1 Samuel 28 part 12 Magicians, Mediums and the like
Tonight we are going to be examining a very difficult chapter where Saul consults a medium. In fact one commentator I looked at stated that he thought that this was the most difficult chapter out of the entire Bible.† Well before we look at the chapter itself I think it always important that we see the rest of the Bible has to say about mediums and their abilities to help us understand more of what is going in chapter 28.
It seems to me that the mediums, sorcerers, magicians and the like seem to have their beginning in the Egyptian culture. The first time we see the mentioned in the Bible was when Joseph was in prison and the Pharaoh was having a dream that he wanted to know what it meant.†
Genesis 41:8 Now it came to pass in the morning
that his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of
Now as we look at the passages I want you to notice the continual pattern that we will see. First of we you will notice that there were people practicing these divination arts. Second thing I want you to observe is that these people were always limited on what they could pull off. Third I want you to notice that when God was involved with one of his people that they could do what the others could not which shows that their supposed ability was just a ruse. In this verse we see that none of these magicians or wise men could interpret the Pharaohs dream and this made the Pharaoh very angry but then he finds about this man name Joseph who may be able to tell him what his dream means.
Genesis 41:15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it."† 16 So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace."
Notice Joseph didnít say that he had the ability in himself to interpret the Kings dream but that it was only through God that he could do such a thing. Again, we see a stark contrast between Joseph and the magicians because Joseph gives the credit to God for his ability while these others give themselves the credit for supposed ability.
Our next example comes from the book of Exodus
when Moses started performing miracles in the form of plagues so that the
Pharaoh would let the children of
Exodus 7:10 So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh,
and they did so, just as the LORD commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before
Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.† 11 But Pharaoh also called the
wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of
Now in this instance we see that magicians were able to through there rods down and make them turn into snakes as well. Again, this is trick that magicians can pull of today by using trickery but the rod that Aaron threw down wasnít done by mere trickery it actually happened and to show that it wasnít just a mere trick the Godís serpent ate the other serpents showing that God power was real and greater than any tricks these magicians could come up with.
Now many of the plagues that Moses brought forth by the power of God the magicians were able to explain away by showing the Pharaoh how they could pull off the same trick. However, I personally believe that when they were doing their rendition of what Moses did that they did it on very small scale simply using slight of hand or other man made techniques. Now even these magicians could not reproduce some of the things that God was doing for real and they even admitted they could not.
Exodus 8:18 Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast.† 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God."
You see they were very limited on what they could do and they could not even begin to touch the power of God. Now letís look at a couple of NT examples.
Acts 8:9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,† 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the great power of God."† 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.† 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.† 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
Here we learn about how
Philip was go to
Mark 16:20 †And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.
Now we also learn about this man named Simon who had astonished the people for a long time with his bag of tricks and they thought he was something else, that is until they saw what real miracles were about through the hands Philip. Even Simon himself, knowing that his tricks were fake was truly amazed at the miracles and signs that Philip had done. Simon gave up his bag of tricks and became a Christian.
Our next example comes from one of Paulís adventures as recorded in, Acts 19
Acts 19:11 Now God
worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,†
12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his
body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of
them.† 13 Then some of the
itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord
Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the
Jesus whom Paul preaches."† 14
Also there were seven sons of Sceva, (see-vuh) a Jewish chief priest, who
did so.† 15 And the evil
spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are
you?"† 16 Then the man in
whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed
against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.† 17 This became known both to all
Jews and Greeks dwelling in
Notice the credit is given to God for working unusually miracles through Paul. It was already amazing enough with the miracles and the signs that were being done but to see unusually miracles happening must have been something else. Now in contrast these 7 sons of see-vuh thought they could simply chant or invoke the name of Jesus and they to would be able to work a sign such as casting a demon out but they find our real quick that it takes more than invoking the name of Jesus as they are beaten up and stripped of there cloths having to run from† that house naked for all to see. We need to keep in mind that the city of Ephesus was full of people who believed in other Godís and the arts of magic and so when the people heard this story it caused many in that city turn away from their so called magic and they had a great book burning today and the value of what they destroyed with be the equivalent of $35,000 dollars today.†
Now this is just 2 examples from the OT and 2 examples from the NT. More examples could be given but I think you can see from these examples that these magicians and the like were fakes and very limited on what they actually do. Now I want you to write down this next verse because it really teaches us that these magicians and the like are indeed just fakes.
Zechariah 10:2 For the idols speak delusion; The diviners envision lies, And tell false dreams; They comfort in vain.
Jeremiah 14:14 And the LORD said to me, "The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.
Ezekiel 13:6 "They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, 'Thus says the LORD!' But the LORD has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed.† 7 "Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, 'The LORD says,' but I have not spoken."† 8 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you," says the Lord GOD.
I believe this passages show that those who are magicians and the like are nothing more than tricksters, people who tell lies about what they see and they do their best to deceive those around them. Now I will say this any of these people actually performed any real magic their power would have only come from the devil himself. We can certainly see that he had limited power based on what God allowed him to do such as in the story of Job. For instance he was able to send fire down on his animals and he made a strong wind blow the house down that his children were in. Also the NT says this,
2 Thessalonians 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,† 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish
We also learn that during the NT time when demon possession† was allowed to happen that one lady is said to of had the ability to foretell the future that found in acts 16:16. But again even if and when someone did signs by the power of the devil it was still a limited power that could not come close to power of God.
Another thing we need to do compare how Godís people used objects to get an answer from God and how the magicians and the like used objects to practice their sorcery.
First lets look a few examples of what Gods people used.
Our first example comes from Judges chapter 6 where Gideon used a fleece to get an answer from God.
Judges 6:36 So Gideon said to God, "If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said --† 37 "look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said." †38 And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water.† 39 Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew."† 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.
Not only was this done it was done twice and we see a definite answer here and miracle because God controlled what the dew did.
Another example was the use of casting lots.
Proverbs 16:33 †The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.
The casting of lots were used to decided whether someone guilty or innocent and but the way the lot fell was controlled by God. This same method was used to determine who next apostle would be.
Acts 1:24 And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen† 25 "to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place."† 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Now the magicians used a variety of things to pull off their tricks.
Hosea 4:12 My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, And their staff informs them.
Ezekiel 21:21 "For
the king of
Sometimes they would use a stick or a staff and drop it and which ever side was up would give a person there yes or no answer. Sometimes they would shake an arrow to find the answer or even cut open an animal and look at it liver for sign. Of course another thing they supposedly did was to talk to the dead. Again there are more examples I could give but this is good enough to show that there were some similarities between these two by the fact that objects like these were used for real answer from God while they were also used as a part of the magicians bag of tricks.
God makes it very clear for us that magicians, mediums and the like were to avoided or killed in the OT time.
Deuteronomy 18:10 "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,† 11 "or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.† 12 "For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. †
Leviticus 20:27 ' A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them.' "
Now I want to look at what the Bible has to say about being able to speak to the dead to see if it is logically possible. †
Well first of all† I want to point the fact the only God has power over the soul.
Matthew 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Every instance that you read of someone who has died and then they came back to life because their soul reentered there body it always by the power of God by which that happens. No human has that power.
Ecclesiastes 8:8 No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death.
The Bible never mentions †the devil having this power either.
Once we die our soul goes to a place called Hades as I talked about a couple of weeks ago. Now according to the story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 it wasnít possible for rich man or Lazarus to cross the gulf that was between them and we also learned that no one was going to be sent back from the dead. Now think about this if it was not possible for them to leave the place they were at then what makes us think that someone on this earth could have the ability summon them up from this place or to speak to them. This story alone to me shows that it is not logically possible for mediums to be able to speak to the dead or bring them forth and also do not believe that that devil had the power to do this either.
Revelation 1:18 "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
Not only did Jesus have the keys of hades and death at this time I believe that God has always had the keys to hades and death which means that God is the one in control and not even the devil would have the power take a soul from this area. I have few more passages that I believe show that once a person dies they do not know aware of what is happening on the earth right now. So when someone says that they think Grandma is looking down on them I do not believe this to be true.
Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.† 6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share In anything done under the sun.
Now this passage is not teaching that we will know nothing in the sense that we are is some unaware state because our story of the rich man and Lazarus makes it clear that we are fully conscience after we die. Instead it is saying† that when we die we will not be aware of what is currently going on in this earth. That is why the last part of verse 6 says that we will never have a share in anything done under the sun. Once we die we cannot receive any more rewards for what we do on the earth because were dead. So, I believe this passage coupled with the story of the rich man and Lazarus shows that no man or devil could speak with or conger up those who have passed away.
Ok now that we have a good foundation built on what the Bibles teaches as a whole on magicians, mediums and the like we can now take a look 1 Sam 28.
1 Samuel 28:3 Now
Samuel had died, and all
Now I going to tell you that this certainly is a difficult text and I wish that there were more details about this encounter with Saul and this medium. But based upon the background study that we did about mediums and the like I do not believe that this lady had the power to really talk to the dead and that she just a fake. I think our first evidence comes from.
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, "Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!"†
First of all we see that she saw something for real this time. Another thing this is implied here is that when Samuel came forth he let her know that this was Saul that standing there because it wasnít until this moment that she knew that it was Saul. We also see that she cried out showing to me that she was surprised about what was going on at this time. Then you will notice that only the medium seems to be able to Samuel but starting in verse 15 it appears the Samuel begins to talk directly to Saul and tells him that he is going to die along with his sons tomorrow. So now here is the question by what power is Samuel speaking to Saul at this time. We have already ruled out the medium having this power so now I want to offer 3 possibilities that I found by commentators and then I will tell which one I think fits the text best.
1. Some seem to think that this whole encounter is nothing but a lie from the witch. In other words she is just putting on a good acting job and she knew all along that Saul was with her. I donít really like this explanation because there just to much going on in the text and to much information that the medium would have to know to pull this trick off.
2. Some have suggested that the devil simply transformed himself into looking like and sounding like Samuel to mess with Saul even more. Now I would say that might possible for the devil to transform himself this way but I again I do not like this explanation because I canít see any reason why the devil would do this for.
3. Now the third explanation is the one that I like the best because it makes the most sense to me. I believe that God allowed Samuel to speak to Saul one last time to show Saul that even if you try to get an answer from the dead that it is not going to change the fact that Gods spirit had left him and that his kingdom was going to be taken from him. This makes the most sense to me because I know that God has the power to do this because he allowed Moses and Elijah to appear with Jesus in front of Peter, James and John and we have seen God get his point across to people in many different ways and so I believe this is the best explanation. This witch was shocked to see this happing for real and God allowed it happen.
Of course this makes Saul very scared and he didnít want to eat. Well, after a bit of coaxing he does finally eat and he and his men leave that place.