1 SAMUEL 28
3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented 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.
Familiar spirits and wizards
Who or what were they? They were men who insolently assumed the power to divine-men who exercised themselves familiarly, and therefore, unseemly, contemptuously, and iniquitously in matters beyond their comprehension-they were impostors.
They "had familiar spirits"-spirits generated within them by their study and practice of necromancy-mere mental acquirements in keeping with their profession-mere dispositions in harmony with the pretended character of their divinations. As for their possessing other spirits, spirits of the dead or unseen, or holding compact with such, this was all a pretence.
What is the proof? According to Scripture, witchcraft is sin. Sin is solely the result of lust. Lust is predicated of the flesh. The supposed spirits of the dead, whether on the supposition they are within the man or outside of him, are separate from flesh; therefore, such spirits, supposing they did exist, could not in any way be connected with witchcraft.
According to James
"Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust is conceived, it bringeth forth sin."
According to Jesus, it is not of a supposed "hell" evil works proceed. It is out of the mouth and from the heart. Why? Because
"the tongue is an unruly evil. full of deadly poison," and, "the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;"
therefore, it cannot be "because there are devils or evil spirits abroad on the earth;" for supposing this were the case, the fact of the heart of man being deceitful above all things, and hence deceitful above them would prove they were less wicked than man, and more likely to be the deceived than the deceivers.
This destroys the purpose for which they are said to exist; and as purposeless existences have no place in this world, therefore must the theory of their "deceptions, their evil works, their going to and fro on the earth, and their walking up and down upon it," be all a delusion. Not so evil works, however. These cannot be denied. But it is men, not spirits, devils material, not immaterial, who do them.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, April 1869
7 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.
Endor was one of the towns inherited by Manasseh - Josh 17.11. It is also where Deborah smote Sisera the captain of the Midianiates by hammering a nail through his temples while he slept. The Midianites " perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth" - Psa 83: 10.
Saul was wicked, his followers to Endor as wicked; as for the witch, she was in the eyes of God, and in the face of the law Saul did his best, first to execute, last to break-in the face of that law, and in the face of the people among whom she dwelt, an outlaw and a castaway.
Hence it is not to be supposed that God would have directly permitted Samuel to appear, supposing it possible he could have appeared, or that Samuel, His prophet, would have obeyed such a summons, as to come up or appear among such company, supposing it possible he could have done so.
Just think of God permitting one of His servants to obey the summons of an enchantress!! Of one, whom to consult, not to speak of obey, was a crime as aggravating as witchcraft itself.
And think of Samuel himself, the servant of God, obeying such a summons! Had it been to visit all with punishment or death, then there would have appeared a justifiable and consistent reason for it; but here in the story before us, it was to do that for which he was called up.
To do what? To serve the purpose of upholding the fame of a witch: in fact, to afford for all time coming, a just precedent, and a lasting testimonial for the exercise, success and honour of her craft. And all this, let it be remembered in the face of the law referred to,
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." "A man also, or a woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone him with stones: their blood shall be upon them." "Regard not them which have familiar spirits, neither seek after spirits, to be defiled by them. I am the Lord, your God."
Strange, indeed, if Samuel's appearance was true, in the face of all this! Aye, passing strange, if God had thus encouraged the breaking of His own law.
No, indeed, He never did. The witch was there by the connivance of man, not by the winking of God. God had made her crime only punishable by man, and the men who had the execution of the law had failed in this instance to do so. Therefore, there, were they all,-Saul, his associates, and the witch, in opposition to the law; and it was of God's mercy, and not by His permission or connivance, that they were not in His anger all consumed. As for Samuel, he who was the honoured of God...
...would he of himself have done after his death that which he never would have done before it? No such thing. To say so, is a libel on his character.
"As the tree falls so does it lie." "At death, he that is holy is holy still, and he that is righteous is righteous still."
Samuel did not appear at the bidding of the witch, he did not appear with the connivance or sanction of God; he did not appear of his own accord, and hence did not appear at all. And this not simply, because there was every moral reason against it, but because also, it was an impossibility for him to appear in any other form than in his body from the grave; because it was impossible for the witch to raise the dead; and because, too
"the dead know not anything."
And hence, however loud she might have called, Samuel could not have heard. As for his telling Saul what is stated in the narrative, it would have been inconsistent with God's departure from Saul, and the determination of God to answer him no more,
"neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets"
-a determination so comprehensive as to include the very circumstances in which Samuel is assumed to appear, and therefore as signal a contradiction of Samuel's real appearance and speech, as need be-an exposure in fact of the woman's imposition.
Yes, in every aspect one may look at it, the whole story is a record of credulity, weakness, wickedness, foolhardiness, deceit and falsehood. And justly so, for nothing else could have sprung from such a company-Saul, his associates, and the witch-a committee of devils, in a cavern of the earth, there assembled to break and defy both the law of God and their own country.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, April 1869
8 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.
is a modern kind of witchcraft, or a new name for a very old practice.
It is neither more nor less than necromancy, or, as the Bible terms it,
"enquiring of the dead."
The witch of En-dor practised this art when she pretended to call up the Ghost of Samuel at the bidding of Saul-for be it remarked, it is not said that Saul saw the spirit of Samuel-the witch described it to him, and from the description, he perceived that it was Samuel. But it is nowhere said that necromancy was a real thing, and not a juggle.
On the contrary... the person who professed it was called a witch, and Moses commanded that all witches should die the death of traitors-denyers of God the King.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Feb 1869.
9 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?
The witch of Endor
Why... is the story in Scripture at all? Because it forms a part of the history of Saul, and a very important part. It exposes the imposture of witchcraft, and reveals regarding it the true character of Saul. It presents more of Saul's character than any other part of his life.
...The very fact of their being in the company of a witch is quite a sufficient criterion by which to judge whether they were deceived or not.
...We have God's word for it, that witchcraft was all a deception, and this is quite enough for our purpose. This pronounces the appearance and speeches of Samuel as all an imposture, the mere simulations of the woman herself, and the obvious reason why the inspired writer has not himself told us so, seems clear from the fact that he wrote only for readers of the Scriptures: for those, who, if they do not know, ought to know that witchcraft is a deception, and hence be able to understand his story as he intended it.
He cannot be blamed for their want of knowledge while elsewhere he has put it within their reach.
... witches themselves were the evil spirits; and that there are no such things as evil spirits apart from "the deceitful workers of iniquity."
...For what were those enchanters, but the very emissaries of heathen superstition-what were they but the prophets, the wise and the cunning of heathen worship: and what else were their prophecies, their charms and bewitcheries, but the machinations of their own wicked imaginations, as their gods were the machinations of their own wicked hands.
... "the stock of all the wise of the nations, " heathen or heathenised. "is a doctrine of vanities; that they saw lies, told false dreams, and there was no truth in them?"-(Zech. 10:2; Jer. 10.; Hab. 2:18; Isa. 8:20).
...But more than this, we are not only informed that the wise of the earth were impostors, but we are told also, their mode of proceeding.
"They" (the witches and wizards) "peeped and muttered"-"Spoke out of the ground"-"whispered out of the dust."-(Isa. 8:12; 24:4).
In other words, used, what in our day, is called ventriloquism, to perform their deception.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, April 1869
14 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 himself.
Saul saw nothing but the witch. The witch told him what she saw (the reflex of Saul's own mind), and he recognised Samuel from her description. The witch was an ancient spiritualist under another name. That the spectral vision of Samuel (trajected upon her sensorium from Saul's imagination) should be made the vehicle of prophetic truth concerning the morrow, was no proof of Samuel's disembodied existence, but only an illustration of God turning the devices of the wicked to their own confusion.
The Christadelphian, May 1874. p219.
16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing Yahweh is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
Saul reigned several years after David's nomination to the kingdom. They were years of chagrin, envy, and mortification to Saul. Naturally so to such a man. Had he been sensitive to the divine will, it would have been otherwise: for such a man would have recognised and acquiesced in the appointment of David with alacrity, and even zeal.
But a man who has not God before his eyes, but finds enjoyment in a position or occupation of honour in itself, is the man that is unfit to fill it for God, and certain to become the subject of consuming jealousy of others.
A man who seeks to do the will of God is not liable to be affected in this way: for it is his joy to see the work of God done, by whomsoever, so that it be the work of God, and not the work of the devil under a guise, as it is always liable to be in this age of the devil's supremacy-a mere ministering to self-gratification, instead of the doing of those things that are well-pleasing to God.
Saul was a merely natural man, and therefore he "eyed David from that day forward," and "sought to slay him." Saul's malady was aggravated by a divine interference with his tranquillity: "an evil spirit from Yahweh troubled him." In this is another glimpse of the visible hand of God at work-a negative and not blessed form of work for Saul, but almost the only form in which he was permitted to know it henceforward; for-
"When Saul enquired of Yahweh, Yahweh answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets,"
the divers manners in which he signified his mind supernaturally in that age (1 Samuel 28: 6).
Visible hand of God Ch 23