1Sa 28: "The man [Saul, whom] David honoured as 'Yahweh's
Anointed' had a vacillating life, reaching great heights and depths in his
pitiful path of duty. But now Saul's experiences provide a closing tragic
chapter in a life of failure. It is the rush of a desperate man unable to see
the way to redeem himself, and to obtain the divine blessing. He becomes clouded
in personal despondency, and seeks the folly of a witch's deception. Having by
his own confession 'played the fool' (1Sa 26:21), Saul now reaps the result of
such actions. It is against the background of national distress. So:  War is
declared: vv 1,2.  Saul's dilemma: vv 3-6.  Saul's tragic mission: vv
7-14.  Saul's fate foreshadowed: vv 15-20.  The woman ministers to Saul's
need: vv 21-25.
"It was a fearful journey that dark night as Saul went beyond
the Philistine camp in his urgent need for some solution. The Philistines were
encamped in Shunem, directly between Gilboa and Endor. Such a visit under such
conditions was perilous in the extreme, and nothing could have induced Saul to
venture thither, but the agony of despair and complete despondency. But if he
left in agony, how great was his despair as he returned to take up his post with
his worst fears confirmed. Yahweh had closed His ears to the king; whilst Saul
turns to a witch of Endor -- a woman whose occupation was anathema to the divine
righteousness. Saul was governed by a false idea of religion. Like Cain he
sought to frustrate the wisdom of Yahweh, and in so doing not only found the
depths of misery, but faced the day of his death" (GEM).
I WILL MAKE YOU MY BODYGUARD FOR LIFE: Lit "the keeper
of my head" (as AV). Double meaning, as it turns out: Just like David had "kept"
HE INQUIRED OF THE LORD: What looks to be a
contradiction may be explained by recourse to the meaning of the underlying
Hebrew words. In 1Ch 10:14, we are told that Saul "did NOT inquire of the LORD",
whereas in 1Sa 28:6, we are told that he DID "inquire". The explanation is
fairly simple: (1) The word translated "inquire" in 1Ch 10:14 is "darash", which
signifies "to follow after, and especially to worship". (2) The word translated
"inquire" in 1Sa 28:6 is "shaal", which signifies "to request, or (even) to
demand" (incidentally, it is related to the meaning of the name "Saul"). So,
Saul did "inquire" of the LORD in making requests or demands (1Sa 28:6), but he
did NOT "inquire" of the LORD in the sense of truly seeking after Him (1Ch
10:14)! (However, Saul DOES "seek out diligently"... the Hebrew "darash"... the
witch of Endor: 1Sa 28:7!)
THE LORD DID NOT ANSWER HIM: God does not answer one
"in covenant" (here). And He does answer one not "in covenant" (Act
A literal interpretation? Difficulties:
Would God answer Saul by a means which
His own Law forbids (Deu 18:10-12)? Cp Exo
Saul is condemned for this very
action (1Ch 10:13).
Or... a fake spiritualistic séance?:
Saul would have been easily recognized, being so tall (1Sa 9:2).
promising no punishment (v 10), Saul would have identified himself.
nothing (vv 12-14).
"An old man wearing a robe is coming up" (v 14): And
this was all it took for Saul to believe it was Samuel!
What about the
"prophecy" of Saul's death?: An easy inference, from Samuel's prophecy of 1Sa
15, and Saul's evident loss of morale in face of Philistine
DISQUIETED: The word is used of awakening -- in this
case awakening from the "sleep" of death: Job 3:17; Ecc 9:5,10; Joh
TOMORROW YOU AND YOUR SONS WILL BE WITH ME: Where would
they all be, to be together?