Monday, June 27, 2011
across enemy lines
But Saul swore to her by the LORD, "As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing."
1 Samuel 28:10
Saul, in the waning days of his kingdom, has lost all sense of spiritual commitment. He decides to consult a medium in order to summon up the spirit of the dead Samuel. He is concerned about the Philistines encamped against Israel. And Saul crosses all rational spiritual boundaries in this episode.
He had previously enforced the law (to a degree) by driving the practice of spiritism out of Israel (although the law required punishment by death for such activity, Saul managed instead just to drive it from Israel's borders). The result is that Saul actually had to travel about four and a half miles into Philistine territory to even consult this known medium. Saul is breaking God's law across enemy lines to get what he wants.
The medium is an interesting person in herself. She is suspicious that an Israeli would seek her services. His assurances are ironic. He swears by the LORD that she will not be punished. This is the same God that had issued the covenant that forbade such practice. So Saul has really turned God's truth upside down in his mad pursuit.
What is really wild is that God allows this woman to raise the spirit of Samuel up from Sheol. From there Samuel confirms his past prophecies against Saul. It is the last word. And the woman medium is nearly as shook up by the process as Saul was by the prophecy. She is amazed that Samuel's spirit really is summoned. It is clear she has either been a flim flam psychic, or that she was used to cooperating with deceptive demons. When the real man of God comes as a spirit to her home, she is shocked and shaken, just as Saul was.
The bottom line is that God will meet people in the strangest ways. Even in their disobedience, God can choose to "show up" and warn them. That is what happened to Saul. He may have been in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing, with the wrong motives, pursuing the wrong spirituality, but God still interrupted all that string of sin to point him to the truth. And He can choose to do so in His sovereign workings even now.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13