If Samuel had given such a message during his life, we would consider it a message from God. However in these strange circumstances, it seems impossible that the message could be from God. Saul received this message by means of a woman whom an evil spirit controlled. Such spirits may sometimes speak the truth (Mark 1:24; Mark 3:11; Acts 16:17), but their message is never good (Mark 1:25; Mark 3:12; Acts 16:18). They try to confuse people so that those people will not turn to God.
The facts that appear in this message were in fact correct. The history in it is well-known to everyone who has studied the Book of 1 Samuel. God turned from Saul because Saul first turned from God (15:26). As Saul had torn Samuelís coat, so God would take away Saulís rule by force (15:27-28). Saul already knew that David would be Israelís next king (23:17). These things would happen because Saul did not obey God during the war against Amalek (1 Samuel chapter 15).
It was also clear to Saul what would happen during the battle on the next day. During Saulís rule, he had constantly led his army in battles against Philistia. He knew that Philistiaís leaders had made their plans with great skill on this occasion. He could see the sizes of the two armies. He also knew that God would not support him. For all those reasons, terror had filled Saulís mind (28:5). This message insisted that all Saulís fears were right. Israel would suffer a great defeat; Saul and his sons would die.
Saul had hoped to gain confidence from a meeting with Samuel. In fact, this strange experience had the opposite effect. Now Saul was more afraid than ever.
Next part: Saulís last meal (1 Samuel 28:20-25)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.