!

The Law had been written and was available ... especially to Kings!

Yet again ... how we Christians of today ought to rejoice in the light of our verses here! (Plus we have more Books of the Bible than did Saul!)

I found 14 times in the New Testament where Jesus tells his people to "Fear not!"

"God, help us to fear Thee more ... and man less!  In Jesus' sweet Name, Amen."

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Our verse here is one of the saddest in all the Bible!

"And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets."  1 Samuel 28:6

Let me show you something.  It is a Hebrew "play on words."

The name Saul (which means "one asked for") is (in Hebrew) spelled:  "shaul."

The verb "enquired" is spelled:  "shaal."

Here is Saul finally living up to the meaning of his name!  But it is too late!  His sins have so grieved the Lord that no answer comes!

Saul has disobeyed again and again ... and with a hardened unrepentant heart too!

The verb "enquired" suggests that Saul sought the Lord repeatedly ... but with the same result ... no answer!

Those of us who "hear" from God had better count our blessings!

God said that to those who rebel against his Name ... consistently and violently ... He would turn His ear when their troubles came!

Listen to Proverbs 1:25-30.  "But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof."


Lamentations 2:9 talks about a time when even the prophets of God (who for the most part were backslidden in Jeremiah's day) "find no vision from the Lord!"

And Ezekiel 20:3 adds this:  "Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye come to inquire of me? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you."

But watch David, who was at that time "a man after God's Own heart!" 

1 Samuel 30:8 tells us:  "And David inquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all."

Or notice 1 Samuel 23:4 --- "Then David inquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand."

And 2 Samuel 5:19 --- "And David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand."

God in those Old Testament days did on occasion speak to people through dreams, Urim and Prophets.  Each of these suggests a miraculous intervention on God's part. Overriding one's sleep (a dream)!  Divinely guided choice (Urim)!  And Spirit Motivated Messages (Prophets)! 

Today He speaks through His precious Word and through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, Who (by the way) never leads contrary to the Word!

Christian friend, STAY on communion ground with the Holy God of the Ages!  Do not let Satan rob you of fellowship with your Father in Heaven!

That is just too high a cost to pay for anything!

Ask Saul!

And once one looses communion with God ... there's no telling what's next!

Tomorrow ... Lord willing ... you will see what I mean.

Oh, one more thing.

Let's pray this for each other today:  "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." (2 Corinthians 13:14)

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




We are studying the paragraph of Scripture that describes Saul's visit to the "Witch of Endor!"

"Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor."  1st Samuel 28:7

When King Saul asked his servant to find him a "medium," he meant business!  The verb for seek (in Hebrew = "baqash") means "to search for something until it is  found!"  He wanted results!  Furthermore this verb is framed as a "Piel" in Hebrew ... indicating that the search was to be intensive and vigorous! 

The noun for "woman" means female, lady or wife!  (The fact that the Hebrew word for female also means "wife" infuriates the feminists!  They are offended that the language has no word for female as a single lady!  They despise the thought that a woman would be automatically considered a wife or mother!)  But I still believe that God's way is the BEST way!

It would not be wrong grammatically to tell you that the Hebrew syntax here calls this woman "the wife (or the mistress) of an evil spirit!"

The noun for "familiar spirit" is "ob" in Hebrew.  It is used 17 times in the Old Testament ... 16 times as "familiar spirit" and 1 time as "bottles!"  (See Job 32:19 for the "bottles" translation.)

The old teachers "link" those words by using this picture.  As an old leather bottle swells up (from its wine contents) ... so does a "witch" when she is possessed by this evil Spirit!  She falls under its "spell!"  As the leather flask, she could nearly "burst" under its intoxicating influence! Wow!

The verb ""inquire" means to ask or consult ... with special reference to worship!  (Is Saul now selling himself to the devil?)  It also implies asking frequently, consistently.  (Was he looking for a "medium" to consult regularly?  Like maybe daily for a while?  But we now know Saul didn't have any days left! He will die tomorrow!  Did he just commit the "sin unto death?")

Also please note that the servants apparently did not have to "seek" her at all. Someone in Saul's employ immediately KNEW where a witch lived!  (Wrong companions and wrong counselors always lead to wrong decisions!)

And the woman lived at Endor!

Why, since Saul was already at Gilboa ... Endor was literally quite nearby!  Almost too close!

Isn't it strange that when someone decides to disobey God ... Satan often has a "trap" waiting in close proximity!

(When Jonah got to Joppa ... there just "happened" to be a ship ready to sail him away from God's will!  An old preacher used to say:  "When you get ready to run from God, the devil will gladly provide the transportation!")

Look at this.

We have covered one short verse ... and in so doing have "unearthed" several beneficial "nuggets" of truth!

Don't we have a wonderful Bible?

Come back tomorrow.  I can hardly wait for the next verse!

Please notice we are studying this text during Halloween month!

Stay away from anything that deals with the occult!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Our verse today adds detail to this developing account of sinfulness.

"And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee." 1 Samuel 28:8

Saul in disguise!

Sounds like Halloween!

The verb "chaphas" means to place oneself in a situation where he has to be searched for!  I think it would be hard for Saul to completely deceive others as to his identity ... simply because of his physical appearance!  " ... Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people." 1 Samuel 9:2

Notice also that this visit to the necromancer was "at night." ("And men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:19)

Sometimes even the Angel of Light works best in the dark it seems! (2 Corinthians 11:14 --- "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.")

The verb "pray" translates "amar" in Hebrew. That usually just means to speak or to say something.

However the verb "divine" is not so innocent! "Qasam" means to serve as a soothsayer or to act as a medium or to (as here) practice necromancy! (Contact with the dead!) This verb is here an imperative.  Saul just gave the woman a command!

Also the verb "bring up" (which translates "alah") means to cause to ascend or to cause to arise! (Samuel was in Abrahamís Bosom, the Old Testament counterpart of heaven ... which I believe was in the heart of the earth!) Therefore "bring him up" was a correctly worded command as far as geography is concerned! (But this whole "witch" business is strongly forbidden by God!)

Now it is obvious what Saul wants.

He longs to hear from Samuel! (He would not listen to this Prophet of God while he was alive ... but now wants to hear from him once heís gone!) Thatís so like sinful human nature!

Saul is hungry for some "counsel" or advice from a godly source.

But he is trying to get godly information in an ungodly manner!

The end does not justify the means ... especially if the means are forbidden of God!

Christian, stay away from the occult!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell







I just feel that a triple "caution" needs to be placed at the top of todayís "Home Page."

This is the month of October.

On the 31st day of this month is "Halloween!"

You will hear much about ghosts and spirits and witches and occult gadgets of all kinds.

Christian, stay away from them!

1st Samuel 28 tells us about King Saul, the rejected Monarch of Godís chosen people, visiting a real live "witch" to gain information about a coming battle!

Now I think Saul knew better than that.

He had read the Law of God!

And Exodus 22:18 is pretty plain: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

Look at Deuteronomy 18:10-11. "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his 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."

In fact 1st Samuel 28:9 tells us a lot.

"And the woman (the witch) said unto him (to the disguised Saul), 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?"

At some point in his reign Saul had outlawed witches in a definite way! He had done away with them. This is sure evidence that he viewed them skeptically at that earlier time in his reign.

BUT NOW ... the King has changed his mind (and his convictions) and is himself consulting with a "medium." That word has the idea of a go-between (medium) to help the living communicate with the dead!

The verb "cut off" means "to destroy or to consume!" He may have even had witches executed! This verb allows that meaning too.

The word for "familiar spirit" (in Hebrew = "ob") means at times: to mumble! (It may come from the root Hebrew noun for "father" ... "ab.")

With a totally different word ... the Hebrew idea of "meditating" is derived from a word that means to mutter or to mumble! (To go around all day mumbling Scripture to yourself!)

Maybe this witch daily mumbles under her breath curse after curse! She perhaps meditates constantly on "wickedness!"

And the noun "wizard" (in Hebrew = "yiddeoiny") means the knowing one! Supernatural satanic knowledge! Wow! Satan does NOT know everything ... but heís pretty intelligent! He knows a lot!

The verb "layest a snare" is a Hebrew term meaning to catch or to entrap (with a noose)! Those in the devilís service need to be careful of traps and snares!

The witch knew she could be executed! She said as much! "To cause me to die!"

For Saul to deliberately commit a sin that he already knew was wrong is doubly dangerous! James 4:17 makes that clear! "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."

And to start back (again) that which God has led one to quit is a little stupid too! (Put "foolish" in the place of that word "stupid" please!) Thatís like a dog returning to its vomit or a pig to its wallowing in the slop! See Proverbs 26:11 and 2 Peter 2:22 for these Bible "word pictures."

Saul had put his hand to the plow to rip witchcraft out of the land ... but he turned back! (Luke 9:62 says: "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.")

He was like the man who cleaned his house, expelling an evil spirit in the process ... only to allow it to return later with even more devils as companions! See Matthew 12 and Luke 11.

Hear me carefully now.

WE also need to be careful about going back on commitments we have made in the past!

If you have promised God that you would quit smoking ... and He gave you sweet victory over that habit ... I WOULD NOT LIGHT UP AGAIN!

If you have vowed to tithe your income ... I WOULD NOT PAY THE ELECTRIC BILL WITH YOUR CHURCH OFFERINGS!

If you have committed yourself to read the Bible through this year ... (better get busy) ... I WOULD NOT SUBSCRIBE TO THE TV GUIDE!

Keep your word!

Stand by your convictions!

Donít go back on past "lines" youíve drawn under Holy Spirit direction!

That is dangerous activity!

If you donít believe me, let me tell you this.

Within 24 hours of Saulís little visit to the witch, he was a dead man!




                                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




King Saul has made a tragic error, a fatal one in fact.

He is consulting with a medium, a witch, a necromancer (one who communicates with the dead ... or at least supposedly so)!

In our text today he seeks her services and she refuses initially. She fears punishment for this proposed wicked deed. The "King" (Saul is in disguise) has executed witches previously. She cannot run the risk!

Then notice what Saul says. It is a statement revealing perhaps the very ROOT of his spiritual problem.

"And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing."  1st Samuel 28:10

Look what Saul just did.

It would have been one thing for him to say: "The King will not hurt you one bit for bringing up this man Samuel!"  That might have been true. Or at least Saul could have truthfully so promised the woman!

BUT instead ... he speaks not just for himself ... but for GOD!

He implies that NO punishment will come to her, invoking Godís Name as he so declares!

He just suggested to her what God would NOT do ... punish her sin!


BUT ... this is not the first time Saul has stepped across Godís line of authority!

He has come to do so almost habitually!

The first time he assumes to speak or act unadvisedly for God is in 1 Samuel 13. Saul is preparing to fight the Philistines in Gilgal.  Samuel, the Prophet of God, has told him to wait there 7 days until he came to offer blood sacrifice prior to the battle (1st Samuel 10:8). Saul obeys to a point! By the 7th day, the Preacher still has not come. Saulís army is growing impatient and some are leaving the battle area. Can he afford to wait on Godís instructions? Saul reasons within himself: "No!" I must usurp the authority of the priesthood and offer sacrifice myself ... and quickly enjoin the battle! Then Scripture says: "And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering." (1st Samuel 13:9) No sooner had Saul done so ... and Samuel appeared! Saul overstepped his bounds! He did Godís thinking for Him! And for that he paid dearly! Listen to Samuel: "And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.  But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee." 1st Samuel 13:13-14

The next time he oversteps Godís boundaries I believe is in 1 Samuel 15. God told him to attack the people of Amalek, utterly destroying ALL of them. However, when the battle occurs Saul decides to spare the best of the sheep and livestock and the "prize" King Agag! He again did Godís "thinking" for Him! He stepped across that line! (When Samuel the godly Prophet came ... he hacked Agag to pieces!) The result of that little violation of Godly authority: Saul again is told that heís lost his very Kingdom!

So now we understand something a little better. From the start of his reign until the end of his reign ... Saul never was able to make himself respect the authority and power of God! He never stopped "crossing lines" God had drawn!

So ... when the "witch" says ... I canít have this "seance," Saul promises, on the authority of God Himself: "No harm will come to you!"

Saul lied!

He again crossed that line!

And God killed him the very next day!

What sober lessons today!

And for those of you who are saying that that "sin unto death" business is a bunch of legalism ... you had better read James 5 again! "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." James 5:16-17

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




1st Samuel 28:11 tells us more about King Saul's conversation with the "witch" of Endor.  "Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel." 

By using the verb "bring up" (in Hebrew = "alah"), the intention of Saul is made clear.  He wants the very spirit of Samuel to be brought back from its place of abode! Now the Old Testaments saints apparently went to "Abraham's Bosom" (Luke 16:22) or "paradise" (Luke 23:43) when they died.  Jesus further identified that place as being in "the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).

To bring forth Samuel from this Old Testament "heaven" would indeed involve "bringing him up."

When Saul tells the woman, "Bring me up Samuel," the verb is there an imperative. He commanded her to do so!  (No wonder she was so afraid!)

We have now come to the place in this Bible Study that we must decide some things.

This "seance" produced at least one of three things.

1. Either this was all a bunch of lying trickery on the part of the woman (which is what most of witchcraft is)!  That would make this whole account an act of deception toward Saul.

2. Or she really did contact a spirit ... but not Samuel's ... instead being that of a "demon" impersonating Samuel!  (Which is the exact case in many witchcraft situations!)

3. Or (at least in this one case) God simply intervened and brought Samuel back to give Saul one final message ... his death notice!

Preachers align themselves all along those three options.

So do the teachers and theologians.

I've (while preparing for this series of lessons) read commentaries that are for sure this is all fake!  And others who believe a demon has appeared.  And a few who believe that it really is Samuel ... allowed by a decree of God to return for one message to an apostate King!

Now, while each student must prayerfully make up his or her own mind, I have carefully come to the decision that this must be Samuel.

God has upset this whole process ... brought Samuel to Saul ... and had him preach the King's funeral sermon!

How very ironic!

Caution:  One reason you do NOT want to get into the world of the occult is that in reality is IS demonic and can lead one far astray from the truth!  And if you do get involved in a "fake" part of the whole business ... why give your life to lies?

Our verse today reveals another character trait of Saul's.

God has said "no message" to him again and again!

God has refused to answer him by prophet, by dream or even by Urim.  (1 Samuel 28:6 --- "And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.")

BUT stubborn Saul will not quit!

He WILL hear from heaven ... even if by dubious means!

(Samuel once called Saul "stubborn!"  1 Samuel 15:23 --- "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.")

Saul is going to hear from Samuel whether God likes it or not!

(By the way, for those of you who don't believe God would refuse to speak to someone.  Jesus, after His arrest, was sent to Herod for interrogation.  Read this Bible account:  "And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.  And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate." Jesus spoke not one word to Herod!  Jesus refused to speak to Herod!)

Well, whereas never before (and as far as I know never since) has God done this ... He supernaturally intervened here and (dispelling any trickery or demonism) allowed Samuel to return for a brief few minutes!

Saul got what he wanted!

Or did he?

He got his death message!

God here signs Saul's execution warrant!

His "sin unto death" plans are finalized by the Almighty!

In 1 Chronicles 10:13-14, the historical record of Saul's death, we are told:  "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; and enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse."

Sometimes is is just not best to get what you want, is it?

I am reminded of Psalm 106:15 --- "And he (our God)  gave them (the Jews) their request (fleshly lusts); but sent leanness into their soul."  Their achieved desires brought spiritual bankruptcy to their souls!

How very sad!

We had best just pray:  "Lord, Thy will be done!"

That's what Jesus did (and still does)!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Let's look at verse 12 today (of 1st Samuel 28).

"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."

A "seance" is occurring! (That's a French word.  It means a "sitting," or a consultation.  As early as 1845 it began to be used in an "occult" context.)

God forbids them.

BUT on this occasion ... something happens that scares this woman (the "witch") deeply!

She actually sees someone ... a personage whom she has been "calling up" from the grave!  (I'm sure that in all her previous "seances" she had either "faked" an appearance of some kind ...or had communicated directly with demons!)

But I believe here God has intervened miraculously and is allowing Samuel to return in spirit to give Saul his "death" notice!

The noun here for "woman" is the common Hebrew word "ishshah."  (The word for "man" is "iysh.")  You can see the kinship.

Here's a lady who is supposed to be a wife or a godly mom ... giving herself to the forbidden acts of sorcery.  What a waste of great potential!  (And this "witch" does have a motherly instinct.  She prepares a full meal for Saul just before he leaves her house!)  How very sad!  A truly "fulfilled" life is only found doing God's will!

The verb "saw" means she looked and perceived!  She KNEW someone bigger than herself had "taken over" the situation!

She also then knew that the King (Saul) was in her presence!  Apparently his desire to hear from Samuel was common knowledge among the necromancers!  If you can discern Samuel's identity (now dead) ... you can certainly discern Saul's (still alive for one more day)!

The verb "cried out" means to scream or to shriek loudly!  The verb is set as an "imperfect" in its sense of time, suggesting that she screamed a good bit before regaining her composure!  (Incomplete action!)

She then accused Saul of having "deceived" her!

Get this:  the deceiver herself (a witch) has just been deceived by another!

She just reaped what she had sown for years!

The verb "ramah" (to deceive) originally means to cast, shoot or hurl at someone!  In the Piel stem (as here) it means to mislead!  Sin always misleads!  And sin always hurts!  (Based on this verb ... picture sin as casting deadly poisonous darts at its victim!)

I'm telling you ... sin is a hard taskmaster!

Its wages are ... DEATH!  (Romans 6:23)

Again, here's my advice.

Stay away from the world of the mediums and witches and demons and fortune telling and spiritism.

Don't learn about them.  Don't mimic them.  Don't dress like them.  Avoid them!

God forbids such for the Christian!

                                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Today we will notice 1 Samuel 28:13.

A so-called "seance" is in progress.  "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." 

The name Saul means "desired" or "asked for!"  And here Saul is living up to the meaning of his name!  He is asking a "witch" to help him gain information from the dead!

How sad!

How wicked!

How very faithless!

He (Saul, the King) should have been on his knees begging Almighty God to help him in spite of all that has happened earlier!  (That would have been a thousand times better than asking counsel from a necromancer!)  God had already said:  "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his 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."  Deuteronomy 18:10-11

The word for "gods" is interesting.  It translates the noun "elohiym" and means gods, judges or even at times angels! 

Here obviously the woman thinks she has raised some kind of apparition ... a ghost ... either good or bad!

And that's exactly what a lot of this spirit-consulting is!  Contact with the world of demons!

Christians, stay away from it!

This situation with Samuel (if he really is brought back by God to deliver Saul his death message) is a one (and only one) time event in all the Word of God!

Today's mediums are NOT communicating with the dead!

They are either deceiving folks by the droves!

Or they are actually communicating with demons who may have known things about the departed person in question.

Again, Christian, avoid all that!

There IS a spirit world!

Today I predict that "atheism" as we have known it in the past generation will eventually die!  Atheists are a vanishing breed!  I guarantee you that!

No, mankind is not turning en masse to God Almighty!

But lost mankind is turning to the spirit world, the world of the occult, to the "do-it-your-own-way" religions of our time!

Instead of "no god" (atheism) ... man will soon be accepting "his own god!"  A "designer" god ... if you will allow me to use that term! 

Jehovah God, help us!

For me and my house ... we shall serve the Lord!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




As the "witch" of Endor "calls up" old Samuel ... a very interesting conversation begins!

Our verse today starts with a question which Saul asks the woman, apparently after realizing that she has really "seen" someone (or something)!

"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."  1st Samuel 28:14

The noun "form" translates a Hebrew word "toar" that means shape or outline or figure or appearance.  It is only used 15 times in the whole Bible!  (Of course, being a Hebrew word ... only the Old Testament would apply here!)

In its very declension (as found here) it is only used in Isaiah 52:14 of Jesus!  ("His visage was so marred more than any man, and his FORM more than the sons of men.")  While I certainly do not even understand the question I am asking here ... "Is there any way that Samuel could be a type of Christ?")

Its first Bible use is in Genesis 29:17 where we are told that Jacob's wife Rachel was a lovely young lady ... "beautiful and well favored."  The word "beautiful" literally is two Hebrew words meaning: of lovely form.

In Genesis 39:6 Joseph was a young man "GOODLY" and well favored also.

In Deuteronomy 21:11 it again describes a BEAUTIFUL woman!

It is used in reference to Abigal (David's wife) in 1 Samuel 25:3.  (And Esther in Esther 2:7 ... "fair!")

And is again describes the Messiah (Jesus) in Isaiah 53:2 --- "For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a Root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him."

Furthermore ... notice these details.

Samuel is correctly assessed to be an "old man!"  He was elderly when he died!

And look at Samuel's dress:  "covered with a mantle."  That's exactly how he dressed in real life!  That's according to 1 Samuel 15:27 --- "And as Samuel turned about to go away, he (Saul) laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent."

The verb "perceived" (in Hebrew = "yada") means to know (in varying degrees). Somehow Saul knew it was Samuel.  He has "sensed" his presence many a time before (in all their years together).

Next the King bowed to the ground!  He is apparently paying respect to the Man of God!  That's something he seldom (if ever) did to Samuel when he was alive!  The "passing" of the old preacher here seems to have increased Saul's sense of need for the things of God!  (We often don't properly value things ... until they're gone!)

In fact once Saul had 85 priests murdered  on one day!  (In 1st Samuel 22)  He had no respect for the men of God.

Now, don't misunderstand me.

I do NOT believe this is the result of a normal seance!

Witches (mediums) today do one of two things.  They deceive and fake spiritual phenomena.  Or they really contact demons ... who impersonate the dead.

I do NOT believe literal contact with the departed dead is an occurrence God allows today!

Our event here is apparently a one-time situation.

But I do believe Samuel returned (in spirit) and gave Saul one last sermon!  A sermon that included the King's death warrant!  He has obviously committed a "sin unto death."  (Or a series of sins ending in his premature death!)

Hear me again:  stay away from the occult.  Avoid spirit contact ... other than the precious Holy Spirit of God!

HE is all you need!

Paul encourages us believers to live in "the communion of the Holy Ghost!"  See 2nd Corinthians 13:14.

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




And just what did Samuel say to Saul?

As always, the man of God was right on "target."

Bold as ever, the Prophet Samuel speaks the truth to the King!

And (as is the test of Bible prophecy) what he said was fulfilled in precise detail!

He reaffirmed that God had "departed" from Saul!

How tragic!

And that the kingdom had been taken from Saul and given to David (due to Saul's blatant disobedience).

Then Samuel told the backslidden King that he would lose the battle (the next day) with the Philistines!

And ... that the King would die in the conflict!  (Along with his sons!)

Why all this now?

Why so suddenly?

Why this time frame?

I believe the answer is in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.  "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;  and enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse."

God killed him (at least partly) because of his little trip to the witch of Endor!

This fact alone should serve as a warning to Believers today!

Avoid the occult with a passion!

At Halloween ... have a "Bible Memory" party or something!  (Learn some Scripture about fighting the devil!)

If not that ... get a few friends together and study this 1st Samuel 28 text!

That will prove helpful any evening of the year ... especially October 31st!

(And since Halloween this year is on a Sunday ... a lot of "activity" problems should have already been solved!  Be in Church!)

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I took some time a few weeks ago and read a book that has some remote linkage to this 1st Samuel 28 text. 

Basically it told the history of "spiritism" in America.

I have typed for you here the dictionary explanation for "spiritism."  It is an accurate assessment: "The belief that the dead communicate with the living; spiritualism." Or, the practices or doctrines of those holding such a belief."

The Bible name for such activity is "necromancy."  ("The practice of supposedly communicating with the spirits of the dead, especially in order to predict the future. Black magic; sorcery")  The word "necromancer" is only used once in Scripture, Deuteronomy 18:11.

The Book I read discusses some of the leading proponents and practitioners of spiritism. (People like the infamous Fox Sisters, for example.)

It described "haunted" houses and communication with the supposed "dead" by means of sounds and noises ("wraps") and such!

Some of these proponents of spiritism and even some of the "witches" later admitted that much of what they did was "fake!"  Just plain old deceit!

Yet there was ample testimony of tables levitating (rising into the air) and voices speaking (demons I believe) and music playing and invisible "hands" taking over the "witch" writing messages to people! (The devil's "mimic" of inspiration no doubt!)

There IS a spirit world.  There ARE demons!  They are active in the lives of certain wicked people!

These are just a few more reasons why we Christians are to stay away from that activity ... or its very appearance!  1 Thessalonians 5:22 says --- "Abstain from all appearance of evil."

But here's what I wanted to say today.

Not only did many admit to deceit and fraud ... but others testified to the evil lifestyles spiritism can promote!

The immorality!

The immodesty!

The strong drink!

The hatred for the real things of God!

The denial of anything holy!

The lack of being able to form lasting relationships!

Unhappy marriages!

And ... usually ... the prevalence of misery in later life (if later life was ever reached)!

Early death was common for these adherents of spiritism!

Jesus said that we could know a tree by its fruit!  (Spiritism produces bad fruit!)

Scripture also says that "Wisdom is justified by her children!"  (Jesus said that too in Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:35.)

Here are the children of Godly Wisdom.  "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."  James 3:17

This Halloween keep the emphasis at your house on things pure and godly!

Avoid even the "hint" anything that deals with the occult!

You will be glad you did!  (If not here and now ... by and by for sure!)

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I kept reading about the "climate" in our country that precipitated a dramatic rise in "spiritism" during the mid 1800s.   By "spiritism" here I particularly mean supposed contact with the dead.

The authors who specialize in such literature assure us that history combined with sociology to bring about this phenomenon.

They say that catastrophic events which brought about thousands upon thousands of deaths (culminating in the American Civil War ... killing at least 500,000 people ... more than any of our other wars as a nation) helped bring about a national longing for "contact" with dead loved ones!

So ... here come the necromancers!

And they "faked" contact with dead relatives ... taking money from duped family members week after week!

Or else they sold themselves to the devil and began demonic communication with the world of darkness ... contacting demons who knew enough about the dead "friend" to mimic some of his or her traits!

How very wicked!

BUT I can assure you of this fact.  Biblically there is no evidence or promise of anyone again seeing or talking to a loved one who is now in heaven (or hell for that matter)!

Well, Preacher Bagwell, what can a grieving heart do then?



He will take care of all that!

You WILL see your saved loved ones again!

In fact, you will spend eternity with them!

Good news:  Jesus is coming again!

The following paragraph of Scripture is designed specifically to comfort those who are grieving over departed (saved) loved ones!

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-19

You do not need a witch or a seance or a vision from the grave!

You need Jesus!

He will reunite you with that dear heart you miss so much!

And, yes, I do believe we will know each other in heaven!  (Even in our glorified bodies!)

On the Mount of Transfiguration Peter, James and John instantly KNEW Moses and Elijah in their heavenly bodies!

Wait on Jesus!  He will make everything all right!

Psalm 27:14 --- "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I was wondering if Samuel might be a type of Christ ... even here in this 28th chapter of 1st Samuel!

I can't find much help with this idea ... the commentaries do not so describe Samuel.

But remember these things about him:

1. His birth was special!

2. He had a unique mother!

3. She gave him to God at an early age!

4. He was thrilled to go to the Temple!

5. He spoke messages well beyond his age!

6. He was a prophet, a priest and just as well say a king too!

7. He judged Israel many years!

8. Even after his death ... he came back to deliver one more message! (A Type of Resurrection)

9. His "return" from the grave ... frightened the devil (the witch)!

10. His "return" also disciplined the backslidden (Saul)!

11. His "return" proved his authenticity (via his very appearance ... an old man wearing his mantle ... and his fulfilled prophecy... Saul's death the next day)!

12. And some day we shall all meet old Samuel ... in that glorious city of God!

Why, one can even preach on the darkest day Saul ever lived (this visit to Endor) and in the background there is a glowing Type of the Lord Jesus Christ (Samuel, the man of God)!

He ... the dear Lord ... is indeed EVERYWHERE in Scripture!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




"Shunem," a city (mentioned in verse 4) where the Philistines gathered their forces for battle, was situated on fairly level (although gently sloping) ground I am told. That would have been good military strategy .... because they had chariots of war (which needed relatively flat ground).  However the Jews gathered at Gilboa, a more mountainous region which was less suited for battle!  (The Philistines here had the tactical advantage due to Saul's poor planning!  He even amassed his army in a bad place!)  When a man is not right with God does it affect other areas of his life too?  I think so!

In reference to God's intervening and using this woman with a familiar spirit to deliver a message to Saul ... remember that God can use anything or anyone.  He is almighty!  Read Ezekiel 14:7-8 here:  "For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:  And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD."  Although a prophet is consulted (likely a false prophet) ... God says that HE will answer!  This is exactly what happened to Saul!

Saul had great fear of the Philistines ... but little fear of God!

In times of great spiritual decay ... spiritism flourishes!  That was the case in Saul's day.  And it is still so today!

Superstitious demonic witchcraft preys on the discouraged, the troubled, the sick, the bereft, the bankrupt emotionally and the unbalanced!  Folks like this need Jesus and His love instead!

All the events of 1st Samuel 28 are predicated upon Saul's assumption that the Word of God is not sufficient!

Just as Saul could not wait earlier in his career ... he still can't wait to hear from God.  He must consult a witch!  (Apart from God's grace ... character just does not change!)

Here God over-rules all iniquity!  He commandeers the witch and all her deception! He allows Samuel to speak from the dead!

The same God intervened with Balaam ... and would not allow him to curse the Israelites!  (In fact, Balaam blessed the Jewish nation instead!)

Once wicked King Ahaziah sough counsel from Baalzebub (an idol) ... and God intervened there too ... with a message from Elijah!  (2nd Kings 1:2f)

Listen to what Saul said to Samuel:  "... and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more!"  (1st Samuel 28:5)   One old preacher said those were the five saddest words in the Bible:  "GOD IS DEPARTED FROM ME!"

When one departs from God ... expect anything!  If the Absolute is gone ... anything can happen!

When God departs ... all restraint against sin has left an individual!  (Genesis 20:6 proves that God can withhold us from sinning!)

What lessons 1st Samuel 28 has provided us!

May we "profit" from them all!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




It seems I just can't quit on this chapter!

This is written nearly a week after finishing this 1st Samuel 28 project!

Yet the dear Lord keeps giving me "thoughts" about it.

I was pondering this.  How can we keep from making the mistakes Saul made here? Deadly mistakes!

Here are my conclusions.

Saul (verse 4) chose a bad place for his army to camp.  The terrain did not match his army's fighting capabilities!  His mind was clouded!  Sin does that!  What can I do? Give my mind to the Lord each day!  Ask Him to help me thing aright!  David did! "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."  Psalm 19:14

Then Saul (a giant of a man) was afraid of the enemy!  He had a bad case of the "fear of man!"  What can I do?  I can fear the Lord!  (The fear of the Lord drives away the fear of man!)

Saul longs to hear from the Lord (verse 6).  His desire is to get some word from heaven!  BUT this desire came too late!  He had spurned and rejected all earlier words from the Almighty!  What can I do?  Keep my heart tender and open to any "word" from the Lord!  Study my Bible daily!  Stay alert and open to the things of God!

Then note how Saul tried to hear from the Lord.  Verse 6 says through "dreams, Urim and prophets."   Yet I see no mention of the bare and pure WORD OF GOD! What can I do?  Stay in the Book!  Realize that God speaks today through His Word! How highly does God value His Word?  The answer will surprise you:  "For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."  Psalm 138:2

Next Saul looked for a woman, a medium, a witch!  (Forbidden of God!)  What can I do?  I can also be enthralled with a women, a Bride ... the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!  Love the Church!  Be faithful to it!

They now look for a "familiar spirit."  Often this would be a demon!  (Here it may, via a miracle of God, have actually been the spirit of old Samuel allowed to return to give Saul his death announcement)!  What can I do?  Be possessed and filled with a Spirit too, the precious Holy Spirit of God!

Saul dressed in disguise on this occasion!  He faked his appearance!  He was deceitful (again).  He tried to be someone he wasn't!  He lacked "integrity."  What can I do?  Be sincere.  Be non-hypocritical!  Be who I really am!  Be honest!  The word "integrity" means whole or complete!  Not a two-faced person!

Saul committed his "sin unto death" this fateful night!  What can I do?  Make my nights count for God!  Nicodemus did!  Jesus did!  A number of the Psalms are designed just for evenings and bedtimes!  For example: Psalm 63:6 --- "When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."

Saul here even compromises his own standards!  He had before outlawed witches in accordance to the Word of God!  He now recants on this wise decision.  What can I do?  STAND on what I believe.  Don't go back!  Be true to my convictions!  Act on what I believe too!

Saul had one driving motive here --- to see and hear from Samuel!  What can I do to not overemphasize the dead?  Keep my eyes on Jesus!  He alone can bring our dead loved ones with Him when He returns to catch us away in the Rapture!  Until then I can rest assured that they are resting in Jesus ... glorifying Him in heaven above!

Saul made promises he could not keep!  He overstepped his authority (even as King) when he promised things that God would NOT do!  See verse 10.  What can I do? Keep my words within the confines of Scripture itself!  Avoid saying what God will or will not do ... without Bible warrant for such statements!

Lastly Saul was obsessed with one message:  How will I fight the Philistines tomorrow!  And of course he got one message:  You will die tomorrow!  What can I do?  Also stay focused on one message!  JESUS being the central focus of all I say and do!  HE is my Message!  Paul said Christ was his very LIFE!  Colossians 3:4 --- "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."

These are just some thoughts on HOW to avoid the tragic mistakes of Saul.

May we take them to heart!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




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