When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? (1 Samuel 28:5, 16 NIV)
Philistines vs Israel. Battles between the two appeared to be as regular as day following night. King Saul, however, on this occasion is terrified. What a contrast to the man who at the start of his reign was full of the Spirit and fury of God to defeat those who dared to defy and oppress the people of God.
Yet he has good reason to be terrified. His army no longer has its best warrior and now when he looks for guidance from God by the regular means, he gets silence. It’s bad news when you’re facing the enemy and God is giving you the silent treatment.
Desperate times calls for desperate measures and so emerges this fascinating episode of Saul consulting a medium – something he had outlawed. His efforts at disguise were not maintained for long. His request, though, highlights just how much in despair he finds himself. He calls for the man who anointed him. It’s amazing because not only is Samuel dead, but the last time Saul and Samuel conversed it saw him announce God rejecting him as King.
Reading this encounter is so intriguing. Here comes the ghostly apparition of the Prophet and Judge. He’s been bothered from his rest and the message he has for Saul only puts the final touch on the last thing he told him. Can you imagine getting the message that in a day’s time your life will be over? Can you also imagine that from a victorious start to the reign your end will be abject defeat? No wonder Saul reacted in laying down prostrate on the ground.
This is the state of a man rejected by God. As Samuel told him, if God has rejected you, there’s little point expecting much from someone who was His mouthpiece. A cautionary word for us to consider.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden