Tag Archives: the afterlife

Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (chapter 28) A Witch and Bad News!

Today’s text is quite amazing, but a bit long.  Let’s look at God’s Word, then make a few observations:
Today we read about Saul doing a terrible thing! He will consult with a witch because he no longer has Samuel from whom he can get advice.

Achish makes David his bodyguard for life as the Philistine army is preparing to fight against Israel. We are then reminded that Samuel has died and that Saul had expelled all the mediums and spiritists from the land (v. 3).

Seeing the Philistine army, Saul is afraid; “terror filled his heart” (v. 5). But his relationship with the Lord was broken. He inquired of the Lord “but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets” (v. 6). Saul then asks about a woman who is a medium! His attendants knew of a woman in Endor.

Saul disguises himself and asks her to bring up a spirit for him. The woman reminds him that the king had cut off all the mediums and spiritists from the land. She asks, “Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?” (v. 9).

But King Saul is desperate and swears that she will not be punished. He asks for the spirit of Samuel — and he gets it! She describes him as an old man wearing a robe. We read, “Then Saul know it was Samuel . . .” (v. 14).

Samuel asks why Saul had disturbed him by bringing him up (v. 15). Saul explains that the Philistines are threatening Israel and “God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams” (v. 15).

Samuel then says to Saul that Saul is now the enemy of the Lord, that the kingdom has been torn from Saul and given it to David, and that he and Israel will be delivered into the hands of the Philistines (because Saul had not carried out the Lord’s fierce wrath against the Amalekites). “Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me,” Samuel says (v. 19).

Saul physically reacts to Samuel’s words, falls full length on the ground, filled with fear. The witch gives him some food, which Saul eats after much urging by the woman and his two men. Saul then left that same night (v. 25).

Some takeaways for me:
1. When one’s relationship with the Lord is broken, there are no limits to what one might do. Saul actually engages in necromancy to get advice about warfare!
2. It would be a useful study to consult commentaries on this episode of the witch of Endor calling up the spirit of Samuel. So many conservative commentators have argued that this isn’t really Samuel, but a demon impersonating Samuel. But the text doesn’t support such a fanciful interpretation. This is Samuel, plain and simple! (I’ve discussed this passage at length in my book When Temptation Strikes).
3. One must ask why King Saul did not simply repent and ask the Lord’s forgiveness for his not annihilating the Amalekites? Repentance does not guarantee relief from the consequences of one’s bad choices, but at least the Lord would not have turned His back on Saul.
4. I’m not a king like Saul, but I must not underestimate my power to make incredibly bad choices out of fear or other motivations.

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Posted by on December 24, 2018 in I Samuel 28


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 49)

Psalm 49

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 6.29.36 AM

Hear this, all you peoples;
    listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
    rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb;
    with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
    when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die,
    that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
    leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
    their dwellings for endless generations,
    though they had named lands after themselves.

12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
    they are like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
    and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;
    death will be their shepherd
    (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
    far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
    he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
    when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
    their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
    and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,
    who will never again see the light of life.

20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
    are like the beasts that perish.

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Posted by on October 15, 2016 in death


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Time for a Great Cartoon! (the afterlife)

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 9.26.24 PM
Don’t you love how Watterson brings up the most critical questions of life (and the afterlife) in his characters?  Several important theological points occur to me from this cartoon:

1. At least Calvin is thinking about the afterlife.  How many in our culture give little to no thought about life after death.

2.  As Hobbes looks around, he sees a beautiful creation that is to be enjoyed.

3.  Hobbes seems perfectly content to lie back against the tree and enjoy the present, good world.  He has no thoughts or worries about a next life.

4.  Calvin, who is always behaviorally challenged, worries about future judgment/rewards.  He wants to know for sure if he is going to be rewarded for his behavior, implying that if there is no judgment, he doesn’t need to be good.

How clear the Bible is about the afterlife.  And he has placed that wondering about eternity in the heart of man.  The central question is not, “How good or bad have you or I behaved?”, but “What have we done with Christ?”

Your thoughts?


Posted by on November 23, 2015 in the afterlife


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