Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Death of Saul

"Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her” (1 Samuel 28:7).

When Saul tried to kill David, David fled with some of his loyal men. On their way into the wilderness they stopped at Nob where the tabernacle was maintained by the priests. David told Ahimelech the high priest that he was on a mission from Saul and that he and his men were hungry. (Jesus referred to this incident in Matthew 12:3–4). Ahimelech gave him bread to eat. Word of this got back to Saul, and Saul had Ahimelech and all the priests killed (1 Samuel 21–22).

We then skip over several years during which Saul tried to kill David numerous times, and during which David’s band enlarged considerably. There came a time when the Philistines grew bold enough to attack Israel again. They knew that Samuel was dead and that David, the great warrior, had left Saul. Preparing for war, the Philistines assembled at Shunem.

Saul was afraid (1 Samuel 28). He had no prophet to turn to. He had killed the priests. God refused to speak to him in dreams. In despair he turned to witchcraft, visiting the medium in Endor. He asked her to call forth Samuel to tell him what to do. The Bible forbids attempts to contact the dead (Deuteronomy 18:11), and Hebrews 9:27 says judgment comes to men after death. Hence, contacting the dead is impossible. When Samuel appeared as a miracle from God, the witch was frightened (1 Samuel 28:12). Samuel told Saul that the Lord was now his enemy and that he would die the next day.

Saul had been fasting for the occasion and now fell faint from hunger. The witch offered him a meal, but with a last spark of wisdom, he refused to fellowship at the table of demons. His men, however, prevailed on him, and he shared a meal with the witch, a meal described in the same language used to describe the sacramental meals at God’s house (slaughtered ox and unleavened bread, v. 24). Thus Saul sealed his doom.

The next day the Philistines prevailed against Saul’s army. Jonathan and two of Saul’s other sons were slain, and Saul was mortally wounded. He asked his armor-bearer to kill him, but the man refused, so Saul fell on his own sword and died.

Read 1 Samuel 15:23. What is the end product of a rebellious lifestyle? How does the life of Saul illustrate this?