The Bible is just amazing. And the power it has to speak into our lives daily is beyond anything you could plan. I am literally brought to tears today with the story of Saul, the cautionary tale, and the sad similarities I see around me.
Saul. He was appointed and anointed-by God. But for some time, he has been operating out of the will of God. He has gotten rid of anyone in his life that would bring conviction. However in doing so, he has also eliminated his connection to God and therefore His peace. He is without both, and desperate for answers and comfort.
In this chapter we are reminded that Samuel is dead and buried. Samuel was likely Saul’s last connection to what was right and noble and true. When he died, Saul had completely lost his way.
6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
This verse gave me chills. What a terrifying place to be. He had cut himself off from anything godly, and had gotten just what he wanted.
Now, in total despair and confusion, Saul was left to his own devices. So what did he do? He went back to the sin he knew.
When he was following God, Saul had established accountability. He had Samuel to keep him in check. And scripture tells us this:
And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.
Back when Saul was following God he had established safe guards in his life. He had actually banished all fortune tellers, mediums, and the like because they had no place in a godly kingdom.
But that was then. And this is now. He was anxiety ridden and desperate for answers. So he sought out a fortune teller. But notice the word used in this passage.
We all have things that are “familiar” to us, things that comfort. Comfort food. Comfort tv. Comfort conversation. Southern Comfort. You get the drift. When things get stressful, when your brain is in over drive, where do you turn for comfort?
Saul sought the things of this world to bring him peace. And the enemy was ready and waiting to take advantage of this exact moment.
Saul goes to a “fortune teller” to ask for advice. But he goes in disguise because no medium would admit to being just that to the king that expelled all mediums from the land. Not knowing with whom she is talking, she agrees to conjure up the Spirit of Samuel so Saul can ask him some questions about what to do now. This medium then conjures up a spirit disguised as Samuel. We know this is not really Samuel. Matthew Henry had this to say. And it just blew my mind.
We have here the conference between Saul and Satan. Saul came in disguise (1 Sam. 28:8), but Satan soon discovered him, 1 Sam. 28:12. Satan comes in disguise, in the disguise of Samuel’s mantle, and Saul cannot discover him. Such is the disadvantage we labour under, in wrestling with the rulers of the darkness of this world, that they know us, while we are ignorant of their wiles and devices.
You might need to read that again. This part:
Such is the disadvantage we labour under, in wrestling with the rulers of the darkness of this world, that they know us, while we are ignorant of their wiles and devices.
The devil’s tricks are not new. We should expect them. But we are distracted. And we forget that this fight is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness. And instead of fighting Satan, we fight each other. But I digress.
How do we know it’s a “fake” Samuel?
Matthew Henry had some more great insight!
Had it been the true Samuel, when Saul desired to be told what he should do he would have told him to repent and make his peace with God, and recall David from his banishment, and would then have told him that he might hope in this way to find mercy with God; but, instead of that, he represents his case as helpless and hopeless, serving him as he did Judas, to whom he was first a tempter and then a tormentor, persuading him first to sell his master and then to hang himself.
This is Satan’s typical technique. His calling card. He lures you into sin, into anxiety, into deception, and then, when you give in, he humiliates you and tells you that you are hopeless and worthless.
Saul sought comfort from that which was familiar. And in the end, it brought nothing but despair.
Saul did not have to have this ending. Maybe the reason that he heard nothing from God was because he already knew what he was supposed to do, yet he refused to do it. I once heard a pastor say that when you feel that God has become silent, think back to the last thing He told you to do, and do it. It is important to note that Saul was not the only one who endured the Lord’s silence. In fact this is one of my favorite Psalms, written by someone Saul knew quite well.
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
BUT……..Here is the difference. Here is David’s response to silence. Here is the response we need:
5 But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
I pray that we would seek God, and that even when He seems “silent,” I pray that instead of going to what seems “familiar” for comfort, that we would trust in His mercy, That our hearts would rejoice in His Salvation. That we would sing to the Lord. Because He Has Dealt Bountifully With Us! Amen!!