“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2)
I know it is popular theology to assume that the one that Saul spoke with when he visited the spirit medium (also known as “the witch at En Dor”) was actually Samuel, when he attempted to “bring up” Samuel — who had gone to be with the Lord. But I think there are a couple of glaring statements that force us to question this assumption, and arrive at another assumption, instead.
First, I point you towards the following statement, made by the alleged [spirit of] Samuel, found in 1 Samuel 28:15: “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” This should send the alarm bells ringing, because no human being on the face of this earth — save God alone — has the power to “bring up” the spirit of a departed soul.
Think about it. God alone has the power over heaven and hell, according to Matthew 10:28. Again, think about Revelation 5:1-5, where we read about the Only One who is worthy to open the book with the seven seals. The Man who has the authority to open the book is the same One who has the authority over heaven and hell — the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now this same Man — and He alone — has the authority to “disturb” or “bring up” a departed spirit. But no one else — no, not even someone else acting in His Name — has the power to do that. For the only time that the Lord Jesus Christ will “summon” a departed soul will be at the judgment seat of Christ, and, possibly at a few other selected times in history — such as when Christ demonstrated His authority over the grave by summoning Lazarus, who has already died, or, yet again, Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. But only the Lord can do this. And this is something that we have to remember at all times, lest we become deceived (Satan’s game).
Now at this point, we have a few decisions to make. We know that only God himself has the ability to “call up” a departed spirit. Neither Saul, nor the witch, nor any other created being in all of the earth, and under heaven, has the power, or the right, or the authority, to do that. Yet, clearly, the “spirit” (whoever it is who is speaking — this alleged “Samuel”), says to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Now I say again, that should send the alarm bells ringing.
Here’s something else that should send the alarm bells ringing. In 1 Samuel 28:13, king Saul says to the witch, “Do not be afraid. What did you see?” She responds, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.” Now think about it. Samuel had gone to be with the Lord. We know that when a saved person dies, he does not stay in the earth! His body returns to dust, but his spirit goes to be with the Lord, in accordance with 2 Corinthians 5:8. Samuel was not in the earth! That, of course, is what both the witch, and perhaps Saul, in his ignorance, would have thought, or presupposed. But it was absolutely false. Samuel was not there. He was in heaven!
So we have two glaring errors staring right at us. They are significant, because they are a “tip off” to us that something is not right! What is going on? I would like to set forth the possibility that the “One” who was doing the speaking was actually God himself.
While it is true that God cannot, and does not, lie, yet the Scriptures do declare that God will “give up” a person to deception is they wallow in it. The expression “God gave them up” or “God gave them over” (to deception) is repeated three times in the following verses: Romans 1:24,26,28.
Secondly, 1 Kings 22:22-23 (or 2 Chronicles 18:21-22) states that on at least one occasion, God actually “sent out” a lying (deceptive) spirit to fill the mouth of some false prophets. Why? Because God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7). If it’s deception that you want — if that has always been your expressed desire — then that is what you will get.
In order not to be deceived, we need to always be ready to confess our sins and repent of any wrongdoing that we have done. We always need to be ready to “make right” any wrongs. Otherwise, we will be deceived. God will not be held responsible for our deception. It is our own hardness of heart that “invites” deception to come “flying” in our direction. God, on his part, permits it in order to test us, and see just how pure our heart really is (see also Jeremiah 17:10).
The deception is a gift, of sorts, so that you might get free of deception. For example, if Saul had been studying his Bible regularly, he would have know that Samuel wouldn’t ascend out of the earth! He might have gotten as far as the witch, but he still had the power to stop before it was too late!
In conclusion, then, as Christians (or even non-Christians), we may have missed a few deceptions along the way, and gotten ourselves into a “real state of bondage, and oppression.” Nevertheless, are we willing to “catch” the current deceptions that are staring at us right in the face, and make an about face in our lives? We can only hope to do this through serious Bible study, fellowship, and prayer — God’s remedy for a broken, deceived, world.
It is only too bad that Saul himself didn’t stay closer to the word of God, and further away from the world.