Witchcraft in 1 Samuel 28

Since necromancy was forbidden in ancient Israel, how can The Witch of Endor, found in 1 Samuel 28, be explained?

The Kings of Israel according to the law had banned all forms of sorcery throughout the realm of Israel since they violated God’s sovereignty (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:10-11). God’s Spirit had left Saul long before the incident when he visited the witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28.

That was the whole point of going to visit a sorceress. The kings of Israel enjoyed communication with God, asking him whether or not he would give their enemies into their hand if they would go up after them.

But once the Spirit of God lifted off of Saul and began to rest on David, so no longer enjoyed his communication with God (1 Samuel 28:6). So he did the next best thing he could think of. Because he couldn’t even go and talk to Samuel after his death, he decided to ask the sorceress to bring Samuel up from the grave (1 Samuel 28:7).

If you look closely at the text of 1 Samuel 28, you will see that the witch refuses to do what Saul asks, citing that Saul himself has banned this practice in all of Israel (1 Samuel 28:3, 9). Only after Saul promises she won’t be punished does she continue. This sorceress didn’t even know it was Saul until the vision came to her (1 Samuel 28:12).

So although the law forbade sorcery in the land of Israel and the kings made sure to enforce this law, Saul feels he must turn to sorcery to call up Samuel from the dead so he can ask him advice on whether or not to fight the Philistines.

We must not think we can lead a life of sin and look to other sources than God for spiritual counsel. This doesn’t end well for Saul who ends up committing suicide on the battlefield. It will not end well for us if we rely on other sources of counsel. It is much better to make amends with God and receive his counsel.

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