A troubling chapter in 1 Samuel. Not only do we have David presumably on the verge of perpetuating his deceptive role against the Philistines (28:1-2), but we also have a lost and confused Saul seeking guidance from one whom the Lord is actively opposing. Saul sought guidance from the Lord, but the Lord gave none; Saul seeks guidance from a spirit medium, and the Lord speaks to Saul via this mode. A question that often arises is whether or not what occurred in this chapter (28:12-19) was something that was normal or just extraordinary for the occasion. The text does not address this and, thus, neither is it answered. That the Lord banned any such activity (Deuteronomy 18:10-11) is indicative that some believed in its power. Of course, what some believed does not prove its actual occurring. In any case, on this occasion, the Lord used the occasion to bring news to Saul that he would die, his sons would die, his army would be defeated, and it all goes back (as a foundation) to his refusal to obey the Lord (as recorded in C-15). Saul, who had but a short time to live, was depleted of all energy.
Application: When one is desperate the actions of the desperate one is unknown. Saul was desperate for an answer from the Lord. Not getting an answer he sought an answer from one he thought was next to the Lord (Samuel). Saul learned a powerful lesson (was it the final one he learned?), and that is when the Lord won’t answer (His silence was indicative of much) whatever answer is forthcoming and from whom makes no difference at all. People pray and pray and they receive no answer, and the reply to that “no answer” is contempt against the Lord. This contempt is supposed to be the proper reply? Do you think Saul would agree with this when he called upon the witch at En Dor? If he did, I am sure he changed his mind quickly.