1 Samuel 28:20
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.
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(20) Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth.—Up to this period we must understand Saul listening to the prophet’s words in that attitude of humble reverence which he assumed when he perceived that he was in the presence of Samuel (1Samuel 28:14); but now, on hearing the words of awful judgment, crushed with terror and dismay, and previously weakened by a long fast and the fatigue of the rough night walk from Mount Gilboa to En-dor, he fell prostrate to the earth.

1 Samuel 28:20. Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth — Struck to the heart, as if the archers of the Philistines had already hit him, at the hearing this dreadful sentence pronounced upon himself, his family, and people; and overcome with astonishment and terror. And was sore afraid because of the words of Samuel — Observe, reader, the words of Samuel, says the inspired historian, and not the words of Satan, or any evil spirit personating Samuel. These words, which he now fully believed, and which were the more awful as being pronounced by a departed spirit, sent from the invisible world on purpose to pronounce them, even the spirit of a great and holy prophet, whom he had once highly revered, and to whom, under God, he had owed all his elevation; these words so operated upon his mind, weakened and oppressed with guilt, and upon his body, exhausted with fatigue and fasting, that no strength, or power of motion, was left in him; and he fell at his full length as dead upon the floor. Unhappy Saul! he now reaps the bitter fruits of forsaking God, and of being therefore forsaken by him, and of his many great and aggravated crimes. Vengeance, which had long hovered over him, and waited in long-suffering for his repentance, now advances with large and rapid strides, and his doom approaches. He is deeply sensible of it, and is overwhelmed with horror and dismay on the account thereof.

28:20-25 Those that expect any good counsel or comfort, otherwise than from God, and in the way of his institutions, will be as wretchedly disappointed as Saul. Though terrified even to despair, he was not humbled. He confessed not his sins, offered no sacrifices, and presented no supplications. He does not seem to have cared about his sons or his people, or to have attempted any escape; but in sullen despair he rushed upon his doom. God sets up a few such beacons, to warn men not to stifle convictions, or despise his word. But while one repenting thought remains, let no sinner suppose himself in this case. Let him humble himself before God, determined to live and die beseeching his favour, and he will succeed.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. 8-14. bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee—This pythoness united to the arts of divination a claim to be a necromancer (De 18:11); and it was her supposed power in calling back the dead of which Saul was desirous to avail himself. Though she at first refused to listen to his request, she accepted his pledge that no risk would be incurred by her compliance. It is probable that his extraordinary stature, the deference paid him by his attendants, the easy distance of his camp from En-dor, and the proposal to call up the great prophet and first magistrate in Israel (a proposal which no private individual would venture to make), had awakened her suspicions as to the true character and rank of her visitor. The story has led to much discussion whether there was a real appearance of Samuel or not. On the one hand, the woman's profession, which was forbidden by the divine law, the refusal of God to answer Saul by any divinely constituted means, the well-known age, figure, and dress of Samuel, which she could easily represent herself, or by an accomplice—his apparition being evidently at some distance, being muffled, and not actually seen by Saul, whose attitude of prostrate homage, moreover, must have prevented him distinguishing the person though he had been near, and the voice seemingly issuing out of the ground, and coming along to Saul—and the vagueness of the information, imparted much which might have been reached by natural conjecture as to the probable result of the approaching conflict—the woman's representation—all of this has led many to think that this was a mere deception. On the other hand, many eminent writers (considering that the apparition came before her arts were put in practice; that she herself was surprised and alarmed; that the prediction of Saul's own death and the defeat of his forces was confidently made), are of opinion that Samuel really appeared. Saul fell along on the earth, being quite dispirited with these sad and surprising tidings, and so unable to stand.

Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth,.... Fell at his full length at once, as if he had been thunderstruck, or pierced through with a dart or sword:

and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel; as he supposed they were, whose words never failed:

and there was no strength in him: to rise up again, he was quite dispirited and strengthless:

for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night; which contributed the more to his weakness; not only his fears, but not eating any food, occasioned his weakness, and that through want of an appetite, by reason of the great concern of his mind in his present troubles.

Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore {i} 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.

(i) The wicked when they hear God's judgments, tremble and despair, but cannot seek for mercy by repentance.

20–25. Saul entertained by the woman

20. all along] His full length, lit. “the fulness of his stature.” Terror of mind and exhaustion of body left him powerless.

Verses 20-25. - Saul fell straightway all along, i.e. at full length, on the earth. He fainted, partly from mental distress, partly from bodily exhaustion, as he had gone all the day and all the night without food. It was this long continued violent emotion of feeling which had driven Saul to this rash enterprise; but fasting and agony of mind were the worst possible preparation for a visit to one used to cajole her victims by pretended magical arts, and gifted, as people of her class usually are, with great shrewdness. But practised as she was in deceit, yet even in her triumph over her enemy she felt, when she saw him swoon away, a natural sympathy for his misery and weakness, and urged him to take food. Perhaps she saw that without it he could never have got back to the Israelite camp. At first he refused, but the necessity of it was so plain, that when the two men with him also urged it, he at last consented. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed. During this colloquy he had remained prostrate upon the ground, but now he seated himself, not on a bed, but upon the raised bank, or divan, which runs along the wall of an Oriental house, and is furnished with carpets and cushions for men to sit or lie upon. There he rested, a prey, we may well believe, to bitter thoughts, while the woman hastily prepared a meal, killing a calf and baking unleavened cakes, as there was no time to leaven the dough. And so "they ate, and rose up, and departed that night."

1 Samuel 28:20These words so alarmed him, that he fell his whole length upon the ground; for he had been kneeling hitherto (1 Samuel 28:14). He "fell straightway (lit. he hastened and fell) upon the ground. For he was greatly terrified at the words of Samuel: there was also no strength in him, because he had eaten no food the whole day and the whole night," sc., from mental perturbation or inward excitement. Terror and bodily exhaustion caused him to fall powerless to the ground.
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