…Then 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. – 1Sam. 28:6-7 KJV
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The Israelites had asked for a king to rule over them like the other nations around them because, in their opinion, Samuel who doubled as the Priest of God and their leader was getting old and their assessment of the conduct of his children did not give them enough confidence that they were going to tow the path of their father – 1Sam. 8:1-5. Although this demand got Samuel depressed as he communicated it to the Almighty God, he was re-assured by the Lord that he was not the one being rejected but He, the Almighty God. However he was still to go ahead and appoint a king for them based on his directives, but not before letting them know the character that is associated with earthly kings – 1Sam. 8:6-9.
Of course it must have gone down well with the people for Samuel to still go ahead with the appointment of a king over them, even after he told them what earthly kings do to their subjects, as he chose Saul from the lineage of Benjamin as king for them, albeit with directives from the Lord.
Like most new occupants of positions of authority, Saul initially complied with the instructions of the Lord and did all to satisfy his subjects but that was for a while. After getting more comfortable in his position as king, he lost total reverence for the Lord and most prominent were two occasions when he chose to defy the Lord and took a decision that was completely against the instructions of the Lord – 1Sam. 13:1-15; 15:1-34. This no doubt got the Almighty God angry and he decided to withdraw support for Saul and his kingship, replacing him with David – 1Sam. 16:1-13.
At the time when he was still in full obeisance to the Lord, he had cleared the land of all wizards, witches and those that had familiar spirits, and had only Samuel who was the Priest of the Almighty God, as his sole source of obtaining spiritual guidance from the Lord (1Sam. 28:3b), but with this his act of disobedience, the Lord, unknown to him, had since withdrawn his support for him. Despite the withdrawal of the spiritual support for Saul and the appointment of a replacement by the Almighty God, he was still left to run his tenure and this probably gave him the impression that whatever pronouncement Samuel made, with regards to his disrespect for the instructions of the Lord, were false, did not represent the position of the Lord and must have been a product of his personal thoughts. He probably thought he still had the Almighty God on his side and he was capable of using the Urim and Thummim, after all he must have seen Samuel use it and did not see anything special in what he was doing, so when he no longer had Samuel on his side and he needed to seek directives from the Lord with regards to the threat posed by the Philistines, who had challenged him and Israel to a war, he took no time to order that the Urim and Thummim be brought to him but unfortunately, he did all that he saw Samuel do with both spiritual tools but did not get the same result. There was simply no communication from the Lord, even through dreams and so in his frustration, he had to seek direction from the same source that he had cleared out of his kingdom – 1Sam. 28:6.
Based on his request, he was told of a witch in Endor who possessed the same familiar spirit that he had dissociated himself from when he was still in good relationship with the Lord – 1Sam. 28:7-8. Humbled and in shame, he approached the witch in a disguised format, hoping he will not be recognised, so that he could seek counsel from the same Samuel who was now dead but whose counsel during his life time, he had no value for – 1Sam. 28:3.
The witch reminded him of the directives of King Saul with regards to such practices and told him of her unwillingness to offer such services to save her life, but Saul assured her of her safety, after which she did his bidding, which was to call up Samuel. She was in the process of doing this when she identified the person before her as King Saul – 1Sam. 28:9-13.
Samuel did show up and after rebuking Saul for troubling him gave him the news that he least expected. The lord had fulfilled all that He spoke through him concerning the kingdom.
1. The Lord had snatched the kingdom from him and handed it over to a neighbour he identified as David (1Sam. 28:17-18) due to his disobedience at not executing all the Instructions he was given concerning the king and people of Amalek – 1Sam. 15:1-34.
2. The lord had decided that the Israelites will lose the battle to the Philistines – 1Sam. 28:19a.
3. The lineage of Saul was going to be destroyed as he and his children would not exceed the next twenty-four hours – 1Sam. 28:19b.
What a huge price to pay for disobedience to the instructions of the sovereign God. Despite all the fasting, prayers and obvious eagerness to hear from the Lord (1Sam. 28:20), it all turned out to be a waste of time and wasted effort as all that the Lord said through Samuel were implemented.
There is definitely so much that the Christian today can take away from this event the core of which is the need to place high premium on the relationship with the Lord. It is a huge Grace to have such relationship that existed between the Lord and King Saul, as moderated by Samuel. Like the popular saying that “familiarity breeds contempt”, Christians must never allow the decision of the Lord to come close lead to disrespect for Him. Saul took the Lord for granted and the following were his actions and the repercussions.
1. He had lost so much reverence for the Lord such that he could now upturn His instructions without scruples. For him, it was not going to be about what the Lord said but what he feels is right – 1Sam. 15:20-21. The repercussion of that was the cutting short of the grace he enjoyed as a king with divine support from the Lord after all, until he was made a king, no one from the lineage of Benjamin was earmarked for that role – 1Sam. 9:21. He was right when he said his lineage was the least in Israel. He only enjoyed Grace to be made king.
2. He was so sure of himself, so much so that the pronouncement of the Lord through the one the Lord used to announce and anoint him as king no longer mattered, else he would not have waited until he had need for the Lord’s direction before confirming that the Lord had left him. The consequence of such disregard was that the reality came at a time when he could not save himself from shame with the loss of not just his own life but that of all his sons in one day.
3. He lost total respect for the processes that brought him into prominence and even when he was corrected the first time for offering a sacrifice that only Samuel as a priest could offer, he still did not take the correction else he would not have tried to use the Urim and Thummim to communicate with the Lord – 1Sam. 13:1-15. He probably thought it was as simple as he saw Samuel do it. Fear for the Lord and respect for His instructions would have made him know that the Urim and Thummim are the exclusive of the Priests of the Lord and that the Lord will never relate with anyone who is not called or recognised by Him, to play that role or use them – Exo. 28:30.
The implication of all these to him and the Christian who chooses to thread a path similar to this is frustration in prayer life. The Almighty God simply stops hearing such requests thus leaving such a person isolated from the Him. All efforts to get His attention simply remains fruitless and in most cases, instead of the Christian identifying his/her actions as the root cause of the silence from the Lord, blames are placed on several people and worse still, approaches are made to the same deities that were rejected when such a Christian took a decision to worship the Almighty God exclusively. Like Saul, they begin to associate with gods that the Lord does not want, all in the name of seeking the Lord. It will be wrong all day long if the Lord is sought in places that he detests and this has nothing to do with the intention for approaching such sources to play mediatory roles. The Almighty God simply does not want the Christian to be associated with them.
The only solution is such situations is for the Christian to identify the errors committed as revealed by Samuel in the case of King Saul and plead with the Lord for forgiveness unlike the disregard that King Saul chose as a reaction. The Christian should never put up an action that depicts defiance to the Lord, or a complete loss of hope in the merciful nature of the Almighty God. For as long as there is breathe to plead for forgiveness, their should be hope that the living God will show mercy and prevent calamity or stop the rot, if it has already commenced since He does not desire the death of the sinner – Eze. 18:23; 33:11. The plea for forgiveness is not simply about the restoration of earthly losses but the need to secure a comfortable place in his kingdom in the life after life. No matter how much pain, the loss of earthly possession and position may bring, it can not be compared to the loss of peace and comfort in the life after life. Value your relationship with Him. Preserve it with all that you have as that is your only assurance of lasting joy in this realm and more of it in the life after life. May God grant us the wisdom to value and preserve our relationship with Him in Jesus name. Amen.