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28 Then it came time for the Philistines to gather their forces to go to war against the people of Israel, and Achish spoke to David.

Achish: Of course you and your men will join us in the coming fight.

David: Good. You will see what your servant can do in battle.

Achish: Excellent. You will be my bodyguard as long as I live.

Remember, Samuel had died some time previously and had been mourned by all of Israel. He was buried in his hometown of Ramah, and his wisdom died with him.

Another important thing to know: Saul had ordered all of the mediums and any others who claimed to speak to the dead thrown out of Israel.

The Philistines gathered for war, and they made their camp at Shunem. Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul looked out over the forces of the Philistines, he was filled with fear and lost his confidence. Saul asked the Eternal for guidance, but He did not give him an answer, neither in dreams nor by consulting the Urim nor through prophecy.

This is simultaneously one of Saul’s greatest offenses against God and one of the times when he is a sympathetic character. As he comes to battle the Philistines, he has been cut off from any contact with God. It must seem as though everyone conspires against him, that he is all alone in the world; so, against his own decree forbidding such a thing, he consults a medium who can speak to the dead, a dark practice according to Hebrew law.

Saul (to his servants): Find me a woman, a spiritual medium—someone I can ask for guidance.

Servants: A spiritual medium lives in En-dor.

So Saul disguised himself in different clothes, and taking two men with him, he went to see this woman in the dark of night.

Saul: I need you to call up someone from the grave—I’ll tell you who—so I can ask him questions.

Medium of En-dor: Don’t you know what Saul has decreed? You should know that he has thrown all the mediums and all others who speak for the dead out of Israel. Why are you asking me to risk my life?

Saul (swearing by the Lord): 10 Nothing bad will happen to you. I promise.

Medium of En-dor: 11 Whom do you want me to bring up from the dead for you?

Saul: I need to speak with the prophet Samuel.

12 The medium began her rituals, but when she began to see Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice, realizing that her customer was Saul.

Medium of En-dor: Why have you lied to me? You’re really Saul!

Saul: 13 Don’t be frightened. Nothing will happen to you. Just tell me, what do you see?

Medium of En-dor: I see someone who looks like a divine being rising out of the ground!

Saul: 14 Describe him for me.

Medium of En-dor: An old man is coming, wrapped in a robe.

Saul knew this was Samuel, and he dropped to the ground, putting his face to the floor.

Samuel (to Saul): 15 Why have you disturbed me by calling me up from the land of the dead?

Saul: I don’t know what to do! The Philistines have gathered against us, and the True God has turned His back on me. He won’t answer me in dreams or by prophecy, so I’ve summoned you for advice.

Samuel: 16 Saul, why do you ask me what to do since you know the Eternal One has turned against you and is now your enemy? 17 He has done to you exactly as He told you through me, for He has wrestled the kingdom away from you in order to give it to your neighbor, David. 18 You did not obey the Eternal One’s orders to be an agent of His wrath on Amalek. That is why He has brought these circumstances upon you today. 19 And that is not all. He will hand you and your kingdom over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will be where I am. The Eternal One will hand your entire army over to the Philistines.

20 When Saul heard Samuel’s words, he collapsed to the ground in terror and weakness, for he had not eaten all day and all night. 21 The woman came to him, and she saw that he was filled with fear.

Medium of En-dor: Your servant has done what you asked. I have risked my life to do it. 22 Now, please, listen to your servant. Have something to eat before you go. Eat what I offer you, so you can leave with some strength.

Saul: 23 No, I won’t eat anything.

His servants joined her in urging the king to eat, and at last he listened to them. He rose from the ground and sat on the bed. 24 The woman took a fatted calf, slaughtered it, and prepared it. She took flour, kneaded it, and baked unleavened bread. 25 When the food was ready, she served it to Saul and his servants, and they ate it before they departed that night.

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