Copr. 1999, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references
(1 SAMUEL 28:3-20)
Introduction: We read and watch testimonials from people who
have had a "near death" experience and heard some exciting
revelation from the dead. Others tell us that they have
special methods by which they learned secrets from those who
died. One reason for spending so much time in past lessons
on the state of the dead was to provide a basis for arguing
that the dead do not communicate with us. If the dead do
not communicate with us, who is communicating with these
people? God? Angels? Aliens? Or, for the near death people,
is this the result of oxygen deprivation? Let's look at one
of the most interesting stories in the Bible to help us
solve this mystery!
I. THE WORD FROM ENDOR
A. Read 1 Samuel 28:3-6. When you have a difficult
problem or are afraid for the future do you turn to
1. That is what we are supposed to do, right?
2. If that is what we are supposed to do, why
didn't God answer Saul? What reasons can you
suggest?(D.F. Payne, in his commentary I & II
Samuel, page 142, says that Saul had long been
going his own way and bowing to nobody's
advice. Now he would have no one's advice.
We must make it a practice to turn to God and
follow His advice.)
B. What is the significance to the story that Samuel
has died? (Samuel was the one who gave the Lord's
messages to Saul. (See, for example, 1 Samuel 15:1-
C. By what means did Saul try to learn God's will in
our story? (He was looking for a dream, he inquired
of the High Priest (Urim) and he talked to
1. Are these means of learning God's will
available to us today?
2. Consider the general nature of these means of
communication. Will God personally give you a
message through a dream today?
3. The Urim and Thummim (see Exodus 28:30)were
the way in which God communicated His will
through the priests.
a. Is there any parallel means of
(1) Do you agree that a general parallel
today would be God giving you an
answer through your minister?
4. How can we learn God's will through prophets
today? (Prophets provide us with God's will
through their writings in the Bible or through
someone who has that spiritual gift.)
D. Read 1 Samuel 28:7. Is this what Saul should have
done? Does this reveal a commendable search for
God's will or does this reflect a character defect?
(This is more of the same sin that got Saul into
his current problem following his own will
instead of God's will. If God did not want to
speak to him, he should have accepted it and not
tried to force God to give him a message.)
1. Why did Saul look for a medium when (v.3) he
had expelled them all from the land? (Perhaps
in anger towards God he would try to
communicate in a way that he knew God forbad.
(Leviticus 19:31) Perhaps it was born from
desperation. Perhaps he felt he must talk to
Samuel, who had told him God's will in the
2. Do Saul's actions make any sense to you?
Could he force God to talk to him?
3. Who do you think Saul thought he was going to
speak to through a medium? (If he knew the
Torah, he would know this was detestable to
God. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) So Saul certainly
should not think he was going to speak to God.
God complains in Isaiah 8:19 that people
should consult Him instead of mediums. The two
are mutually exclusive.)
4. Let's pause at Deuteronomy 18:10-12 for just a
minute again. This seems to assume you can
talk to the dead?
a. Can you? Does this text prove you can?
E. Let's get back to our story to see if we can answer
this question of whether Saul was really speaking
to the dead. Read 1 Samuel 28:8-10. If Saul had
expelled all of the mediums from the land, how is
it his attendants know of this medium in Endor?
(This says something about the people he used as
1. What does the medium tell us is the penalty
for consulting a spirit? (Death.)
2. Why does the Bible put that detail into this
story? (We are reminded that Saul was running
all the red lights. Even the medium reminds
him that this is wrong by his own decree!
Notice that Saul swears by the living God that
he will not punish the medium! Isn't that
something? Taking an oath on God's name that
you will not obey God! It is obviously time
for a new king.)
F. Read 1 Samuel 28:11-16. We have more clues in our
debate on whether Samuel is really talking to Saul.
What reasons do we gather from these verses to
believe that this is not Samuel (besides the fact
that he is dead)?
1. Let's say that Samuel is in heaven? Would his
spirit come out of the ground? Is that the
direction of heaven? Would he still look like
an old man if he were in heaven?
a. Would he be in "great distress" (v.15) if
he were in heaven?
b. If Samuel was unconscious in death (as we
have studied this quarter), then "the
ground" is the right direction, but can
you suddenly become conscious for a little
2. What do you think about "Samuel's" first
words? From what is Saul disturbing him?
a. Checkers at the retirement home for the
b. Perpetual sleep?
c. If he were in heaven, wouldn't he be
anxious to communicate God's will? If he
were in heaven, would he in essence be
saying, "Go away kid, you bother me?"
3. If this were really Samuel, God's faithful
servant, would he speak to Saul when he is
expressly on notice (v.15) that God has
refused to answer Saul? (This is the strongest
proof that this is not Samuel. If it were, he
would be engaged in the same sin as Saul
refusing to follow God's will. Going around
God. Further, if this were really Samuel, his
first words would not be that Saul was
G. Read 1 Samuel 28:17-20. What does "Samuel" mean
when he says (v.19) "tomorrow you and your sons
will be with me?" (That Saul and his sons would
1. Was this a true prophecy? (Yes. Read 1 Samuel
2. Where, precisely, was "Samuel" that he should
say that Saul would be with him?
3. Remember that in 1 Samuel 28:16, "Samuel"
tells Saul that he is God's enemy? If this is
Samuel, will God's enemies be in heaven?
a. What about Saul's son Jonathan? According
to v.16, he too is with "Samuel?" (The
Bible never says anything bad about
Jonathan. 1 Samuel 14 records one of the
most remarkable acts of faith and trust in
God when Jonathan and his armor-bearer
"single-handedly" beat the entire
Philistine army in combat.)
(1) Tell me what you think is going
through Jonathan's mind in these last
days and hours? (This is precisely
the kind of situation in which God
and he had previously formed a team
and prevailed. He is now dying, not
because of any sin on his part, but
because of the sin of his father.
Worse, he is dying to give way to
David. It is worthwhile to read the
surrounding chapters in 1 Samuel
because it reveals that David is
hardly a model for doing God's will
at this time because he tells the
Philistines he is willing to fight
against Saul, Jonathan and his own
people! I think this is a real test
of Jonathan's faith.)
H. We obviously have a fulfilled prophecy in the death
of Saul and his sons. Can the Devil predict the
1. Does this modify your thinking on who is this
"Samuel?" (I can't predict the future, but I
can give a pretty good guess on some things.
Look again at v. 17. The Devil knew what
Samuel had prophesied to Saul. He also knew
that God was not answering Saul. He also knew
the odds of Saul winning this battle without
God's help. So, it was not much of a stretch
to figure out that Saul had come to the end of
the line. My vote is that Satan is speaking to
Saul through "Samuel.")
a. How would Satan know that David's sons
would also die? (The same verse (17) says
that the throne would go to David. This
should not happen unless Saul's sons were
all dead. Thus, the Devil could have also
picked this up from Samuel's prior
prophecy to Saul.)
I. Read 1 Samuel 28:20 again. What effect do you think
Saul's mental attitude had on his chances of
winning the battle the next day?
A. If you were to consult a medium, to whom do you
think you would be talking?
B. Would it be best to avoid this, even though the
medium, might, like "Samuel," correctly tell you
what will happen in the future? (Read Acts 19:13-
17. These evil spirits are allies of Satan if not
Satan himself. (See Matthew 8:16) They only have
our destruction in mind. We should flee these
kinds of situations.)
C. Are we better off knowing the future? Was Saul
better off knowing the future?
1. Do you think that Saul really knew the future,
he was just hoping that God would talk to him
and give him a way out?
D. Friend, the destruction of Saul was gradual. He
turned away from God little by little until he was
willing to violate God's direct commands. His fate
was sealed. Pray that you will not turn away from
God. That you will constantly seek God as opposed
to Satan and his allies.
III. NEXT WEEK: ENCOUNTER