Summary: In today’s lesson we see spiritual low point of Saul’s life when he reaches out to the occult for spiritual direction, and we learn from the lesson that God’s faithful people never turn in that direction.
A. The story is told of two brothers, from a small town, who, over the course of many years, cheated, swindled, robbed and generally stole from everyone that they ever did business with.
1. The entire town and surrounding community reviled and despised these two brothers as everyone was aware of just how disreputable and dishonest they were.
2. One day, one of the brothers mysteriously died.
3. Although they had never attended church, the one remaining brother went to the local preacher and offered to contribute to the church vast sums of money if he would come to the funeral and say the appropriate words, AND, a an additional large bonus, if and ONLY if he would - during the course of the eulogy -refer to his brother as “a Saint.”
4. The preacher was troubled by the request, however, it was a very poor church and the church desperately needed repairs.
5. Members of the congregation had heard about the preacher’s dilemma and were curious as to what he would do.
6. The Funeral began, the funeral home was packed, and the preacher started with the usual prayers and followed the customary rites and traditions.
7. As he closed the service, he paused and turned to face the remaining brother, saying, “As you all know, the departed was an awful individual who robbed, cheated, swindled and stole from everyone he ever did business with. However, compared to his brother, who is still with us, he was – ‘a Saint!’”
B. As we will see as our study of the life of David progresses, in comparison to Saul, David was a saint – well, I’m not sure I would go that far – David committed his share of sins.
1. So David certainly was not perfect, but he always had a humble and contrite heart, and turned back to the Lord after he had gone astray.
2. Saul on the other hand was a different story.
C. In our lesson today we will follow the story of 1 Samuel which turns its attention away from what was going on with David to what was going on with Saul.
1. We will be working through 1 Samuel chapter 28.
2. Next week, Lord willing, we will look at the entanglements David has gotten himself into with the Philistines.
3. The narrator forces us to wait to see how the tension between David and the Philistines is resolved by inserting this story about Saul into the middle of the situation.
A. Today’s story begins, “The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all the Israelites and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. (1 Sam. 28:4-6)
1. Chapter 28 marks the spiritual low point in Saul’s life and records one of the darkest hours of his reign as king.
2. As we have discussed in previous lessons, Saul has made his share of major mistakes.
3. Early on in his reign, he had made the terrible mistake of offering the sacrifice that only priests were allowed to offer. He did so because Samuel’s arrival was delayed, and he and his men were afraid the battle would begin before Samuel got there.
4. His most significant act of disobedience came later when he disobeyed a clear and direct command from God.
5. It was at that time when God informed him, through Samuel that the kingdom would be removed from him and given to another.
6. At that point, both God and Samuel stopped working with Saul.
7. So it is no surprise at this point, that Saul is afraid and that God is not responding to him in the typical ways – through prophets, dreams and the Urim.
B. Therefore, Saul becomes more desperate.
1. He acts like a person who is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
a. At first that person may try all the clinics and experts.
b. When nothing conventional is working, then they may turn to any treatment available, no matter how experimental or illegal – some have to leave the country to get those treatments.
2. And so when the approved religion will not meet Saul’s needs, he goes elsewhere.
3. So what did Saul do? The Bible says, “Saul then said to his attendants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.’ ‘There is one in Endor,’ they said.” (1 Sam. 28:7)
4. So in desperation, Saul turns to the occult for his spiritual insight.
5. In the Hebrew, the phrase translated “medium” literally reads, “a woman who is a mistress of necromancy,” that is, one who consults the dead.