|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
28:7-19 When we go from the plain path of duty, every thing draws us further aside, and increases our perplexity and temptation. Saul desires the woman to bring one from the dead, with whom he wished to speak; this was expressly forbidden, De 18:11. All real or pretended witchcraft or conjuration, is a malicious or an ignorant attempt to gain knowledge or help from some creature, when it cannot be had from the Lord in the path of duty. While Samuel was living, we never read of Saul's going to advise with him in any difficulties; it had been well for him if he had. But now he is dead, Bring me up Samuel. Many who despise and persecute God's saints and ministers when living, would be glad to have them again, when they are gone. The whole shows that it was no human fraud or trick. Though the woman could not cause Samuel's being sent, yet Saul's inquiry might be the occasion of it. The woman's surprise and terror proved that it was an unusual and unexpected appearance. Saul had despised Samuel's solemn warnings in his lifetime, yet now that he hoped, as in defiance of God, to obtain some counsel and encouragement from him, might not God permit the soul of his departed prophet to appear to Saul, to confirm his former sentence, and denounce his doom? The expression, Thou and thy sons shall be with me, means no more than that they shall be in the eternal world. There appears much solemnity in God's permitting the soul of a departed prophet to come as a witness from heaven, to confirm the word he had spoken on earth.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Moreover, the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hands of the Philistines,.... Not a word of comfort does he speak unto him, it being the business of this foul spirit to drive him to despair by the permission of God; had he been the true Samuel, he would have directed him to have altered his course of life, and especially his behaviour toward David, and advised him in those difficulties to send for him, who might have been of singular use unto him; he would have exhorted him to repentance for his sins, and humiliation before God on account of them, and given him hope on this that God would appear for him, and work deliverance, as he had done; but instead of this tells him, that he and his army would be delivered into the hands of the Philistines, which he might make a shrewd guess at, and venture to say from the circumstances of things, and the situation Saul and his people were in; the armies of the Philistines were very numerous, and those of Israel comparatively weak; Saul was quite dispirited, and God had forsaken him:
and tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me; which if understood in what sense it may, seems to be a lie of the devil, and at best an ambiguous expression, such as he has been wont to give in the Heathen oracles; if he meant this of himself as an evil spirit, it could not be true of Saul and all his sons, that they should be with him in hell, especially of Jonathan who appears throughout the whole of his life to have been a good man; if he would have it understood of him as representing Samuel, and of their being with him in heaven, it must be a great stretch of charity to believe it true of Saul, so wicked a man, and who died in the act of suicide; though the Jews (k), some of them, understand it in this sense, that his sins were pardoned, and he was saved; and if it is taken in the sense of being in the state of the dead, and in the earth, from whence he is said to ascend, and where the body of Samuel was, which seems to be the best sense that is put upon the phrase, "with me"; yet this was not true, if he meant it of all the sons of Saul, as the expression seems to suggest; for there were Ishbosheth, and his two sons by Rizpah, which survived him; nor was it true of Saul and his sons that they were cut off, and that they died the next day; for the battle was not fought till several days after this, see 1 Samuel 28:23; if it should be said, that "tomorrow" signifies some future time, and not strictly the next day, this shows the ambiguity of the expression used, and the insignificance of it to the present purpose; for who knew not that Saul and his sons would die some time or another?
the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines; which is only a repetition of what is said in the first clause.
(k) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 12. 2.
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