1 & 2 Samuel: Day 18

Saul and the Medium at Endor

by

Today's Text: 1 Samuel 28:1-25, 1 Samuel 29:1-11, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Proverbs 1:28

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 28:1-25, 1 Samuel 29:1-11, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Proverbs 1:28

One frigid winter evening when my husband was still in grad school, I tried to call him. He had been out with friends after finishing finals, while I was already home for Christmas, several states away. When he didn’t answer his phone around 9pm, I wasn’t too worried. I called again an hour or so later, just before I went to bed, and he still didn’t answer. Then I sent off a few texts, each more worried than the last, hoping he would respond.

I darted in and out of sleep, checking my phone, calling, and texting, until about 4am, when he finally texted me back to say he had fallen asleep well before 9:00—the hard, deep sleep of a post-finals student who had forgotten to charge his mobile phone, rendering it useless. And while we were quickly able to laugh about it, I can still feel my heart racing when I think about how I felt that night, several states away, not able to get in touch with him for hours. I would’ve done anything for an answer, for the assurance that he was okay.

Saul is in a frantic panic in 1 Samuel 28. He knows the Philistines are ready to fight at Mount Gilboa. He knows God has rejected him as king (1 Samuel 15:23). He knows Samuel is dead—Samuel, who had been with him since his anointing, who’d walked with him and guided him in the ways of the Lord. Desperate for answers, Saul has sought the Lord about how he should face the Philistines. But the Lord is silent because He’s rejected Saul, leaving him to feel very, very alone.

And so Saul, the warrior king who’d chosen his own pride over the Lord so many times before, again seeks his own comfort and control first. He consults a medium—after declaring all mediums illegal and sending them out of Israel—for the answer he so desperately needs. He asks her to bring forth Samuel, who appears and tells Saul that he and his sons will die in the next day’s battle.

I can hardly breathe if I put myself in Saul’s shoes. The desperation he must’ve felt before visiting the medium would have been silenced by that cold truth. He would lose the battle. He would no longer be king, nor would his sons inherit the throne. The years of turning away from the Lord and seeking his own glory had left him there, alone.

When I think about how often I obsess over the future—running worst-case scenarios through my head, working myself into a panic—I realize that I’m tempted in the same ways Saul was. It’s so much easier to take matters into my own hands, to live for my own glory, and to forget about the Lord’s steadfast faithfulness. Perhaps if Saul had reflected on how faithful the Lord had been to the people of Israel, he would’ve trusted the Lord for one more day.

So the cup I have to drink today is the cup of the Lord’s faithfulness. It is to choose trust and faith over fear and control. It is to recite to myself the promise Moses made to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:8:

“The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

The Lord goes before me. He knows and numbers my days. And I have confidence through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that God always keeps His promises. I may not face Philistines in battle, but I will face temptation, fear, and death as surely as Saul did. And so I pray that an unshakable confidence in Christ will be my only and blessed assurance each day.

SRT-SAMUELS-instagram18

Melanie Rainer is the director of content for JellyTelly, where she writes and edits family spiritual formation resources. She is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, a passionate home baker, and makes her always-messy home with her husband, Price, and their delightful daughter, Ellie, near historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee.

Leave a Reply to EarlyBird Cancel reply

/

  • The Lord goes before me. He knows and numbers my days. And I have confidence through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that God always keeps His promises. I may not face Philistines in battle, but I will face temptation, fear, and death as surely as Saul did. And so I pray that an unshakable confidence in Christ will be my only and blessed assurance each day.

  • Heather Kulaga

    Thank you for this!

  • Yesterday I had a long drive back home from visiting family…..on highways and through two major cities. I have a fear of driving in these conditions. I stress and avoid it any way I can. And if I can fly I choose that over driving. When facing this trip along with the fear facing the drive I was feeling such guilt that at the difficulty of giving this fear up to God. I prayed so much about the trip, prior to it and during. I listened to praise music all along the drive. Honestly I do not even remember the traffic going through the city and even though it was tiring I felt a peace and was not nervous as I anticipated. The verses today and the devotion really hit me with letting God go before me and trusting Him. “So the cup I have to drink today is the cup of the Lord’s faithfulness. It is to choose trust and faith over fear and control” I could do nothing but praise God and I am still just so amazed at how he calmed me and brought me home without the fear I was anticipating. God please help me to give up my fears that hold me back from fulfilling your will.

  • not my will but YOURS be done Lord! praying for help to give up my control over “my kingdom” to the One who Rules it All!!

  • jessiechatchat

    “So the cup I have to drink today is the cup of the Lord’s faithfulness. It is to choose trust and faith over fear and control.” Thank you! Been looking for a verbal way to start my day, casting off my self-made righteousness and plans, taking in the presence of our Father. This is it.

  • Melanie Bisson

    God’s timing is just so, so amazing. I had a wonderful experience this morning while showering. Long story short, I’ve been wrestling to rid some nerves and fears surrounding an upcoming pregnancy. I’ve been scared about the timing of getting pregnant because I have some significant Latin America travel coming up. I know I need to trust Him but I’m terrified of all the morning sickness while traveling (all professional). I drank too much last night with coworkers and felt horrible this morning. I had this thought enter my mind that said “don’t take your nausea medicine. Trust me” and I prayed quickly to understand if that was really Him or not (I pray about that daily because I struggle to know what fleeting thoughts are my own or His. I ask for a sign. The water pressure cuts in half immediately then returns after a couple of seconds. I stare in silence and awe. I got my confirmation on Him speaking to me, the trust in Him on the future pregnancy AND all because of that – I now know I can truly trust Him to lead me through the difficulties of stopping drinking. It’s never been out of hand – social situations, normal dinner drinks, but my husband is a minister and overcame alcoholism and has wanted me to stop for a while. Everything came full circle today as I sat down to read this tonight. Amazing. Truly He is SO GOOD.

    • Susie

      Melanie,
      Thanks you for sharing! My husband and I just decided we’re going to try and start a family and it has been a daily challenge to hand it over to God. I want to plan it and control it but when it comes down to it, im pretty helpless. I struggle with the fear of not being able to get pregnant but this study has truly been instrumental in reminding me that worry and fear are pointless when we serve a God that is so powerful and faithful. Praying for you this morning for courage and perseverance.

  • Continuing to declare the battle is already won, the outcome has already been determined, my God will not forsake me …my fear, despair, loneliness are all from the enemy trying to keep me from feeling safe and secure in my heavenly father’s embrace.

  • Karen From Virginia

    I pray when I feel that desperation as Saul, I will run to the promises of God and lean into Jesus instead desperately try to find answers, direction and approval from others.
    It’s been a rough day. I’ve been in pain, tired and a bit of a daze. When I saw my supervisor, I wasn’t my best or close. Thankfully, he understood my grieving mind but I felt so disoriented. I need Jesus. I feel scared. Like I’m going to keep failing. My anchor feels uncertain though I know the Lord is not going anywhere.

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Karen, we are continuing to pray for you and keep you in our thoughts. Will also be praying that you are able to find support and community with a spiritual leader or church in your community during this time. – Abby, SRT Team

  • While thinking about taking matters into our own hands, these verses from Isaiah came to mind:
    “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.” (Isaiah 50:10-11)
    God is the light in our darkness. When I first read this verse about a year ago, I felt so convicted. How often do I light my own torch when I’m in the dark rather than letting God be the light? ALL THE TIME. And He makes it very clear: relying on myself rather than Him doesn’t end well! May we trust God to be our light when we walk in darkness.

  • I needed to hear this today. God’s timing is perfect! Thank you for bringing us His word, His truth, and your thoughts and experiences on them. So grateful for this community and its leaders.

  • Cindy Diehl

    God’s word and the timing of this particular devotional are so perfect for circumstances our family is facing. Thank you <3

  • Sauls story just breaks my heart. He choose pride , jealously and selfishness and lost his relationship with God. I could not imagine the pain he felt in the end, to lose God, to know God had rejected him. So sad.
    When I start to trust in my self, take matters in my own hands, I do the same. I push God away and leave myself to deal with things on my own. May I be reminded of this story when I try to do things on my own, instead of leaning on the Lord for guidance.

  • “So the cup I have to drink today is the cup of the Lord’s faithfulness. It is to choose trust and faith over fear and control. ” These words are what I really needed this morning. I found out last week that I was pregnant. My husband and I are over the moon however I find myself living in fear of something going bad or me suffering a miscarriage. I don’t want to live in this fear. Please pray I keep me hope and trust in the LORD and that he would protect this baby in my stomach that we would make it to full term. Thank you ladies, so blessed by our community.

    • Emily B.

      That’s so exciting! I’m 20 weeks pregnant and felt the exact same way as you during my first trimester (and sometimes still struggle with those fears). Hold on to the truth that God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear and that He is knitting your child together and loves him or her even more than you do. I pray blessings on your pregnancy! :)

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Courtney, congratulations! This is such a special time. Just want you to know we will be praying for you and your husband, and thank you so much for being willing to share your story and be a part of this community. – Abby, The SRT Team

    • Becky

      Congratulations Courtney! Blessings to you and your husband and your baby. I’m adding you to my daily prayer list….I know this fear, and it is hard. Be well, and keep us posted!

  • If you all could please pray for me today, I will be taking my driving road skills test at 3:30pm. Due to having dizziness from a concussion(which is basically gone now!), my driving practice was pushed back…but now (after catching up on driving practice) before I’m heading off to college, I am finally going to try and get my license! Praying that my confidence will be in Christ and to remember that He protects me and goes before me. Thank you all!

  • I am reminded of an old hymn written by Ira Stanphill.

    I KNOW WHO HOLDS TOMORROW

    I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day, 
I don’t borrow from its sunshine, For its skies may turn to gray.
 I don’t worry o’er the future, For I know what Jesus said, 
And today I’ll walk beside Him, for He knows what is ahead.

    Every step is getting brighter, As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden’s getting lighter; Every cloud is silver lined.
 There the sun is always shining, There no tear will dim the eye,
 At the ending of the rainbow, Where the mountains touch the sky.

    I don’t know about tomorrow, It may bring me poverty; 
But the one who feeds the sparrow, Is the one who stands by me. 
And the path that be my portion, May be through the flame or flood, 
But His presence goes before me, And I’m covered with His blood.

    (Chorus)
    
Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand;
 But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.


    • Elle

      Beautiful. This was a blessing to me. Thank you for sharing! Blessings to you!

  • Diane Huntsman

    Oh the inescapable reaping of what one sows.. may we sow a life of obedience to reap a life of righteousness … Saul is reaping what he has sewn and it’s really all.on.him.

  • As I read about how alone and desperate Saul is, I think about how much better off he would have been to have David at his side – and how differently things might have turned out if he hadn’t let jealousy and pride rule his life and push David away. David is by far stronger and more faithful in his walk with the Lord. Saul could have leaned on David during hard times like this, and had a companion. But instead he gave into jealousy, and became desperate, with no one left for counsel but a medium. Serving self will only push others away. I pray that I will draw my faith-filled friends in close and live out Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”, seeking their advice after I have sought the Lord’s. I pray that I will never push anyone away out of jealousy or pride and ask God to keep my heart open to everyone who walks into my life.

  • GramsieSue

    Oh how quickly I fall into fear, worry, doubt, anxiety…And just now I glance over to see a card with this verse on it:
    “Above all, fear the Lord and worship Him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things He has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24
    Oh my yes! How many times He has protected and provided in ways I could never dream of. I want to have this verse printed and framed in a prominent place in my home. I want no more doubt and fear creeping in. Only trust and faith. After all, I. Have. Jesus.

  • “When I think about how often I obsess over the future—running worst-case scenarios through my head, working myself into a panic—I realize that I’m tempted in the same ways Saul was.”

    I sit here, another morning without the blessed confirmation of my husband’s gainful employment, in month six now. And while I have peace, he does not. Last week, it was waining but this week he hurts. And so I pray that God will step in quickly, that He will provide as we’ve been asking, sooner rather than later, that He will lift up my husband and deliver him from this trouble but in this I remember that His time isn’t our own and that whatever He is working out, waiting on or willing is FOR us. Like Saul, I’m tempted to seek an understanding of what next week will look like, of when we will know something new. I’m tempted to seek input from others because, for my husband, God’s gone quiet, but as sure as I know the sun rises in the morning, I know that there is a future and I just need to live in the knowledge of that reality and not worry so much about the finer details. It’s easy to see someone you love hurting and want to fall into the roll of the “fixer” but there isn’t one thing I can do here, outside of pray. It’s so easy to become frustrated with folks in your life that fall short of remembering who they are, who God is in the midst of troubled seasons, but it’s important to remember that our paths with Christ might be parallel they’d don’t necessarily look the same. While I’m enjoying a simple walk with my Savior resting in the knowledge of His love over me, a loved one may be struggling treacherous territory, uphill in the heat of southern day. And so I must look back and remember my hills and sit sidelined to their struggles and say nothing short of “you are loved … you got this”…….because in truth it’s not our ability but God’s, it’s not our glory, but God’s, it’s not our life, but God’s … sitting, encouraging, loving, that’s our job … that’s easy, the rest is all God’s.

    • GramsieSue

      Amen! Praying for you and your husband as you walk in this valley. Have been in a similar situation and I KNOW God provides! Just keep trusting. ❤️

    • Ashley

      Amen, thank you for sharing this. My husband and I are in a season of financial uncertainty as well and we have both been riding the roller coaster of peace. Thankfully when one of us is down, the other seems to be up and we keep each other going, reminding ourselves of God’s love and faithfulness.

      • ~ B ~

        Ashley, I will be including you in prayers. It is such a rollercoaster of peace … great way to put this portion. Hoping that you continue to see God’s faithfulness in the midst!

    • Christina

      Dear B, I feel you oh so very much. There have been so many instances in my life when I felt the same, waiting and waiting and waiting for God to show up. I’m praying that God will show himself to have been constantly with you both this entire time and that he will provide your husband with a new job. I have been blessed to see the Lord answer employment-related prayers time and time again and I am confident that he will do the same for you.

      • ~ B ~

        Thank you for your encouragement and confidence, Christina! It is so wonderful to hear stories of God’s faithfulness for those who have also walked this out. I truly appreciate your words and prayers. Thank you!

    • JamiB

      Oh, I’ve been wondering, Betsy- so sorry your husband hasn’t gotten work yet. Praying for you and your family. God will provide!

      • ~ B ~

        Thank you so much for keeping us in prayers and thinking of us! It means more than you know, though, I’m certain you fully understand as well.

    • Lynne

      Good morning, B! I’m praying this morning that God will give His peace to both you and your husband! He has a plan in the works!

      • ~ B ~

        Thank you, Lynne for the prayers of peace. I know that prayers make a difference and even if a job doesn’t come knocking today, the peace in the process is crucial. Thank you for lifting us up!

    • Alexis

      Praying peace for your husband while he is in the waiting season and strength for you as you support him. God will provide all your needs.

      • ~ B ~

        Coveting prayers of strength right now, Alexis. Thank you. Sometimes my emotions in this want to get the best of me, so strength to walk this out with grace would be wonderful.

    • Emmy

      Praying for you and your husband! Your steadfast faith and trust in God is a wonderful example

      • ~ B ~

        Emmy, Thank you for your prayers and your incredibly kind words over me, incredibly kind.

    • Kelly R Smith

      Praying with you, B!

  • This verse comes to mind as I read the passage and Devo:
    “Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil. It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles–all your inner parts] And refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones.”
    ‭‭PROVERBS‬ ‭3:5-8‬ ‭AMP‬‬
    This is the cross roads of where we get off track. We start leaning to our own ways and understanding and seeking tangible help and advice instead of waiting on the Lord.

  • Oh how I needed this today and the Lord knew it. I move my first born off to college on Saturday!! “So the cup I have to drink today is the cup of the Lord’s faithfulness” Thank you SRT!!!

  • Kelly R Smith

    I’ve never equated my drive to control current and future situations with Saul’s consultation with a medium. The same spirit of independence, defiance, the “I have to know!” attitude motivates it. This isn’t “just the way I’m wired,” as we like to say. It is evidence of a heart of doubt and fear. Today, I choose “trust and faith over doubt and fear.”

    • Emily B.

      I like what you said about the driving attitude behind both Saul talking to the medium and our desire to control things. That “I have to know” mentality can be very debilitating.

    • Eriana

      I am obsessed with knowing things. I have spent more time in my life obsessing over the future and unknowns more than anything else, I hate to admit. You’re totally right—it’s not just about our personalities or temperaments and that “have to know” mentality. It’s a deeper issue of fear that must be met with trusting God to be with us and fulfill His promises. I want to do a better job of that.

  • churchmouse

    Why would I take matters into my own hands rather than leaving them in the hands of the One Who powerfully created the universe and Who knows the future because He controls it… And I’m His child and He loves me? Rightfully feeling foolish for how often I succumb to fear and control instead of faith and trust. “Unshakable confidence in Christ.” Yes please. More of that.

  • As I was reading today, I found it interesting that David, who had defeated Goliath (a Philistine) was now among the Philistines. How swiftly the concept of enemies can shift!

  • Praying for you and your family Kathy. I’m sorry for your loss but glad you can celebrate the 93 years she had. Pray for comfort to y’all.

  • I can’t imagine being Saul. This is the saddest thing to read. There are times when I have cried out to God and have felt like my cries are hitting the ceiling and bouncing back. But, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He hears me and He will answer me. If I need Him and call to Him, He is there. And it’s all because of Jesus!
    This devotion is such a wonderful reminder that I do need to make a conscious decision, in those times when God seems silent, to choose trust and faith over fear and control. Deut. 31:8 is going on a post-it note at school!
    Also, please be in prayer for my family. My mother-in-law passed away yesterday. She was 93 and was so ready to go home and be with Jesus. We are very sad, but we’re rejoicing because her faith has become sight.
    Be blessed today, sweet sisters.

    • EarlyBird

      May you feel God’s comfort and peace on the loss of your dear mom-in-law. May you rest well, knowing that she was joyfully welcomed Home.

    • Mari

      Praying for your family.

  • Thank you so much for this clearly written devotional Melanie! What a true blessing! You’ve brought new life to the readings for today. We are daily tempted like Saul was. All we can do is trust in God. Deuteronomy was the perfect cross verse for this.

Further Reading...