The philistines prepare to attack the Israelites, with David, convincingly a traitor, bizarrely as the philistine king’s bodyguard. Saul facing the enemy encampment is deserted by God and terrified.
He has banned and purged all witches and mediums. But in desperation he consults one anyway. She summons up the spirit of Samuel. Its all very dramatic, but spirit Samuel doesn’t say anything at all remarkable or new in this scene: Saul is stuffed. He will die. He confirms Saul’s dread.
The portrait of the witch is sympathetic. She forces him to take some food despite his refusal, she goes above and beyond in generosity.
God is supernatural after all. She may have been faking Samuel’s appearance, but it may have been real, doesn’t really matter. As so often the message from the other side is the same as the message on this side. The wise men found Jesus by astrology. It works, and sometimes its the only religion people know.
I think issue with mediums is not always that they are fake, its that its an unnecessary way to approach the supernatural that avoids god’s spirit. Like a back door to the spiritual for people avoiding God. God is in our hearts, just pray! I’m sure the devil is happy to talk with people attracted to him, but his overriding aim is your destruction.
Saul is in denial. When confronted, we’ve seen him acknowledge David’s state of grace and bless it, but rebellion against God’s choice keeps overwhelming him.
It is tempting to see it as unfair that God deserted him even though he so desperate for spiritual guidance. But I don’t think God deserted him.
He’s literally living the old “two ways to live” pamphlet they used to hand out: he’s clinging to his kingship, and denying God’s. It’s not that he doesn’t know God’s will, he just doesn’t like it. So he keeps asking, like there might be a different answer if he asks a different way.
Its a good idea when tempted to pray “why won’t you answer me God?” to ask yourself if in truth he already has.
Two great sinners, David and Saul. Only one has truth in his heart.