Did Samuel Come Up? 1 Sam. 28: 7-20 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Several people have asked, over the years, whether the woman with the familiar spirit in 1 Sam 28:7-20 really called up Samuel. Most of them believe that Samuel didn’t really come up, but rather that the voice of the familiar spirit imitating Samuel spoke to Saul. However, if you read the text carefully and believe what it says, you realize that the woman called up Samuel and Samuel spoke to Saul.
It is astonishing that women with familiar spirits can call up spirits that imitate the voice and knowledge of a real person who is deceased. We remember the case of one preacher who was asked by one of his church members to check out a woman leading a séance in their community. The preacher attended the séance and the woman called up his mother. The voice was his mother’s voice and the spirit proved itself by identifying two relatives of which the preacher was not aware. So he laughed off the experience as a hoax because these relatives didn’t exist, as far as he knew. However, after some research, he discovered these relatives and all of the information revealed to him by the spirit about these two people was perfectly accurate. So, he went back for a follow-up visit.
At the second séance, his mother’s voice was heard again. This time he said to the spirit, “You told me that if I want to go to heaven I need to trust the shed blood of Jesus for my salvation.” With that, the voice said, “Well, Son, it isn’t like that. If you want to be where I am you need to be a good person.” So, the spirit wouldn’t confess the blood of Jesus Christ and that is how he knew the spirit was false. The spirit was not his mother!! However, isn’t it remarkable that the spirit which spoke with his mother’s voice knew such precise details about his relatives?
Consequently, there is the concern that the spirit called up by the woman of Endor was not really Samuel but rather a spirit that imitated the appearance and voice of Samuel. After all, Israel was warned not to go to “a consulter with familiar spirits,” (Deut 18:11). Nevertheless, a study of the text will reveal that the person who spoke to Saul that day was Samuel. Here is the evidence in 1 Samuel 28:
Verse 12 – The woman cried with a loud voice when she saw Samuel. His appearance was evidently something unusual and frightening for her.
Verse 12 – The woman knew immediately after Samuel appeared that the man disguised before her was Saul. She didn’t know this until after she saw Samuel.
Verse 13 – When Saul asked the woman what she saw, she said she saw “gods ascending out of the earth.” Samuel would have been in Abraham’s bosom after his death. When you look in Luke 16:22, you are reminded that angels carried Lazarus into Abraham’s bosom after his death. Thus, these “gods” that she saw are probably the angels who brought Samuel up to speak with Saul. Evidently this is not the kind of vision she was used to seeing with her familiar spirit.
Verse 14 – Saul wanted a physical description of the man she saw to determine if he was Samuel. She said, “An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle.” The description of Samuel’s appearance was recognized immediately by Saul.
Verse 15 – the Bible says, “And Samuel said to Saul…” If this were a familiar spirit and not really Samuel, the Bible would have said, “And the spirit said to Saul…” The person speaking was Samuel.
Verse 15 – Samuel asked Saul, “Why hast thou disquieted me, to ‘bring me up?’” That is a revealing question. It shows you that Samuel was in the heart of the earth in Abraham’s bosom at that time (Lk 16:22; Matt 12:40). Saul’s reason for bringing Samuel up was “that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.”
Verses 16-19 – Samuel told Saul the absolute truth concerning every historical and prophetic detail that he revealed to him: “the Lord is departed from thee,” (1 Sam 16:14); the Lord “is become thine enemy,” (1 Sam 26:10); “the Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand,” (1 Sam 15:28); the Lord hath given the kingdom “to David,” (1 Sam 16:13); “thou obeyest not the voice of the Lord,” (1 Sam 15:9, 24); “nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek,” (1 Sam 15:33); “the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines,” (1 Sam 31:7); “and tomorrow shall thou and thy sons be with me,” (1 Sam 31:2). This is true because Saul and three of his sons died in the battle the next day. For sure, Jonathan would have gone to Abraham’s bosom to be with Samuel. Saul, on the other hand, probably went to hell (1 Sam 16:14) and would have been “with” Samuel in that hell and Abraham’s bosom were together in the heart of the earth in Sheol, separated only by a great gulf (Lk 16:26). It is noteworthy that Saul is not listed with David and Samuel in Heb 11:32.
Every detail of the prophecy came to pass exactly as Samuel prophesied. The sign of a true prophet is that he speaks in the name of the Lord and what he says comes to pass (Deut 18:21-22). This wouldn’t have happened if the person speaking was a familiar spirit rather than Samuel.
The evidence in the text indicates that Samuel actually came up out of Abraham’s bosom as on old man covered with a mantle and spoke directly to King Saul about his apostasy and his impending doom.