Dave Burnette's Commentary

1 Samuel Chapter 28

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel, Nathan, & Gad 
Date Penned: (931-975 BC)
Overview: Samuel, Israel's Last Judge (c 1-31)
Theme: Saul and David (c 16-31)
Message: Saul Consults a Witch (v 1-25)

1 Samuel 28 Commentary

(28:1-2) God Protects David - Achish's request put David in a difficult position. To refuse to help Achish fight the Israelites would give away the fact that David was loyal to Israel and endanger the lives of his soldiers and family. But to fight his own people would hurt those he loved and would soon lead. David, however, never had to solve his dilemma because God protected him. The other Philistine leaders objected to his presence in battle; thus, he did not have to fight his fellow Israelites (see 29:4).

(28:3-8) Saul Consults a Witch - Saul had banned all mediums and wizards (those who consult with the spirits of the dead) from Israel, but in desperation he turned to one for counsel. En-dor was in Israelite territory, on the border with Philistia, so the medium either could practice the occult covertly or had become inactive. Although Saul had removed the sin of witchcraft from the land, he did not remove it from his heart. We may make a great show of denouncing sin, but if our hearts do not change, the sins will return. Knowing what is right and condemning what is wrong do not take the place of doing what is right.

(28:5-7) Saul Turns to the Occult - Saul was overwhelmed at the sight of the Philistine army, so he turned to the occult. It is far better to regard life's difficulties and obstacles as reminders to turn in God's direction and depend on him. As we see from Saul's story, turning to anything or anyone other than God leads only to disaster.

(28:6) The Urim and Thummim - The Urim, along with the Thummim, was used by the high priest to determine God's guidance in certain matters. (See the second note on 2:18 and the note on 10:20 for further information on the use of the Urim and Thummim.)

(28:7-8) God Does Not Work Through the Occult - God had strictly forbidden the Israelites to have anything to do with divination, sorcery, witchcraft, mediums, fortune-tellers, or anyone who consults the dead (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). In fact, sorceresses were to be put to death (Exodus 22:18). Occult practices were carried on in the name of pagan gods, and people turned to the occult for answers that God would not give. Practitioners of the occult have Satan and demons as the source of their information; God does not reveal his will to them. Instead, God speaks through his own channels: the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

(28:12) God Shows His Power to the Witch - Did Samuel really come back from the dead at the medium's call? The medium was frightened at the appearance of Samuel--she knew too well that the spirits she usually contacted were either contrived or satanic. Somehow Samuel's appearance revealed to her that she was dealing with a power far greater than she had known. She did not call up Samuel by trickery or by the power of Satan; God brought Samuel back to give Saul a prediction regarding his fate, a message Saul already knew. This in no way justifies efforts to contact the dead or communicate with persons or spirits from the past. God is against all such practices (Galatians 5:19-21).

(28:15) God Does Not Answer Saul - God did not answer Saul's appeals because Saul had not followed God's previous directions. Sometimes we wonder why our prayers are not answered. But if we don't fulfill the responsibilities God has already given us, we should not be surprised when he does not give us further guidance


Dave Burnette's Life Application

A Changed Heart


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue in the book of 1st Samuel with Chapter 28. In our text, we see Saul consulting a witch for direction, although the Lord had banned the occult from seeking council for God's People.  In our text, the Lord has left him due to his wrong choices, and we see Saul returning to this sin of consulting witches. In making an application, we see a principle of obedience without having a change of heart. Although Saul obeyed the Lord removing the Mediums, he did not change his heart in agreeing with God that it was wrong. I see this in my kids as I instruct them not to do things, and they obey, but when I am not around, they do the opposite. The problem was the same as Saul's; their heart was not changed. Being obedient to our Lord is important but having the heartbeat of our Lord is imperative to change our lives. How about you? Do you have the heartbeat of God when it comes to his position on sin? Let us learn from our text today and the life of Saul to remember that if we want to stay away from sin, we must have a genuine change of heart.


1 Samuel 28

1 Samuel 28

 1And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.

 2And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.

 3Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.

 4And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.

 5And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.

 6And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

 7Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

 8And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

 9And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

 10And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.

 11Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.

 12And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.

 13And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

 14And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

 15And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

 16Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?

 17And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:

 18Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.

 19Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.

 20Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.

 21And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me.

 22Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way.

 23But he refused, and said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed.

 24And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof:

 25And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night.