The Woman of Endor

Bible Study for June 11, 2016

Background:  Saul was instructed to “Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out (I Samuel 15:18).  Samuel told him: Why did you not obey the Lord?  Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the lord? “But I did obey the Lord, Saul said.   Saul’s explanation was:  The Soldiers took the sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God of Gilgal ( I Samuel 15:19 and 15:21).  Saul replied, “I have sinned.  I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions.  I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them (I Samuel 15:24).  But Samuel said to him (Saul), I will not go back with you.  You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as King over Israel! (I Samuel 15:26).

Her character: Compassionate to Saul on the eve of his death, she exercised power by acting as a medium.

Her sorrow: To have delivered a hopeless message to Israel’s king.

Key Scriptures: 1 Samuel 28:3-25

  1. “Please,” the voice insisted, “consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one I name.”  This was Saul’s request out of desperation to the Woman of Endor.  In his desperation Saul turns to a pagan practice that he himself had previously outlawed. Saul’s desperation must have been very great for him to consult with a medium to dabble in the occult.
  2. Right from the start, God commended his people not to have anything to do with witch craft in any form.  “A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death.  You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.” Leviticus 20:27).
  3. “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?” she replied.  The woman is very cautious about practicing her trade with strangers lest she be betrayed to Saul.  Cut off refers to expelled is used in verse 3; possibly a euphemism for “put to death.”
  4. Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” “Bring up Samuel,” he said.  This was Saul’s reply to the question asked by The Woman of Endor.
  5. The same Saul who refused to heed Samuel’s prophetic words when he was alive now disobeyed the very laws he had put into effect in order to hear Samuel one last time.
  6. So the woman sat down and yielded herself, making her soul a bridge for the dead to    walk across.
  7. When the woman saw Samuel, She cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” The episode has been understood in many different ways, among them the following:  1. God permitted the spirit of Samuel to appear to the woman.  2.  The woman had contact with an evil spirit in the form of Samuel by whom she was deceived and controlled.  3.  By using parapsychological powers such as telepathy or clairvoyance, the woman was able to discern Saul’s thoughts and picture Samuel in her own mind.  As Samuel had previously announced (15:26, 28), because of Saul’s unfaithfulness to the Lord, death from the impending battle would come; and his hopes of a dynasty would be dashed and his reign would conclude with a devastating defeat of Israel to the Philistines’.
  8. “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.  These words are Woman of Endors      interpretation of Samuel appearing.
  9. Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” In an answer to Samuel’s question; Saul admitted that he was in great distress, because God had turned away from him and that God no longer answers him.
  10. Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David.  Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.”
  11. The woman shuddered, the message delivered. Little wonder the king had seemed so desolate. Fear had crushed the life out of his once-strong face, hollowing the eyes, etching deep lines across cheeks and forehead.
  12. Taking pity, she spoke to him: “Look, your maidservant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”
  13. Kindly, she served what may have been Saul’s last meal. The next day he was dead. Wounded in battle, he fell on his own sword, determined to finish the job before his enemies could reach him. True to form, Saul, who had always tried to control his destiny, controlled even the manner of his death. But he could not control what happened next. Discovering his body, the Philistines celebrated by severing his head and hanging it in the temple of their god. Then they tacked his naked corpse to the walls of a nearby town as a trophy. Israel’s first king had become a gruesome spectacle.
  14. The aged monarch tried desperately to find some advice or guidance from other prophets or priests, but the Lord would not speak to him. As a young man, Saul had been close to God. But after ascending the throne, he became cruel and rebelled against God’s Word. Once he even had a whole village of priests murdered. King Saul had persistently New International Version (NIV)

Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Copyright © 1999, 2002 by Anne Spangler and Jean Syswerda by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

biblegateway.com/devotionals/women-of-the-bible/2014/05/19 This devotional is drawn from Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Used with permission.

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