1 Samuel 28
Barnes' Notes
And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.
And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.
Thou shalt know ... - David dissembled (compare also 1 Samuel 29:8), hoping, no doubt, that something would happen to prevent his fighting against his king and country.

Keeper of mine head - Captain of his bodyguard.

Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.
It does not appear when Saul had suppressed witchcraft; it was probably in the early part of his reign.

Familiar spirits ... wizards - i. e. ventriloquists ... wise or cunning men. See Leviticus 19:31 note.

And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.
Gilboa - Now called Jebel Fukuak. But the ancient name is preserved in the village of Jelbon, situated on the south side of the mountain. It was separated from Shunem (see the marginal reference) by the deep valley of Jezreel. The Philistines either advanced along the seacoast, and then entered the valley of Jezreel from the west, or they came by the present road right through Samaria, starting from Aphek 1 Samuel 29:1.

And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.
And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
When Saul inquired of the Lord ... - It is said 1 Chronicles 10:14 that one reason why the Lord killed Saul, and gave his kingdom to David, was because he inquired not of the Lord. The explanation of this apparent discrepancy is to be found in the fact that inquiring of the familiar spirit was positively antagonistic to inquiring of the Lord. That Saul received no answer - when he "inquired of the Lord" by dreams, which was an immediate revelation to himself; by Urim, which was an answer through the high priest clothed in the ephod; or by prophets, which was an answer conveyed through some seer speaking by the Word of the Lord 1 Samuel 22:5 - was a reason for self-abasement and self-examination, to find out and, if possible, remove the cause, but was no justification whatever of his sin in asking counsel of familiar spirits.

Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.
Enquire - A different word from that in 1 Samuel 28:6, though nearly synonymous with it. It is more frequently applied to inquiry of a false god, as e. g. 2 Kings 1:2; Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 19:3.

En-dor (see Joshua 11:2 note) was seven or eight miles from the slopes of Gilboa, on the north of little Hermon, where the Philistines were encamped; so that Saul must have run great risks in going there.

And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.
Divine - Compare to 1 Samuel 6:2, note; Numbers 23:23, note.

Bring me him up - The art of the ventriloquist seems to have been always connected with necromancy. The Greeks had necromancers who called up departed spirits to give answers to those who consulted them.

And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.
Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
Bring me up Samuel - Dr. Trench observes, "All human history has failed to record a despair deeper or more tragic than his, who, having forsaken God and being of God forsaken, is now seeking to move hell; and infinitely guilty as he is, assuredly there is something unutterably pathetic in that yearning of the disanointed king to change words with the friend and counselor of his youth, and if he must hear his doom, to hear it from no other lips but his" ('Shipwrecks of Faith, ' p. 47).

And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
It is manifest both that the apparition of Samuel was real, and also that the woman was utterly unprepared for it.

Why hast thou deceived me ... - She perhaps inferred that Samuel would have answered the call of none inferior to the king. Or it may be the presence of an inhabitant of the world of spirits brought a sudden illumination to her mind.

And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
Gods - אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym is here used in a general sense of a supernatural appearance, either angel or spirit. Hell, or the place of the departed (compare 1 Samuel 28:19; 2 Samuel 12:23) is represented as under the earth Isaiah 14:9-10; Ezekiel 32:18.

And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:
To him - Better, "for Himself," as in the margin.

Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.
Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
Rather, "will deliver Israel also." Saul had not only brought ruin upon his own house but upon Israel also; and when Saul and Jonathan fell the camp (not "host") would be plundered by the conquerors 1 Samuel 31:8; 2 Samuel 1:10.

Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.
And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me.
Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way.
But he refused, and said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed.
The bed - Rather, "the bench" or divan, such as in the East still runs along the wall, furnished with cushions, for those who sit at meals Esther 1:6; Ezekiel 23:41.

And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof:
And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night.
Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

Bible Hub
1 Samuel 27
Top of Page
Top of Page