Did King Saul use a
WITCH to contact Samuel?

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Question: In the book of 1Samuel it states the witch of Endor conjured up the prophet Samuel for King Saul.  By whose power did she do this?  Was it by the power of God or the devil?

Answer:  The first question to ask is how did this first human king of Israel, selected by God and anointed by Samuel, get to a point where he would use the services of a witch? Although his rule started out well, he soon began to have troubles. He disobeyed God's law when he offered burnt and peace offerings before a battle, a responsibility given only to priests (1Samuel 13:7 - 14). His punishment for this action was that his descendants would not rule Israel.

Saul later disobeyed the Eternal and lied to Samuel when, instead of killing all the Amalekites and destroying all their possessions, he kept the evil Amalekite king alive and tried to take the best of the animals for himself (1Samuel 15:1 - 26). His punishment for this behavior was that God had now rejected him as king over his people. Additionally, the spirit of the Lord which was upon Saul was soon taken from him and he began to be troubled by an evil spirit (1Samuel 16:14). David soon rises in popularity (1Samuel 18:7), which leads Saul to fits of rage and revenge against him. Sometime later, just before a major battle with Israel's sworn enemy the Philistines, Saul's friend and mentor Samuel dies (1Samuel 28:3).

King Saul's attempts to consult God regarding his upcoming battle with the Philistines, through the accepted means of the Urim and the prophets, proved unsuccessful (1Samuel 28:6). Saul was now clearly a troubled, rejected man who desperately wanted counsel regarding what he should do next. It is at this point that he seeks to contact a dead Samuel through a woman who had a 'familiar spirit' - a witch of the city of Endor.

Saul disguised himself in order to meet with the witch. When he finally visited her in secret he asked her to contact the dead spirit of Samuel.

(Saul asked the medium) said to her. 'What do you see?' 'I see a spirit coming up from the earth,' she answered. 14 'What does it look like?' he asked. 'It’s an old man . . . He is wearing a cloak.' Then Saul knew that it was Samuel . . . (1Samuel 28:13 - 14)

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The vision that appeared to Saul through the Witch of Endor was NOT really Samuel. The Hebrew words for "medium", "spiritists" and so on is b'elowb, which means "possessing a familiar spirit." God spoke about what he thought about such people and warned others not to consult them.

Do not go for advice to people who consult the spirits of the dead. (Leviticus 19:31, see also 20:6)

27 Any man or woman who consults the spirits of the dead shall be stoned to death; (Leviticus 20:27)

He had Moses tell the children of Israel that it was the practices of the original inhabitants of the land of Canaan, such as human sacrifice, divination, sorcery, witchcraft and consulting the dead, that had cause Him to decide that the children of Israel would destroy this people out of their land and take it from them (Deuteronomy 18:9 - 14)

Although we are not told specifically that the witch of Endor was using the power of Satan to do her "consulting of the dead", we are told that she was possessed with a "familiar spirit", i.e., a demon, and by the scriptures quoted and many others, we know such things DO NOT come from God.

Whatever or whoever it was that Saul saw in his vision, it certainly was not Samuel for Samuel was dead (1Samuel 28:3). We also know that the dead "know nothing" and have no part "in any thing under the sun" (see Ecclesiastes 9:5 - 6).

Whatever or whoever it was that Saul saw in that vision, it (he) told Samuel that Israel was going to lose its battle, Saul and his sons would be killed, and Saul's kingdom would be handed over to David. That is exactly what happened (see 1Samuel 31:1-6; 2Samuel 1-5). God controls all things. Perhaps He controlled the vision that Saul saw, but I think it more likely that the demon in the witch of Endor took delight in taunting Saul, the King of Israel.

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