Have you noticed how kind and caring the world has become? Some of the most ungodly individuals are claiming to be the most compassionate, while Christians are portrayed as judgmental and hateful. What does all this mean?
In today’s episode we look at one of the most unusual stories in the Bible. We meet the Medium of En Dor, a kind woman engaged in a dangerous profession. From this most unlikely source, we can gain insight as to how we as Christians should be treating those around us.
In 1 Samuel 28, we find King Saul desperately seeking direction for his life. The prophet Samuel was dead, and when Saul called out himself to God, the Lord didn’t answer him. So in true Saul fashion, he took matters into his own hands.
Although he had driven out the spiritists from the land, his servants told him about a woman in nearby En Dor who conjured up the dead.
He disguised himself and went at night with two other men to consult with the woman. He asked her to conduct a seance for him.
At first she resisted, reminding him that Saul had cut off the soothsayers from the land. She accused them of trying to snare her and get her killed. But Saul assured her that no punishment would come to her.
“Whom shall I bring up for you?” she asked.
“Bring up Samuel for me.”
She screamed when Samuel appeared. Was it because she wasn’t used to people actually appearing from the dead or was it just because with his appearance, she suddenly realized who Saul was? We have no way of knowing.
Saul told her not to be afraid and asked what she saw.
She saw an old man in a robe coming up out of the earth.
Samuel spoke to them and asked Saul why he’d disturbed him.
Saul explained his situation, that the Philistines were making war with him and God was not speaking to him, so he needed to know what to do.
Samuel didn’t tell Saul what to do. Instead, he chastised him and then warned him of what was to come. The Lord would deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines, and Saul and his sons would die.
Upon hearing his destiny, Saul crumbled to the floor, weak with fear and exhaustion as he’d not eaten anything all day or night.
When the woman saw how troubled he was, she begged him to eat something so that he might have strength to go on his way. At first he refused, but she persisted. She killed a fatted calf, baked bread, and served Saul and his servants a home cooked meal. After they ate, they went on their way, and as predicted, he and his sons met a tragic ending.
Why did God allow the woman to conjure up Samuel? Why did He speak to Saul through a medium? We’ll never know.
The Bible is clear on how to handle the supernatural. We must flee from the occult, not engaging in fortune telling, sorcery, magic, or omens. We get our direction from the Lord, and Him only. Saul turned away from God. He ignored God’s advice, deciding he knew best. When he saw his life crumbling before him, and God didn’t come running when he snapped his fingers, he had a choice to make.
He could have gotten down on his knees, humbled himself before the Lord and begged for mercy and wisdom. Instead, he went in the opposite direction. He knew how God felt about soothsayers, but he didn’t care. He ignored God’s teaching and went in the exact opposite direction of where he should have turned.
The woman of En Dor was not a godly woman. She was a pagan woman who made a living as a soothsayer. We’re not sure if she was actually dealing in the occult or if she was a fake, pretending to talk to the dead, but really just deceiving unsuspecting individuals. Either way, she’s not someone we would think of when we think of godly women.
And yet, we can learn much from her.
Saul and this woman were sworn enemies. Although he wasn’t living right, Saul was known as a man of God. This woman would have been an enemy of God, and yet, when Saul came to her in need of her help, she was there for him, even though it was late at night and not within her usual business hours, and was likely, terribly inconvenient for her.
She risked her life for them, as she had no idea if they were legit or just there to trick her.
She did the job she was asked to do.
When she saw how upset Saul was, she was immediately compassionate, trying to nurse him back to health. Even though he was given a death sentence, she did her part to provide for him and his servants, giving them a fatted calf, the very best she had to offer.
What about us? If someone needs us, are we there for them, even if they come at an inconvenient hour? Or do we send them away, telling them to come back at a proper hour?
Do we take risks or make sacrifices in order to be there for our friends and family, much less complete strangers?
When we’re asked to do a job, do we do it right away, or do we procrastinate and make excuses as to why we would rather not?
Most importantly, are we receptive to the needs of those around us? Are we alert to when others are hurting or in pain? Are we quick to offer comfort and compassion?
I’m reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan. Just as it was an ungodly Samaritan who showed compassion for the stranger, so did this pagan woman care for Saul in his time of need.
Christians should be the kindest, most compassionate individuals on the planet, and yet, so often, that’s not the case. We’re so busy trying to be righteous that we neglect kindness. We’re so consumed with our own rights we forget others have rights, too. We’re so absorbed in judging, we miss the humanity of those we’re judging.
All around us are souls in need of a savior. They’re coming to us at all hours of the night. They’re searching for meaning and life. Just as Saul disguised himself, they may disguise their need.
If they come to us seeking and we dismiss them, they will find comfort elsewhere. Right now the world appears to be offering kindness and compassion. They’re saying the right things. Unfortunately, what they’re offering is but a superficial Bandaid trying to cover up deep wounds. The wounds go deep, and people need more than surface help, but if that’s what’s being offered, that’s what they’ll take.
Just as Saul found solace in a soothsayer, so will our neighbors and friends find sympathy in the world rather than in the Lord, if we’re not there to lead them on the path that leads to eternal life.
We’ve got what they’re looking for. We’ve got the answers to their questions, the solutions to their problems. But if we’re hoarding them to ourselves, the world will never know the love and grace that God has to offer them.
Lord God, we come to you humbly asking you to open our eyes so that we might see people as you see them. Reveal to us the unspoken needs of those around us. Give us insight and wisdom to know how to respond when others come to us. May we not be guilty of neglecting to respond to the cries of those surrounding us. Fill our hearts with love and compassion. Forgive us when we succumb to whining or complaining rather than service. Help us to do better in the future. Allow us to be bright lights bringing hope to a dark world. Thank you so much for loving us and blessing us in so many ways. May we always share that love and blessings to others. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
That concludes this week’s episode of All God’s Women. Tune in next week when we talk about Rizpah, a mother devoted to her sons in death as well as life.
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1 Samuel 28
Bible Study Review
- Why did Saul seek out the woman of Endor?
- Why was the woman fearful of Saul?
- What did the woman do when she saw how upset Saul was?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why did the woman scream when she saw Samuel?
- Did it help Saul to hear from Samuel?
- Why didn’t God answer when Saul called out to him?
- Where do you go when you’re seeking direction or advice?
- When God is silent, what do you do?
- How do you respond when people come to you at inconvenient times?
- Are you receptive to the these of those around you?
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