It is a rather lengthy analysis (of both the WT reasoning, and my counterpoint). And it was early in my waking up. So it shows where I was at the time. But here it is:
Who was it that
was speaking to Saul after the spirit medium at En-dor ‘raised up’ an entity
whom Saul identified as Samuel the prophet? (1Sa 28:3–19) What exactly was
going on there?
identifying the source of a voice from the spirit realm from some 3000 years in
the past is a tall order. If it can be done with certainty it will take close
attention to details. But that is what we will do here. And since a viewpoint
has already been expressed in the case [the Watchtower's], we will begin by looking at the reasons
for deciding that way.
The Case for Saying That the Voice was
several reasons for assuming that the person speaking to Saul was a demon.
Foremost would be the fact that this spirit entity was summoned by means of the
practice of spiritism. This avenue of seeking counsel was condemned by God
through the Mosaic Law. (Le 19:31;
20:6; De 18:9–14; 1Ch 10:13)
Although Saul might not have had all the details as to why it was condemned, he
should have known that dead humans could not respond and that this was
something that depraved pagans did. Reasons enough for avoiding it. (Gen 2:17; 3:17, 18; Le 18:1–5, 24–30)
that, the question has been asked: Could the witch at En-dor force Jehovah to
speak on this occasion, especially considering the fact that, previous to this,
Jehovah had cut off all communication with Saul? (1Sa 28:6) Thus, this would
certainly weigh heavily in favor of saying that the voice was of a demonic
for saying that the voice must have been of demons is that the prophetic words
spoken did not entirely come true. If this allegation is on the mark, then it
would be conclusive. Jehovah is “the God of truth” and he “cannot lie.” (Ps
31:5; Tit 1:2) Such inaccurate prophetic statements would have to be from some
other source. What statements are alleged to have not come true?
One has to do
with how Saul died. The battle account says that the Philistine ‘shooters, the
bowmen, finally found [Saul], and he got severely wounded by the shooters. Then
Saul said to his armor-bearer: “Draw your sword and run me through with it,
that these uncircumcised men may not come and certainly run me through and deal
abusively with me.” And his armor-bearer was unwilling, because he was very
much afraid. So Saul took the sword and fell upon it. When his armor-bearer saw
that Saul had died, then he too fell upon his own sword and died with him. Thus
Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer, even all his men, came to die
together on that day.’ (1Sa 31:3–6)
Here is what
the spirit entity foretold would happen: “And Jehovah will also give Israel with you
into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with
me. Even the camp of Israel Jehovah will give into the hand of the Philistines.”
The argument is
made that Saul was not ‘given into the hand of the Philistines.’ Rather, he ran
himself through with his own sword. And thus, as the argument goes, the
prediction did not prove completely true.
argument concerning the truthfulness of these words is in regard to Saul’s
sons. The spirit entity said: “Tomorrow you and
your sons will be with me [in death].” But Ish-bosheth, one of Saul’s sons,
did not die in that battle. (2Sa 2:8–10) So, in saying “your sons,” one was
left out, making the prediction inaccurate.
In support of
these proofs are an array of well known Bible scholars and commentators ranging
throughout centuries of history. (See it-2
pp.1027–8 under the subtitle “King Saul’s visit to a medium.”) And thus, the side for saying that it was the
demons speaking, rests its case.
Cross Examining the Evidence
acknowledged that the fact that a witch was involved weighs heavily in favor of
saying that the voice was demonic. But is that fact, in this case, decisively conclusive?
in the days of Moabite king Balak? He hired Balaam, a practicer of spiritism,
to curse Israel.
Evidently, Balaam was good at what he did since Balak specifically sought him. Balaam
three times made pronouncements regarding Israel for Balak. Now ask yourself:
Does the fact that he was a spiritist prove that it was the demons who spoke on
those three occasions? True, on most occasions, one could assume that demons
were speaking through him. But not on this occasion. Jehovah spoke through him
to Balak to prevent any cursing of Israel. (Num 23:4, 5; 24:12, 13)
And what if
someone used the argument that ‘Balaam could not force Jehovah to speak through
him’? That is a true statement. But in this case, it was not a matter of Balaam
forcing Jehovah. Jehovah forced him.
another occasion. Israelite King Ahab was seeking counsel for war with Syria. So King Jehoshaphat
said: ‘ “Inquire, please, first of all for the word of Jehovah.” So the king of
collected the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them:
“Shall I go against Ramothgilead in war, or shall I refrain?” And they began to
say: “Go up, and Jehovah will give it into the king’s hand.” ’ This didn’t
satisfy Jehoshaphat, so he said: “Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah still?
Then let us inquire through him.” At this, Micaiah, a prophet hated by Ahab,
was called. (1Ki 22:4–9)
Micaiah pointed out that Jehovah had indeed spoken through Ahab’s false
prophets by means of one of his angels. (1Ki 22:19–23) Of course, Ahab’s prophets may or may not have
been involved in spiritistic practices. But, on the whole, they were supporters
of the false religion setup in the Northern ten tribe kingdom. (1Ki 12:25–33) They were also supporters
of wicked Ahab. For the most part, you would not normally expect Jehovah to
speak through them. (2Ch 19:1, 2; Jer 23:13, 14, 16, 17) This may have been why
Jehoshaphat asked for another prophet to speak. Yet, as Micaiah pointed out,
Jehovah did speak through those prophets of Ahab on that occasion, albeit
deceptively. (Compare 1Ki 22:22,
23 – “his prophets,” “these prophets of yours”)
All of this
does not prove that Jehovah spoke as “Samuel” at En-dor. What it does do is, it
opens up the possibility of him having done so. The fact that a witch was
involved would not automatically rule out the possibility that Jehovah chose to
speak on that occasion.
speaking to Saul on that occasion would not be outside of the Bible’s
description of God’s personality. In what way?
When Balaam was
determined to curse Israel
for the payment, after having been warned not to do so, Jehovah intervened in
an extraordinary way by positioning an angel to block him and causing his ass
to speak. (Num 22:20–35) Similarly, when Moses persisted in his reluctance to
go as Jehovah’s spokesman to Pharaoh, “then Jehovah’s anger grew hot against
Moses” and he took the step of assigning Aaron as his mouthpiece. (Ex 4:13–16)
Saul, as king of Israel,
took the extraordinary step of seeking counsel through a spirit medium, after
Jehovah had blocked normal channels, it would not be unprecedented for Jehovah
to react angrily and intercept that effort. The tone of the words that the
spirit entity at En-dor spoke do match that aspect of Jehovah’s personality.
does not prove that Jehovah spoke on that occasion. But it does leave open the
possibility that he did.
What About Saul’s Death?
What about the
idea that the words were inaccurate because it was Saul that actually killed
himself rather than the Philistines. Well, what exactly did the spirit entity
say would happen to Saul? “And Jehovah will also give Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines,
and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.” (1Sa 28:19)
Did the fact
that a severely wounded Saul, his position near to being overrun, finished
himself off with his own sword, did that prove that he had not been ‘given into
the hand of the Philistines’? (1Sa 31:3–5; 2Sa 1:6–9) For example, would that detail
keep the Philistines from celebrating a victory over Saul and Israel in that
battle, as if Saul had somehow cheated them? Not according to David’s dirge as
recorded in 2 Samuel 1:20. As far as the Philistines were concerned, Saul and
the Israelites had indeed been given into their hand, although they likely
credited their own god rather than Jehovah.
in David’s reign, the same Bible writers referred to what happened on that
battlefield. How did they then describe what had happened? 2 Samuel 21:12 says: “So David went and took
the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the landowners of
Jabeshgilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan,
where the Philistines had hanged them on
the day that the Philistines struck down Saul on Gilboa.”
the Bible writers of this account, the fact that Saul had actually finished himself
off did little to change the outcome of that battle. Notice too how First
Chronicles 10:14 describes
what happened: “And [Saul] did not inquire of Jehovah. Consequently he put him
to death and turned the kingship over to David the son of Jesse.” Here, Jehovah
is credited with putting Saul to death, although, technically, Saul did the
with regard to Saul’s death, were “Samuel’s” words that ‘Saul would be given
into the hand of the Philistines’ really all that incorrect? Not really. Not unless
you were holding the speaking entity to an exactness of speech that even the
Bible does not do.
What About the Phrase “Your Sons”?
entity at En-dor also told Saul that “your sons” would also die on that day.
Yet Ish-bosheth, one of Saul’s sons, the youngest, did not die that day. In
fact, it was about two years later when he was killed by some of his own men.
(2Sa 4:5–8) Was “your sons,” then, a factual mistake?
31:2 says: “And the Philistines kept in close range of Saul and his sons; and
the Philistines at last struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua,
Saul’s sons.” Here, “Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua” are referred to as
“his sons” and “Saul’s sons,” without mentioning the fact that Ish-bosheth was
also one of “Saul’s sons.” Similarly, First Chronicles 10:1–8 refers to “Saul
and his sons” (vs.2), “Saul and his sons had died.” (vs.7) Here also the
context makes it clear that “his sons” was referring to the three that died
without bothering to mention Ish-bosheth.
Ish-bosheth die also? First Chronicles 10:6 makes that clear when it adds: “And
all those of his house died together.” Obviously, “all those of [Saul’s] house”
referred to all those of his house that
died on the battlefield that day. Ish-bosheth did not die that day because
he was not on the battlefield with his father. But why not?
There are at
least two good reasons why he wasn’t there. The first was likely because of
concerns for preserving Saul’s lineage. This would have concerned any
Israelite, but especially a king. (Compare Nu 27:6–11; De 25:5, 6; 2Sa 18:18; 2Ki 11:1–3) The second reason
has to do with the fact that, according to the Bible record, Ish-bosheth was
not a very valiant man. He did not appear to be the type of person an
experienced warrior like Saul would want fighting for him. (1Sa 10:26; 14:52; 16:18,
19; Compare De 1:28; 20:8;
Ac 21:13; Contrast 2Sa
3:6–11 with 1Ki 2:13–25.
See also Insight Volume I, under
So think about
that. When Saul went to the witch at En-dor, he would have already known which
sons were going into battle with him and which one was not. When the spirit
entity said that the camp of Israel
would be given to the Philistines and that “your sons” would die, would not
Saul naturally understand that he meant the three that were going to fight with
him against the Philistines?
Or would the
spirit entity, no matter who he was, interrupt the force of his powerful message
in order to insert, what amounts to, a technical detail, especially when he
knew that Saul understood exactly what he meant? The Bible writers at First
Samuel 31:2 and First Chronicles 10:2, 7 felt no need to add this detail. Why
should this entity have to?
Or look at it
this way. What if, just for the sake of argument, you believed that the entity
speaking was Jehovah? And what if someone tried to tell you that Jehovah’s
words, there at En-dor, did not come true? Would you not use these very
arguments to defend God’s words as being completely truthful? If you would,
then, in all fairness, you would also have to do that no matter who was
speaking, would you not?
So really, given
the context they were spoken in, it is not unreasonable to say that these words
by the spirit entity were factually correct. Still, keep in mind what this does
and what this does not do. It does keep open the possibility that Jehovah was
speaking. But it does not prove that he did, for it is still possible for the
demons to pass along truthful information for reasons of their own choosing. (Mr 1:24; Lu 4:34; 2Co 11:14)
Of course, in
order to pass along truthful information, one would first have to have access
Putting the Events in Order
ages, Jehovah God has displayed an amazing ability to read the future. There
are others, though, who have also shown some
ability to do this. Meteorologists, for example, reading satellite and other
sensor data, have sometimes predicted or “forecast” the weather with amazing
accuracy, providing aviators and sailors an invaluable service.
Thus, to some
extent, the ability to predict the future is directly related to one’s
knowledge and understanding of the subject involved. By that standard it is no
surprise that Jehovah excels at prophesying. But to illustrate the supreme
advantage that Jehovah holds, imagine a meteorologist who could choose next week’s weather! (Le 26:3, 4;
Joel 2:23; Am 4:7)
In theory, Satan’s
ability to accurately predict the future would fall somewhere in between these
two. With that in mind, consider how the events of First Samuel chapters 27 thru
31 help us to identify the entity speaking as “Samuel” at First Samuel chapter 28.
(The See The Good Land Brochure is an
excellent aid for this. See pages 18–19.)
describes how David and his men fled to Philistia
to escape Saul’s efforts to kill him. During their 16 month stay, David was
assigned to live in Ziklag. From there, he made raids on areas of southern Judah and
Achish, king of Gath,
thought David was raiding Israelite settlements. Thus, Achish thought, “[David]
has unquestionably become a stench among his people Israel; and he will have to become
my servant to time indefinite.” David, on the other hand, was leading Achish to
believe this. He was carefully making sure that no survivors remained that might
cause Achish to conclude differently. Perhaps David thought that this ruse was
necessary while he was living in enemy territory. At the same time, he was
clearing the promised land of illegal foreigners in preparation for his coming
takes us to the eve of the battle between Saul’s army and the Philistines. The
huge army of Philistia is encamped in the area
between Shunem and Jezreel. (Compare 1Sa 28:4 with 1Sa 29:11 for location;
Compare 1Sa 28:5 with 1Sa 29:1, 2 for size.) A fearful Saul disguises himself
and goes diagonally behind enemy lines to En-dor to speak with the spirit
medium that lives there. The message he receives is stunning.
Then chapter 29
backs up a number of days and describes the massing of the Philistine army at
Aphek, some 50 to 60 miles to the south of Jezreel. Here, David and his men are
joining in with the Philistine army for battle with Israel. And Achish has every
intention of letting him do that. He is convinced that David will serve
loyally. But the axis lords of Philistia don’t
see things that way. As the troops pass in review, they indignantly ask: “What
do these Hebrews mean?” They even recognize David himself. Sure that this will
lead to trouble, they insist that David go home to Ziklag. Achish reluctantly
gives in to their wish. David, still, attempts to convince Achish to let him
go. But Achish sends him home. The next morning, David heads south for Ziklag
while the Philistines break camp and head north to Jezreel. The travel time to
Ziklag appears roughly equivalent to the travel time to Jezreel, but they are
in opposite directions.
describes what happens when David and his men arrive in Ziklag. Earlier in the
day, a marauding band burned the city and took their families captive and then
headed back south towards Egypt.
David and his men take up the chase and catch up with them the next day south
of the torrent valley
of Besor. In a day long
battle, they make a deliverance and then head back home to Ziklag, arriving
there probably a couple of days later. From here, he sends out ‘gift blessings’
to those that supported him.
describes Saul’s battle with the Philistine army that ends in defeat for Israel and
death for Saul and his sons. This battle takes place probably a day or two
after David and his men battle the marauding band.
The Entity at En-dor Knew Too Much
There are a
couple of things about this account that indicate that it was not the demons
speaking at En-dor.
Ask yourself: Why
was David attempting to join the Philistine military effort against Saul? It
could not have been so as to defeat Saul. Twice before David had refused to do
him injury. (1Sa 24:1–7; 26:1–13) And after the battle he punished those who claimed
to do injury to Saul and his family. (2Sa 1:1–16; 4:5–12) The Philistine axis
lords were right. David was going to attempt a rescue of Saul. (1Sa 29:1–5)
But that also tells
us something else. David did not know that this was the battle that Saul would
be “swept away” in. (1Sa 26:10) Jehovah did not reveal that to him. But several
days later, after David had been sent home, the spirit entity that spoke to
Saul spoke as if he knew for sure that Saul would die in this battle. If it was
a demon, then how could he speak with such certainty? How did he know for sure
what David did not know at all. And how could he know for sure that the battle
would end disastrously in just one day? (1Sa 28:19 – “tomorrow”)
But, just for
the sake of argument, suppose Satan chanced a calculated guess about those
things. Some might think that a possibility. His spirit realm vantage point
would allow him to see all of the forces involved and their battle strategies.
(Although, historically, even those things have not always been decisive,
especially when Jehovah is involved. Compare Ps 33:16, 17; Pr 21:31; Ec 9:11) But how could he also know for sure that
Jonathan would die? Had not Jonathan proved himself a valiant fighter in the
past. Had he not also had Jehovah’s approval, and still had it, for all we know?
(1Sa 14:1–14, 44, 45) He had humbly supported David, even making a covenant
with him. (1Sa 18:1–3; 20:9–17; 23:16–18) How could Satan know for sure that
Jehovah would not at least rescue him in the coming battle?
The answer is obvious:
He couldn’t know. The words of the spirit entity at En-dor were not only correct,
they were too correct, too detailed, and under those circumstances, spoken with
too much authority to have been from Satan. They were spoken by someone who
knew exactly what was going to
The Message at En-dor Was All Wrong
We started by
recounting the argument as to why it had to be the demons speaking. According
to that argument, there were minor inaccuracies in the prediction. Actually, if
this was the demons speaking there at En-dor, then, everything they said was wrong. How so?
3:15, Jehovah foretold that there would be enmity by Satan and his seed against
‘the woman and her seed.’ For Satan, this hatred has been a logical necessity.
That woman’s seed was foretold to eventually bruise him in the head, a death
blow. If he wishes to continue in power, then, he must do something to that
seed before it can do something to him.
This hatred is
what has driven much of Satan’s strategy since that time, just as God had said.
Thus, Jehovah not only foretold the future on that day in Eden, he directed it to happen by giving
Satan the information that he did. This, of course, does not make Jehovah
responsible for the hatred shown since then. Nor does it harm God’s servants in
the long run since he “makes all his works cooperate together for the good of
those who love God.” (Ro 8:28) But Jehovah God has limited the extent of
Satan’s efforts by revealing only so much at any one time. (Compare Gen 3:14)
In the days of
David and Saul, what information was available to Satan about the seed? He would
have known that the seed would be through the tribe of Judah and that
he would be a commander or ruler. (Gen 49:10) He knew that David was of that
tribe and had been anointed by Jehovah as king. (1Sa 16:1, 13) And he also knew
that Saul was not of that tribe and that Saul was intent on killing David.
Further, he had witnessed the fact that David always relied on Jehovah and had
proved successful in battle against non-Israelites, striking down his “tens of
thousands.” (1Sa 18:7) For Satan, at that time, Saul’s remaining in power was
his best opportunity to get at the seed of the woman.
When Saul came
to the spirit medium at En-dor, he was hoping she could bring up Samuel. One
wonders why he thought that she could do that. Perhaps it was symptomatic of
how far he had departed from Jehovah. He had probably stopped reading God’s
Word. (De 17:14, 18–20) He was also quite desperate. His words do indicate that
he was not expecting to get in touch with demons. (1Sa 28:5, 11) But in fact,
that is exactly what should have happened.
But now look at
these same events from Satan’s standpoint. Saul had been a useful tool to him
in trying to get at the promised seed. In fact, he was the best thing going for
Satan at the time. Unfortunately, for Satan, the Mosaic Law prevented him from
directly advising Saul. (Le 19:31)
When David was
attempting to join the Philistine camp for battle, Satan, unlike Achish, could
see what he was trying to do, that he was going to attempt a rescue of Saul.
For Satan, the best course was to let him. Nothing bad could come from it.
Either David would die trying, or he would keep Saul in power. Maybe both. It
had to have been Jehovah that sent David home that day at Aphek. (1Sa 29:6–11)
Unknown to David, Jehovah had determined to bring Saul’s rule to an end at that
later, Saul came to the spirit medium to get some useful counsel that might
save him. What a golden opportunity this was for Satan to keep Saul’s rulership
alive and perhaps give him another opportunity to try to kill David. Why not
tell him to retreat? Or why not have him take a force of several thousand to
Ziklag and attack David and his exhausted men? The Philistines would be pinned
down fighting the rest of the Israelite army at Mount Gilboa.
They would be unable to block him. (Compare 1Sa 27:1, 4)
Yet, the spirit
entity that spoke with Saul did not do that. In strong, forceful language, he
reiterated and confirmed what Jehovah had already said would happen to Saul. Why
would Satan do that, against his own interests? The only answer that makes
sense is: He wouldn’t. Which can only mean one thing: That wasn’t him that was
speaking there at En-dor.
On the other
hand, if Jehovah had already determined to end Saul’s rulership at that time,
it makes good sense that he would prevent Saul from getting Satanic counsel
that might alter the chosen course of events.
The Strongest Proof That Jehovah Spoke
indication of all that it was Jehovah speaking as “Samuel” is contained right
there within the words that were spoken. Read again the words at First Samuel
28:16–19. Do you see it? Seven times. (Compare 2Ti 2:19)
There are only
a few places in the Bible where Satan and his demons are directly quoted. But
never once will you find them using Jehovah’s name. Sometimes, people that they
employ will use the name, but never them. (Gen 3:1–5; Job 1:6–12;
2:1–7;4:14–21; Mt 4:1–7; 8:29; Mr 1:24; Lu 4:1–8; 4:34; Ac 16:16, 17)
Evidently, the Name
and its meaning are repugnant to them. Perhaps this is an indication of what
James was speaking of at James 2:19. And this coincides with their effort to
remove it from the Bible as well as the protection servants of God have found
when calling upon him by name. (Pr 18:10)
This may very
well explain why Jehovah has left the identity of “Samuel” misunderstood until
now. By leaving, what appeared to be, an example of the demons using his name,
God has left open the possibility that Satan might do so. He is, after all,
capable of “every unrighteous deception.” (2Th 2:9, 10) This possibility can be
seen by looking at how things would be if the identity of “Samuel” was
have been no examples of Satan or the demons using God’s name in the Bible.
Alert Bible students would have taken note of that. And some might have
concluded that any voice from the spirit realm that used God’s name could not
be demonic. This would have given Satan the incentive to begin using it as a
By leaving that
part of the account misunderstood, God’s servants are kept alert to the
possibility of demon deception in this way. At the same time, it removes a
possible incentive for the demons to make a deceptive use of God’s name in this
way. It is a good example of what Jesus was saying at John 16:12 and has the effect of telling the demons
to “be silent” when it comes to using God’s holy name.
Satan knew who was actually speaking as “Samuel” there at En-dor. But to
correct the understanding so as to exploit it, he would also have to show that
God’s name belonged in the account. History makes it evident that he chose not
to do that.)
[End - I told you it was a little long winded!]