Did the ghost of Samuel appear to Saul after his death?

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Did the ghost of Samuel appear to Saul after his death?

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No. There are several important scriptures to consider before we examine the actual story, recorded in 1 Samuel 28:7-25. The first is the verse immediately prior, which informs the reader that "when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets" (1 Samuel 28:6). God was refusing to communicate with Saul through any means, including His prophets. Samuel, even if he had been still alive, would have had nothing to tell Saul. From this we can infer that the "Samuel" who communicated with Saul was not a prophet of God speaking from beyond the grave.

Another important passage is in Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, which says plainly that "the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing...for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going." When we die, we enter a state the Bible likens to "sleep" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14), remaining unconscious until the resurrections at or after Christ's return. There is certainly no soul that lives on, able to communicate with the rest of the living.

Knowing this, the entity Saul communicated with could not possibly have been the ghost or spirit of Samuel, or any other human being. That leaves only the spirit realm as a possibility—and given that God had explicitly cut off communication between Himself (and by extension, His angels) and Saul (compare 1 Samuel 13:14; 28:6 and Isaiah 59:2), we are forced to conclude that the "Samuel" conjured up by the medium of En Dor was a demonic spirit masquerading as God's prophet.

We might ask, "If it was really a demon communicating with Saul, why did it tell him the truth?" (1 Samuel 28:16-19; compare 13:9-14; 15:8-9, 26; 31:2-4). We must remember that the primary goal of Satan and his demons is to destroy us. By selectively telling Saul pieces of the truth, the demon posing as Samuel was able to depress him to the point where Saul was no longer able to stand up (1 Samuel 28:20).

The demon used parts of the truth, while posing as a man of God, to paint a picture of hopelessness. "And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

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  • SweetnessOfGod'sLove

    This is a correct and a truth. Anyone with unbelief about the truth and claim of this post should think about the copying of miracles of plagues on Egypt by the sorcerers, magicians and likes of Egypt in that time. Samuel didn't speak to Saul through any familiar spirit.

  • kimdalene

    Matthew 17:2 - during Jesus’s transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared and began to talk to Jesus. Either they were the spirits of these long deceased prophets, or demons. I do not believe Jesus would suffer demons. I am not saying that Samuel actually came to Saul, but I also believe that if God sends a spirit such as He did with Moses and Elijah, then we need to accept Him at His word.

  • jvklok

    I am surprised no one has pointed to possibly the most obvious reason this was not the "Ghost of Samuel" and that is that the bible says it wasn't in 1 Chronicles 10:13 KJV "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;"
    Notice he inquired of "it" not "him". It was a "Familiar spirit" he actually communicated with not Samuel. A familiar Spirit is a demon that is familiar with the life of the dead person, and familiar with the medium to whom it speaks. What is the agenda of a demonic spirit? It is to steal, kill, and destroy. This demon convinced Saul he was Samuel, and caused Saul to enter a state of depression, from which he never recovered.

  • DayRider

    Greetings all:

    One very important aspect of discourse analysis is to ask, “Who is speaking?” The narrator’s ability to report direct speech by an individual in a passage is always correct. Furthermore, it is only the narrator that ALWAYS understands, sees, hears, and knows the thoughts of people, God, etc., and thus can be absolutely and completely trusted.

    For example, how do we know what the witch of En-dor saw in 1 Samuel 28:12? Is it not the “omniscient” narrator who tells us? It is NOT reported speech from Saul or the witch of En-dor, but from the narrator’s advantage point. Right? So, is the writer of 1 Samuel right or wrong? I choose that he is absolutely correct.

    Furthermore, read the prophecy in vv. 18-19 of what the narrator reports what Samuel says to Saul. Did it come true? Yes, Saul and his sons died in battle the next day and they joined Samuel in the grave (v. 19: “therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me”).

    Isn’t it possible that the LORD temporarily raised Samuel up from the grave to address Saul? Did not Jesus raise Lazarus up—only to die again? Were there not those who were raised in Jerusalem (cf. Matt. 27:52-53)?

  • Skip Miller

    Hello William,
    I like your reasoning AND how could anyone say absolutely what God did (or did not do)
    in any discrete, finite situation ? However that is why a "preponderance of evidence" often
    results in a final judgment. In the case of the witch of En-dor, we have a pretty strong case!
    Saul had gone over to the 'dark side', so to speak in a couple of obvious, wrong ways. His
    messing with demons was simply the ante-penultimate mistake he would make.
    Can God use evil spirits to do God's will? Yes but I don't personally believe that that was the case here. I think it was evil from start to finish

  • JCarnley

    Your answer here is quite unsatisfactory. While you may be right that this is not Samuel the application of the Ecc. passage doesn't fit. It is speaking of wisdom from a normal human perspective. Under normal circumstances the dead and living cannot converse. I would also deny the existence of ghosts. 1 Thess is saying that the physical body is asleep, the spirit is with God and they are not depicted as "soul sleeping." Moses and Elijah hold a conversation with Jesus on the Mt of Transfiguration. Although Elijah never died he is in the same state as Moses who did die. The souls of the martyred witnesses in the book of Revelation cry out from under the alter. The assembly of saints in Hebrews 12 is depicted as a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on in our earthly race.

    This could have been a demon or it could have been a message from God. The spirit certainly says the truth and is accurate about the future. Remember also that demonic forces seem to have a different relationship in the OT than in the NT. In first Kings 13 God allows an evil spirit to spread lies but God still tells the truth through one prophet.

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