1 Samuel 28:3-7 (New Living Translation)
Meanwhile, Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him. He was buried in Ramah, his hometown. And Saul had banned from the land of Israel all mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. The Philistines set up their camp at Shunem, and Saul gathered all the army of Israel and camped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the vast Philistine army, he became frantic with fear. He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord refused to answer him, either by dreams or by sacred lots or by the prophets. Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do.”
Mediums were people who called up the spirits of the dead to communicate with the living. The medium would pass on to the client messages from dead relatives, loved ones, and famous personalities. Today’s passage is sadly ironic, because it was King Saul himself who had outlawed mediums in his land. And now he now seeks out the medium in the Canaanite village of Endor. Saul wants to talk again with Samuel, hoping that he will hear a word of hope from this dead prophet.
More sad irony: this is the same dead prophet who rarely had a word of hope for Saul while he was alive. Why Saul thinks this is a good idea is completely, totally baffling.
Dictionary.com defines desperation as “reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency.” That certainly describes Saul’s mental state. He’s so panicked that he makes the terrible decision to do what he knows full well he ought not to do.
When we’re faced with a situation that seems utterly out of control, we, too, can easily be tempted to make decisions that are not in line with what we know to be God’s will. So, how do we keep ourselves from falling into temptation to do the “easy thing” instead of the healthy thing?
By immersing ourselves in God’s word. By learning everything we can about who God is, and what God teaches us about how we are to live. By worshipping together and celebrating God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. By spending time in prayer, seeking God’s guidance, being completely honest with God, and laying every part of our lives before God. By serving others in need. By having people in our lives who will lovingly tell us the hard truth, no matter what.
How different Saul’s story could have been if he had done these things from the very beginning of his reign. And how amazing our own stories will be when we do!
What actions can you take this week to strengthen your relationship with God and your understanding of God’s love?