Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 28

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of 1 Samuel 28)

Verse 2

[2] And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.

Can do — He speaks ambiguously, as he did before.

Verse 5

[5] And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.

He trembled — Had he kept close to God, he needed not fear all the armies of the Philistines.

Verse 7

[7] Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

That hath, … — One that converseth with the devil, or dead men's ghosts, and by them can discover future things. See Isaiah 8:19.

Verse 8

[8] And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

Disguised — Both because he was ashamed to be known, or thought guilty of this practice; and because he suspected, the woman, had she known him, would not practice her art before him.

Verse 11

[11] Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.

Samuel — Whose kindness and compassion as he had formerly experienced, so now he expected it in his deep distress. This practice of divination by the dead, or the souls of dead persons, was very usual among all nations.

Verse 12

[12] And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.

Saw Samuel — The words are express, the woman saw Samuel, instead of the spirit whom she expected to see, God ordering it so for his own glory.

She cried with a loud voice — Terrified and astonished, and thence easily conjectured, whom she had been talking with.

Verse 13

[13] And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

Gods — That is, a god, and divine person, glorious, and full of majesty and splendor, exceeding not only mortal men, but common ghosts. She used the plural number, gods, either after the manner of the Hebrew language, which commonly uses that word of one person: or, after the language and custom of the heathens.

Verse 14

[14] And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

A mantle — The usual habit of prophets, and particularly of Samuel, chap. 15:27. If it was not Samuel, but an other spirit in his shape, it is not true, that Saul perceived it was Samuel. It seems Saul did not see him, so soon as the woman, which occasioned his asking those questions.

Verse 15

[15] And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

Called Samuel — Happy had it been, if he had called Samuel sooner, or rather the God of Samuel! It was now too late: destruction was at hand and God had determined, it should not be stayed.

Verse 17

[17] And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:

To him — To David.

Verse 19

[19] Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.

Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: "What do these solemn words portend? A gleam of hope when life shall end. Thou and thy sons, tho' slain shall be To-morrow in repose with me. Not in a state of health or pain If Saul with Samuel doth remain; Not in a state of damn'd despair, If loving Jonathan is there." Tho' these words may only mean, ye shall surely die, without any reference to the state of their souls after death.

Verse 20

[20] Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.

Fell — As if the Archers of the Philistines had already hit him, and there was no strength in him, to bear up against these heavy tidings: especially, as we cannot doubt, but all his past sins were now brought to his remembrance and what authority has any man to affirm, that he felt no contrition all this time? Altho' it did not seem good to the holy ghost, to leave it upon record?

Verse 21

[21] And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me.

Came to Saul — From whom she departed, when she had brought him and Samuel together, that they might more freely converse together.

Verse 24

[24] And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof:

Unleavened — Not having time to leaven it.

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