1 Samuel 14:36-42 describes a previous occasion when God refused to answer Saulís prayer. On that occasion, the reason was that one of Israelís soldiers had carried out an evil deed (compare Isaiah 59:1-2). Saul realised that fact at once. He then asked God to show him who was responsible.
On this later occasion, God had again refused to answer Saulís prayer, and Saul felt desperate. Now, Saul did not need to ask who was responsible for this situation. Saul himself had chosen not to obey God, and he was living in a very wicked manner.
Although Saul was not willing to obey God, he was praying. He needed Godís help for his next battle against Philistiaís army. Saul could see that the battle would be one of the most important battles in Israelís history. He was desperate for support from God.
For that reason, Saul made an extraordinary and terrible decision. He could not, of course, force God to speak to him. However, Saul believed that he could force one of Godís prophets (Israelís holy men) to speak to him. In particular, Saul wanted Samuel, who had often declared Godís messages to Saul in the past, to speak to him. As Godís servant, Samuel had authority to speak on behalf of God.
Samuel had been dead for two years, but that fact did not stop Saul. By means of witchcraft (magic), some people claim to have power over spirits and to contact dead people. The Bible considers witchcraft to be a very wicked act, witchcraft is against Godís law (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 1 Samuel 15:23).
On the night before the battle, Saul sent his men to find someone who used witchcraft. They found such a woman in Endor. To get there, Saul had to follow a long and dangerous route. He actually had to go round to the other side of his enemiesí camp. That fact shows how desperate he was.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.