Inquired not of the Lord - On these two last verses the Targum speaks thus: "And Saul died for the transgression by which he transgressed against the Word of the Lord, and because he did not keep the commandment of the Lord when he warred against the house of Amalek; and because he consulted Pythons, and sought oracular answers from them. Neither did he ask counsel from before the Lord by Urim and Thummim, for he had slain the priests that were in Nob; therefore the Lord slew him, and transferred the kingdom to David the son of Jesse."
A Literary friend furnishes the following remarks: -
"The sacred writer, in the first book of Samuel, 1 Samuel 31:11-13, and 1 Chronicles 10:11, 1 Chronicles 10:12, after relating the defeat and death of Saul, and the ignominious treatment of his remains, thus concludes: -
"'And when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, from the wall of Beth-shan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there; and they took the bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.'
"Often has this account been read with admiration of the bravery and devotedness of the men of Jabesh-gilead, but without considering that these men had any greater cause than others for honoring the remains of their sovereign; but, on reflection, it will be perceived that the strong impulse of gratitude prompted them to this honorable exertion. They remembered their preservation from destruction, and, which to brave men is more galling, from bearing marks of having been defeated, and being deprived of the honorable hope of wiping off disgrace, or defending their country at future seasons.
"Reading these verses in conjunction with the attack of Nahash, we perceive the natural feelings of humanity, of honorable respect, prompting the men of Jabesh to act as they did in rescuing the bones of Saul and his family.
"The father of Grecian poetry relates in how great a degree the warriors of ancient days honored the remains of their leaders; how severe were the contests for the body of the fallen chief, more determined oftentimes than the struggle for victory: this point of military honor was possibly excited or heightened by the religious idea so prevalent in his age, and after times, respecting the fate of the spirits of those who were unburied.
"Homer wrote of events passing at no distant period from those recorded in the first volume of Samuel; and these accounts mutually corroborate each other, being in unison, not only with the feelings of humanity, but with the customs of ancient nations. These may be farther illustrated by comparing the conduct of the Philistines with regard to Saul and his sons, with that of the hero of the Iliad towards Hector, the most finished character of the poem. Saul had been a severe scourge to the Philistines throughout a long series of years; the illustrious chief of Troy had long warded off the ruin of his country, and destroyed the flower of her foes, independently of his last victory over Patroclus, which drew on his remains that dishonor which, however, fell only on his destroyer.
"Should the siege of Troy be considered a fable, it may then be concluded that Homer introduced into his poems the customs and manners known to those for whose perusal he wrote, if these customs were not prevalent among his readers; but anxiety for the body of the illustrious dead, or regret for his death, has often caused success when all exertions prior to this powerful stimulus have not availed; and this even in our days.
"The Philistines had long been confined to the southwest angle of the promised land, and in the earlier part of Saul's reign had suffered many and severe losses; yet it appears by this chapter that, alone or in conjunction with allies, they had been able to penetrate nearly to the banks of the Jordan, to fight the battle on Mount Gilboa. This could only have been effected by a march through great part of the kingdom of Israel.
"Doubtless the attention of Saul in its defense might have been greatly distracted by his pursuit and fear of David, which appeared to have absorbed his whole mind; and it may account for the defenceless or weakened state of his forces.
"These circumstances appear to corroborate the authenticity of these books, independently of the many private transactions therein recorded; particularly the interesting and singular friendship of Jonathan and David, a transaction not likely to occur to a forger of a narrative. J.W."
Vilest License, Despair, and Ruin—The demon's message to Saul, although it was a denunciation of sin and a prophecy of retribution, was not meant to reform him, but to goad him to despair and ruin. Oftener, however, it serves the tempter's purpose best to lure men to destruction by flattery. The teaching of the demon-gods, in ancient times, fostered the vilest license. The divine precepts condemning sin and enforcing righteousness, were set aside; truth was lightly regarded, and impurity was not only permitted, but enjoined. Spiritualism declares that there is no death, no sin, no judgment, no retribution; that “men are unfallen demigods”; that desire is the highest law; and that man is accountable only to himself. The barriers that God has erected to guard truth, purity, and reverence, are broken down, and many are thus emboldened in sin. Does not such teaching suggest an origin similar to that of demon worship?—The Signs of the Times, June 30, 1890. Ev 608.1
Mystic Voices, Mediums, Clairvoyants, and Fortune-tellers—The mystic voices that spoke at Ekron and Endor are still, by their lying words, misleading the children of men. The prince of darkness has but appeared under a new guise. The heathen oracles of ages long past have their counterpart in the spiritualistic mediums, the clairvoyants and fortune tellers of today. The mysteries of heathen worship are replaced by the secret associations and seances, the obscurities and wonders, of the sorcerers of our time. And their disclosures are eagerly received by thousands who refuse to accept light from the Word or the Spirit of God. They speak with scorn of the magicians of old, while the great deceiver laughs in triumph as they yield to his arts under a different form. Ev 608.2
These Satanic agents claim to cure disease. They attribute their power to electricity, magnetism, or the so-called “sympathetic remedies,” while in truth they are but channels for Satan's electric currents. By this means he casts his spell over the bodies and souls of men.—The Signs of the Times, March 24, 1887. Ev 609.1Read in context »
But none need be deceived by the lying claims of spiritualism. God has given the world sufficient light to enable them to discover the snare. As already shown, the theory which forms the very foundation of spiritualism is at war with the plainest statements of Scripture. The Bible declares that the dead know not anything, that their thoughts have perished; they have no part in anything that is done under the sun; they know nothing of the joys or sorrows of those who were dearest to them on earth. GC 556.1
Furthermore, God has expressly forbidden all pretended communication with departed spirits. In the days of the Hebrews there was a class of people who claimed, as do the spiritualists of today, to hold communication with the dead. But the “familiar spirits,” as these visitants from other worlds were called, are declared by the Bible to be “the spirits of devils.” (Compare Numbers 25:1-3; Psalm 106:28; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Revelation 16:14.) The work of dealing with familiar spirits was pronounced an abomination to the Lord, and was solemnly forbidden under penalty of death. Leviticus 19:31; 20:27. The very name of witchcraft is now held in contempt. The claim that men can hold intercourse with evil spirits is regarded as a fable of the Dark Ages. But spiritualism, which numbers its converts by hundreds of thousands, yea, by millions, which has made its way into scientific circles, which has invaded churches, and has found favor in legislative bodies, and even in the courts of kings—this mammoth deception is but a revival, in a new disguise, of the witchcraft condemned and prohibited of old. GC 556.2
If there were no other evidence of the real character of spiritualism, it should be enough for the Christian that the spirits make no difference between righteousness and sin, between the noblest and purest of the apostles of Christ and the most corrupt of the servants of Satan. By representing the basest of men as in heaven, and highly exalted there, Satan says to the world: “No matter how wicked you are; no matter whether you believe or disbelieve God and the Bible. Live as you please; heaven is your home.” The spiritualist teachers virtually declare: “Everyone that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” Malachi 2:17. Saith the word of God: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.” Isaiah 5:20. GC 556.3Read in context »
The Scripture account of Saul's visit to the woman of Endor has been a source of perplexity to many students of the Bible. There are some who take the position that Samuel was actually present at the interview with Saul, but the Bible itself furnishes sufficient ground for a contrary conclusion. If, as claimed by some, Samuel was in heaven, he must have been summoned thence, either by the power of God or by that of Satan. None can believe for a moment that Satan had power to call the holy prophet of God from heaven to honor the incantations of an abandoned woman. Nor can we conclude that God summoned him to the witch's cave; for the Lord had already refused to communicate with Saul, by dreams, by Urim, or by prophets. 1 Samuel 28:6. These were God's own appointed mediums of communication, and He did not pass them by to deliver the message through the agent of Satan. PP 683.1
The message itself is sufficient evidence of its origin. Its object was not to lead Saul to repentance, but to urge him on to ruin; and this is not the work of God, but of Satan. Furthermore, the act of Saul in consulting a sorceress is cited in Scripture as one reason why he was rejected by God and abandoned to destruction: “Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; and inquired not of the Lord: therefore He slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.” 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14. Here it is distinctly stated that Saul inquired of the familiar spirit, not of the Lord. He did not communicate with Samuel, the prophet of God; but through the sorceress he held intercourse with Satan. Satan could not present the real Samuel, but he did present a counterfeit, that served his purpose of deception. PP 683.2Read in context »
Saul knew that in this last act, of consulting the witch of Endor, he cut the last shred which held him to God. He knew that if he had not before wilfully separated himself from God, this act sealed that separation, and made it final. He had made an agreement with death, and a covenant with hell. The cup of his iniquity was full (The Spirit of Prophecy 1:376, 377). 2BC 1023.1
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Saul knew that in this last act, of consulting the witch of Endor, he cut the last shred which held him to God. He knew that if he had not before willfully separated himself from God, this act sealed that separation, and made it final. He had made an agreement with death and a covenant with hell. The cup of his iniquity was full. 4aSG 85.1
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Saul was faint with weariness and fasting; he was terrified and conscience-stricken. As the fearful prediction fell upon his ear, his form swayed like an oak before the tempest, and he fell prostrate to the earth. PP 681.1
The sorceress was filled with alarm. The king of Israel lay before her like one dead. Should he perish in her retreat, what would be the consequences to herself? She besought him to arise and partake of food, urging that since she had imperiled her life in granting his desire, he should yield to her request for the preservation of his own. His servants joining their entreaties, Saul yielded at last, and the woman set before him the fatted calf and unleavened bread hastily prepared. What a scene!—In the wild cave of the sorceress, which but a little before had echoed with the words of doom—in the presence of Satan's messenger—he who had been anointed of God as king over Israel sat down to eat, in preparation for the day's deadly strife. PP 681.2
Before the break of day he returned with his attendants to the camp of Israel to make ready for the conflict. By consulting that spirit of darkness Saul had destroyed himself. Oppressed by the horror of despair, it would be impossible for him to inspire his army with courage. Separated from the Source of strength, he could not lead the minds of Israel to look to God as their helper. Thus the prediction of evil would work its own accomplishment. PP 681.3Read in context »