Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
There are sincere Christian people who believe that man is by nature immortal. They think that the story of the witch of Endor tells the truth that "Samuel" was still conscious after the Bible says he died. "Look," they say, "1 Samuel 28 says that 'the woman saw Samuel,' and that 'Samuel spoke to Saul,'" saying this and that (vss. 12-19). So, these people say, "this proves that even though Samuel was dead, he was still alive somehow."
But look again and see what this so-called "Samuel" had to say to poor King Saul. The harried king was already nearly distraught with fear because of the impending battle with the Philistines. He had been praying to the Lord and got no answer; did this so-called "Samuel" bring him any message of Good News? No, this "spirit" said precisely what Satan would say to any discouraged soul: you've had it, there is no hope for you! Take your own life!
God Himself never tells that to anyone. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9). If in this extremity with the Philistines, King Saul had called for a prayer meeting and invited David (who by the way was a true prophet of God) to come and join them in solemn prayer, the true God of Israel would have responded to save Israel, as He had always done. But King Saul actually invited the devil to guide him and the nation!
This so-called "Samuel" harassed and tortured a helpless human being and drove him to utter despair by recounting all his sins and mistakes so as to overwhelm him and drive him to suicide. No, that is not what any true messenger from God does to anyone; He never drives anyone to despair! 1 Samuel 28 calls this evil spirit "Samuel" only because the witch thought it was he, and King Saul believed her.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 17, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."