1 Samuel 28: Biblical Ghost Story

My first class at seminary was on how to study the Bible. Principles of Hermeneutics (or some such). Our very first assignment was to make 25 observations from a single verse (Acts 1:8). Let me tell you, that was difficult. But it wasn’t as hard as our second assignment: to make another 25 observations from the same verse!

The point was that careful observation is the first, and possibly most important step, in Bible study.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a writer. I’ve entered a national short story competition and made it to the second round. In the next two days, I have to write a ghost story. (Genre, topic, and character are assigned. My first story was a thriller).

I generally try not to dabble in horror, because of my profound belief that the supernatural exists and that the occult is dangerous. So for me, my ghost story will be a precautionary tale. 😉 For inspiration, I thought I’d go back to 1 Samuel where God has stopped speaking to Saul so he decides to go and find a medium to bring the prophet Samuel back from the dead. (And he wondered why God was silent?)

So, for fun, here are 25+ observations from the text. Feel free to comment below with your own observations. Our prof told us that there were over 600 observations that could be made from Acts 1:8! O.o

  1. Saul had banned all mediums and those who consulted with spirits of the dead from Israel. – suggests Saul knew God prohibition.
  2. People besides mediums consult spirits of the dead.
  3. Saul was afraid of the Philistine army.
  4. Sacred lots, dreams, and the prophets were ways that God chose to answer people in the past.
  5. Saul asked God what he should do, but God refused to answer.
  6. Saul requested to speak with a woman who was a medium. (Were all mediums female? Were there male mediums?)
  7. Saul’s advisers knew where a medium was located.
  8. Saul disguised himself and went at night to see the medium.
  9. Saul told the medium he wanted to consult with the spirit of someone who had died.
  10. The woman was suspicious of him.
  11. The woman knew that consulting spirits was against the law.
  12. The woman accused Saul of setting a trap.
  13. Saul took an oath in God’s name, “As surely as the LORD lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.” (Huge irony here. Witches, mediums, consulting with spirits was all prohibited by God.)
  14. Saul wanted to talk to Samuel.
  15. The woman was able to summon Samuel even though she did not know who he was or what he looked like.
  16. Samuel’s appearance made the medium afraid.
  17. When the woman called up Samuel, she realized her customer was Saul.
  18. When he arrived, she did not know who Saul was.
  19. Saul could not see Samuel.
  20. The woman described Samuel as “a god coming up out of the earth.”
  21. Samuel appeared as an old man wearing a robe.
  22. The medium’s description of Samuel’s clothing somehow convinced Saul it was Samuel.
  23. Saul knelt before Samuel.
  24. Saul asked Samuel what to do.
  25. Samuel did not tell Saul what to do.
  26. Samuel explained what Saul did wrong.
  27. Samuel predicted Saul’s death – told Saul he and his sons would “join him” the next day.
  28. Samuel predicted the entire army of Israel would be defeated.
  29. It is possible to contact dead spirits.
  30. Samuel knew what was going to happen in the future. Suggests that Samuel was still in communication with God.
  31. God had become Saul’s enemy.
  32. Saul was being punished for disobedience.
  33. The medium was compassionate to Saul.

I like these points from my study Bible:

Samuel’s appearance revealed to the medium that she was dealing with a power far greater than any she had seen in the past.

She did not call Samuel up using her normal means. Instead, God allowed Samuel to return to give Saul a message.

“…do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD.” – Deuteronomy 18:10-12

Here’s what I’m hoping to convey in my short story: that the occult is real, and that it is dangerous. Once it’s finished, I’ll be posting it at my main blog. 🙂



2 thoughts on “1 Samuel 28: Biblical Ghost Story

  1. Congrats on making it to the second round!! Wow – I don’t recall doing something like that when I took Hermeneutics but I do remember it being one of the toughest classes (with one of the infamously toughest professors) I ever took.

    I’ve always kind of wondered if maybe she was surprised by Samuel’s appearance because perhaps she normally faked it and when it happened for real, it freaked her out. Tying in with #5, I’d say Saul was trying to circumvent God since he wasn’t getting an answer.

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