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1 Samuel 28 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Saul Talks with Samuel’s Ghost

28 1-3 Samuel had died some time earlier,[a] and people from all over Israel had attended his funeral in his hometown of Ramah.

Meanwhile, Saul had been trying to get rid of everyone who spoke with the spirits of the dead.[b] But one day the Philistines brought their soldiers together to attack Israel.

Achish told David, “Of course, you know that you and your men must fight as part of our Philistine army.”

David answered, “That will give you a chance to see for yourself just how well we can fight!”

“In that case,” Achish said, “you and your men will always be my bodyguards.”

The Philistines went to Shunem and set up camp. Saul called the army of Israel together, and they set up their camp in Gilboa. Saul took one look at the Philistine army and started shaking with fear. So he asked the Lord what to do. But the Lord would not answer, either in a dream or by a priest or a prophet. Then Saul told his officers, “Find me a woman who can talk to the spirits of the dead. I’ll go to her and find out what’s going to happen.”

His servants told him, “There’s a woman at Endor who can talk to spirits of the dead.”

That night, Saul put on different clothing so nobody would recognize him. Then he and two of his men went to the woman, and asked, “Will you bring up the ghost of someone for us?”

The woman said, “Why are you trying to trick me and get me killed? You know King Saul has gotten rid of everyone who talks to the spirits of the dead!”

10 Saul replied, “I swear by the living Lord that nothing will happen to you because of this.”

11 “Who do you want me to bring up?” she asked.

“Bring up the ghost of Samuel,” he answered.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed. Then she turned to Saul and said, “You’ve tricked me! You’re the king!”

13 “Don’t be afraid,” Saul replied. “Just tell me what you see.”

She answered, “I see a spirit rising up out of the ground.”

14 “What does it look like?”

“It looks like an old man wearing a robe.”

Saul knew it was Samuel, so he bowed down low.

15 “Why are you bothering me by bringing me up like this?” Samuel asked.

“I’m terribly worried,” Saul answered. “The Philistines are about to attack me. God has turned his back on me and won’t answer any more by prophets or by dreams. What should I do?”

16 Samuel said:

If the Lord has turned away from you and is now your enemy, don’t ask me what to do. 17 I’ve already told you: The Lord has sworn to take the kingdom from you and give it to David. And that’s just what he’s doing! 18 When the Lord was angry with the Amalekites, he told you to destroy them, but you didn’t do it. That’s why the Lord is doing this to you. 19 Tomorrow the Lord will let the Philistines defeat Israel’s army, then you and your sons will join me down here in the world of the dead.

20 At once, Saul collapsed and lay stretched out on the floor, terrified at what Samuel had said. He was weak because he had not eaten anything since the day before.

21 The woman came over to Saul, and when she saw that he was completely terrified, she said, “Your Majesty, I listened to you and risked my life to do what you asked. 22 Now please listen to me. Let me get you a little something to eat. It will give you strength for your walk back to camp.”

23 “No, I won’t eat!”

But his officers and the woman kept on urging Saul, until he finally agreed. He got up off the floor and sat on the bed. 24 Right away the woman killed a calf that she had been fattening up. She cooked part of the meat and baked some thin bread.[c] 25 Then she served the food to Saul and his officers, who ate and left before daylight.


  1. 28.1-3 earlier: See 25.1.
  2. 28.1-3 dead: Many people believed that it was possible to talk to spirits of the dead, and that these spirits could tell the future.
  3. 28.24 thin bread: Bread made without yeast, since there was no time for the bread to rise.

1 Samuel 28 New International Version (NIV)

28 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army.”

David said, “Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.”

Achish replied, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

Saul and the Medium at Endor

Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.

The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”

“There is one in Endor,” they said.

So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”

But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”

11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure[a] coming up out of the earth.”

14 “What does he look like?” he asked.

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and all that night.

21 When the woman came to Saul and saw that he was greatly shaken, she said, “Look, your servant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. 22 Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”

23 He refused and said, “I will not eat.”

But his men joined the woman in urging him, and he listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

24 The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast. 25 Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left.


  1. 1 Samuel 28:13 Or see spirits; or see gods
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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