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SECTION LXXXV. SAUL CONSULTETH A WITCH AT ENDOR SAMUEL
APPEARETH TO HIM.
From 1 Samuel, Chap. xxviii, Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented for 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.
And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.
And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.
And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
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.
And 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.
And 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? And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.
Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? and he said, Bring me up Samucl.
And 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. And 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.
And 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 him. self.
And 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.
Then said Samuel, Wherefore, then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is bea come thine enemy? And 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.
Because 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.
Moreover, 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,
Then 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.
And 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.
Now 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.
But 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.
And 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,
And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The terror which Saul suffered at the sight of the Philistine
army was very natural to a guilty mind : had he kept to his duty, he would have had no cause to tremble, for in that case he might, with the utmost confidence, have enquired the will of the LORD. " But how* could he who had murdered the priests consult the holy oracle? and after having slighted the admonitions of Samuel, how could he expect to be answered? by prophets? neither could he hope for direction by a
dream from God, for he had forfeited all the aids of the Holy Spirit.” He had also by his cruel persecutions driven David away, and many brave officers; the flower of Saul's army had with him joined the enemy, so that his situation was truly deplorable ; but he was the author of his own wretchedness; he ought therefore to have humbled himself, and implored the mercy of God; instead of doing so, Saul had recourse to an expedient which he could not be ignorant was an unlawful one ; for he had in the beginning of his reign, frorn a full conviction that diabolical arts were abominable to the LORD, destroyed all those who were known to practise them. Saul had lived in a continued course of
presumptuous sin ; he therefore deserved to be rejected of God, who had shewn so much forbearance towards him. His disobedience in respect to Agag and the Amalekites, made him unfit to be any longer captain of the LORD's inheritance; David had been anointed in his stead, and the promise of the kingdom was at the same time given him, for the Lord knew that Saul would not repent: but David was not permitted to dethrone Saul, who might have enjoyed a peaceable reign by his assistance, had he humbly submitted to the just punishment that was inflicted on him (as Moses did to his disappoint. ment in respect to the land of Canaan, and Eli to the preference given to Samuel.) But when Saul learnt that another was preferred before him, and perceived that the Spirit of the LORD was on David, from which he concluded him to be the man, he resolved to oppose the purposes of God, by putting David to death. His cruel designs proved ineffectual, and finding himself and his kingdom n he most imminent danger, his spirits sunk to the depth of despair, he was solicitous to 7
know what would really be the event of the battle, therefore made use of the usual ceremonies for learning the will of the LORD ; but as his heart was not right towards God, they were to no purpose. Saul now lamented the loss of Samuel, and formed a desperate resolution of trying whether he could bring him from the dead by magic spells; for this purpose he went in the night to the witch of Endor.
Witches, wizards, sorcerers, &c. so frequently mentioned in scripture, were persons who pretended to hold intercourse with spirits, and by their means to foretel future events: it is supposed that they made use of a number of superstitious ceremonies, in order to engage the assistance of evil beings in mischievous practices and the discovery of hidden things. Superstition is very credulous; therefore people, who had more curiosity than religion, were led to suppose, from the strange 'words these persons uttered, that they were really pose sessed of supernatural knowledge, and could converse with souls in a state of separation from the body; but we must not believe that evil spirits can reveal, or any human being possibly discover, what it pleases God to conceal ; that any arts can prevail to bring spirits into this world; or that departed souls can assume bodies when they please, and become visible to mortal sight : for they are no more able to come to us, than we to go to them. The CREATOR of all things certainly could clothe the soul of Samuel with a visible form, in order that he might repeat and confirm the sentence he had formerly been commanded to denounce against Saul, and to assure him that it was going to be put immediately into execution : or we may suppose, with some degree of probability, that this sorceress might be commanded to utter these words, as Balaam was to pro