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Verses 15-19

Saul’s conversation with Samuel 28:15-19

Samuel’s soul had been at peace in the place of departed spirits, but now Saul had disturbed that rest. Saul described his reason for doing so. He wanted to obtain divine guidance concerning the Philistines from Samuel, since he could not get it from the Lord through other means. Samuel replied that Saul was wrong in thinking that Samuel would tell him what strategy to use since the Lord would not. The prophet was, after all, simply the mouthpiece of God. The Lord had become Saul’s real adversary, more so than the Philistines, since the king had refused to obey Yahweh. Samuel repeated God’s judgment on Saul: ". . . the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David" (1 Samuel 28:17; cf. 1 Samuel 15:27-28).

Samuel also explained that the Lord had ceased speaking to Saul because Saul had stopped listening to God. Specifically, he had failed to obey the Lord by slaying Amalek (ch. 15). Samuel’s final revelation was that Yahweh would hand His people over to the Philistines tomorrow, and Saul and his sons would die in the battle. They would soon be with Samuel in Sheol, the place of departed spirits. Yahweh was still the true king of Israel and would control the destiny of His people, even His king, though Saul always wanted to be the ultimate authority in Israel and to control his own destiny.

The reason God told the Israelites not to consult the spirit world was that He promised to reveal what was best for them to know about the future through prophets (Deuteronomy 18:9-22). There are some things concerning the future about which we are better off ignorant. Samuel had knowledge of Saul’s future, but he was a prophet. Nothing in Scripture indicates that demons know any more about the future than what God has revealed to people. In this case Saul would probably have been better off not knowing he would die the next day. Yet knowing this, he still went into battle evidently convinced that he could alter the will of God, as he had tried to do so many other times in his life. He still had not learned that Yahweh was his sovereign master.

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