Was It Samuel?

By Dr. Ken Matto

(1 Sam 28:11 KJV) Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.

One of the most debated portions of Scripture in the Old Testament is 1 Samuel 28:3-19. It is the section where Saul goes to the witch of Endor and asks her to conjure up Samuel. Saul had stated that the Lord had departed from him and since there was a great army of Philistines facing him, he wanted to know what the outcome of the battle would be. The question which must be broached is a very serious one and that is, “does a person who dabbles in the occult like a medium or witch have the power to reach into Heaven and bring back a believer?”

There is no doubt that Samuel was a believer and when we look at the Lord Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, we see Him speaking with Moses and Elijah, two of the most notable figures in the Old Testament. Samuel would definitely be a notable character in the Old Testament being the last judge of Israel.

I have heard famous preachers on both sides of the debate. Some believe that it was actually Samuel and some believe that it was a satanic deception. The problem is there cannot be two truths but only one. So to come to a proper conclusion we must extract the truth from these verses while laying aside all pre-conceived notions. We will come to the truth by means of what the Scriptures teach and not what pastors or theologians believe, even though we will be in agreement with many of them on this issue.

Probably the overriding question for this portion of Scripture is, “does a witch or someone who engages in the occult have the spiritual authority to actually go into Heaven and bring a true believer back to earth?” When a believer is on earth, the only contact with hell they will have is on this earth. Once they physically die, then they go to be with the Lord in Heaven. (2 Cor 5:8 KJV) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. So for one to believe that the witch at Endor had the authority to bring Samuel back from Heaven is to claim that the kingdom of Satan has authority over the Kingdom of God. Of course, we know that is a foolish and unbiblical conclusion but that is basically what is being said. Let us now attend to the Scriptures which deal with this scenario and let them speak to us.

1 Samuel 28:3 (KJV) Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.

This situation probably had Saul living in total fear. Samuel had died and Saul also did the right thing by putting out all those who had familiar spirits, that is, those who engaged in the occult and they were sent out of the land of Israel.

1 Samuel 28:4 (KJV) And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.

With Samuel dead and the huge Philistine set in array only about 10 miles from them, Saul was about to face a test which he would fail. At this point in the battle with the Philistines, they had lengthened their hold on Israel to about 20 miles north of Aphek into the valley of Jezreel. Aphek was their northern most city. They had set up their camp at Shunem which was 9 miles east of Megiddo and no doubt had their sights set on Saul and the Israeli army who were camped at Mount Gilboa which was about 10 miles southeast of there.

1 Samuel 28:5 (KJV) And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.

Saul was so filled with fear that his heart greatly trembled. The word “trembled” in the “Hebrew” carries with it the meaning of “quaking.” Saul was so frightened that his body was literally trembling as if someone was cold and they were shivering. The word “afraid” carries with it the meaning of “terrified.” Saul knew that he was facing probably the biggest battle of his life or the last battle of his life.

1 Samuel 28:6 (KJV) And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

Saul then in his fear had made inquiry of the Lord concerning the battle. However, at this point the Lord did not answer him. The Lord did not even give him any type of answer by a dream. The Lord did not answer by Urim which the Priest Abiathar was with David who had the Urim and Thummim on the Ephod which he possessed. (1 Sam 23:9 KJV) And David knew that Saul secretly practiced mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod. The Lord did not even answer by prophets even though there was a school of the prophets not to far from there at Naioth in Ramah. Saul was on his own because his disobedience caused the Lord to reject his inquiries.

1 Samuel 28:7 (KJV) Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

This is an interesting statement. Saul then becomes desperate and decides to go deeper into sin. Saul had originally removed all those out who dealt in familiar spirits and yet here he inquires of his servants to find him one who has a familiar spirit. Notice without hesitation, the servants tell him that there is a woman who has a familiar spirit at Endor. If I was Saul, immediately I would have asked why was she not removed from the land with the rest of the occultic people and how was it that the servants knew that she was there and did nothing about it? That was not his dilemma right now. Notice how there was one person left who engaged in the occult. It was just one person which was all that Saul needed to fail his test. Endor was about 10 miles north of where Israel was camped out, so Saul had to make a fast dash to get up there and get back before the Philistines began their attack.

1 Samuel 28:8 (KJV) 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.

Saul had dressed down and shed his royal robes for this encounter. He had dressed in regular clothes wanting to look like some passerby who wanted a fortune told. Saul did not take a chance to be noticed so he went to her by night. It was also a fact that those who work the works of darkness do so in the night. (1 Th 5:5 KJV) Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Since she dealt in the occult art of necromancy which is the conjuring up of the spirits of the dead, Saul had made a request to her that she would bring up whomever he asked for. Notice the word “up.” It will play a part in the explanation in a few verses.

1 Samuel 28:9 (KJV) And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

At this point the woman did not know who Saul was and she starts to tell him that Saul had removed all those with familiar spirits from the land. The wizards also who engaged in the satanic arts were removed. She had thought that this man was attempting to lay a snare or a trap for her life by asking her to do what was forbidden by the king. She thought that once she started to conjure up the spirits, that they would turn on her and turn her in for doing what was forbidden.

1 Samuel 28:10 (KJV) And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.

(2 Ki 17:17 KJV) And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. God had given an indictment against the Northern Kingdom of Israel and stated that they had engaged in the occultic arts and had provoked God to anger so that He gave them into the hands of the Assyrians. This episode happened about 300 years after the episode with Saul and the witch at Endor.

In the verse above Saul is actually swearing by the Lord that the woman will not face any consequences for her actions, however, he did not keep her from the ultimate consequence of eternal damnation. Saul was showing how much in the pit of unbelief he was in actually using the name of the Lord to cover an action which is totally satanic. Saul did not realize it but he had crossed the line when he went to the witch at Endor. It seems that from the time of Saul to the time of the split of the Kingdom of Israel, there was much satanic activity.

1 Samuel 28:11 (KJV) Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.

Then the witch had calmed down after she received the assurance that there would be no consequences to her actions. She then asks him who does he want her to bring up? There is that word “up” again, twice. Then Saul tells her that he wants her to bring up Samuel.

1 Samuel 28:12 (KJV) 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.

The witch now realizes that she has been set up because she now knew that it was Saul. The question remains as to how she was told that it was Saul. She may have been told by the counterfeit Samuel which she was now bringing up. Now this woman had never seen Samuel because he would have no dealings with anyone who engaged in the satanic arts. Yet, she claimed that she saw Samuel. It is the power of suggestion because she never saw Samuel yet she believed that she recognized him as Samuel. This is the essence of deception by the kingdom of Satan. They wanted Samuel, so some devil portrays himself to look like Samuel so the witch would tell Saul that it was Samuel. Isn’t it interesting to note that Satan will even deceive his followers.

1 Samuel 28:13 (KJV) 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.

(2 Cor 5:8 KJV) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Saul then tells her not to be afraid but to relay to him everything which she is now seeing. She tells Saul that she saw gods ascending out of the earth. Now 2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us that the believer when absent from the body in death, as Samuel was, meant that he would go into the presence of the Lord in Heaven. Heaven is not in the center of the earth.

(Rev 9:1-5 KJV) And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. {2} And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. {3} And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. {4} And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. {5} And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

In Revelation 9, we read about the fifth angel sounding and then a star falls from Heaven and he was given the key of the bottomless pit. He opens the bottomless pit and up comes a great smoke and out of the smoke came locusts on the earth. These locusts are the demons which Satan, when he was tossed out of Heaven, had dispatched all over the earth. (Luke 10:18 KJV) And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Remember the Lord Jesus saw Satan fall from Heaven as he was cast out for his rebellion and his destination was the earth. (Job 2:2 KJV) And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

So the witch had thought that she was seeing gods ascending out of the earth when in essence they were the devils which rebelled with Satan and were now going all over the earth to deceive the masses.

When we speak of Heaven in the Scriptures and its location, we will read the phrase “came down” and “came down from heaven.”

(Exo 19:20 KJV) And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

(2 Ki 1:12 KJV) And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

(Dan 4:13 KJV) I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;

(John 3:13 KJV) And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

(John 6:38 KJV) For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

So it is very important to understand that when an association is made with Heaven in reference to the earth, it is always “coming down from Heaven to earth.” The witch saw these false gods coming up from out of the earth which means they were definitely not from Heaven and that means that what she saw was definitely from the kingdom of Satan and that included the counterfeit Samuel which she saw.

1 Samuel 28:14 (KJV) 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.

Saul then asks her what form is he of? He wanted to know what he looked like in terms of age or clothing. She then tells him that it is an old man covered with a mantle. Saul had fallen upon Samuel’s mantle and it was then when he declared to him that the kingdom was taken from him. (1 Sam 15:27-28 KJV) And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. {28} And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. The mantle was an outer garment or a cloak.

Notice that Saul never actually saw Samuel but had perceived it was Samuel by the way the witch described the image. Saul not having it confirmed immediately bows down to the image which the witch saw. Here is the ultimate in idolatry as Saul now bows down to a devil. First of all, if it was the actual Samuel he would not have accepted any type of worship like Saul was doing and would have directed any worship to the Lord.

1 Samuel 28:15 (KJV) 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.

Here is another evidence that this was a counterfeit Samuel. First of all, he asks Saul why he disquieted him? The word “disquieted” carries with it the meaning of “tremble, quake, agitated, or disturbed.” If this was the true Samuel, he would have been in Heaven in a peaceful, blissful state and would no more be subject to the human anxieties such as trembling or agitation. Secondly, the counterfeit Samuel tells Saul that he was brought “up” which openly gives information as to which kingdom he belongs to. Thirdly, if this was the true Samuel, he would be beyond the reach of the kingdom of Satan.

Then Saul answers and states that he is distressed or afflicted because the Philistines were ready to pounce on him and Israel. Then Saul states that “God has departed from him.” Saul could have saved himself this sinful situation by realizing that if God departed from him, what would make him think that Samuel could give him any information since it was God who told the prophets what they were to speak and to whom they should speak. If God was silent, then Samuel would have been silent also. Yet, Saul believes that Samuel can help him as he tells him that there is no answer from God whether by dreams or by prophets. Then Saul tells Samuel that he was hoping for an answer from him as to what he should do.

1 Samuel 28:16 (KJV) Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?

The real Samuel would have answered in the same fashion. Keep in mind that deception is the mainstay of the kingdom of Satan. So the counterfeit Samuel makes it sound real by returning the question right back at Saul. If the Lord has departed from you and become thine enemy, then what could I possibly tell you in the way of divine information?

1 Samuel 28:17 (KJV) 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:

Then he reiterates exactly what the real Samuel told him when he initially lost the kingdom by offering a burnt offering. (1 Sam 15:28 KJV) And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. Here the neighbour which is going to receive the kingdom is named and that is David.

1 Samuel 28:18 (KJV) Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.

Saul was now being told that he was going to lose the kingdom today because of his disobedience in not smiting Agag, king of the Amalekites and for his disobedience to the Lord. As Agag was to be slain, Saul can now expect the same sentence pronounced on him.

1 Samuel 28:19 (KJV) 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.

Here is another evidence that this was a counterfeit Samuel. The real Samuel was in Heaven but here the pronouncement was that the Philistines will be victorious over Israel and Saul and his sons will be with Samuel. Saul was a disobedient unbeliever and would not have gone to heaven as the real Samuel did. So this devil was basically telling Saul that tomorrow he will be under eternal damnation just as this deceiving devil was. Saul and his sons would be with him. This devil could not give any information to Saul concerning the battle but he sure could tell him that he was under eternal damnation.

Some of the teachings we encountered has given evidence that this was not the real Samuel. Probably the most convincing piece of evidence was the fact that the true Samuel would have “come down from Heaven” instead, he came up from the earth where all the devils were congregated. Another evidence was the fact that those who engage in the satanic arts do not have the authority or ability to reach into Heaven and order a believer out. A third evidence was that the believer will never again be subject to human anxieties. Especially since the body of our old man will be lying in the grave. The soul cannot be touched by Satan or any of his followers. (Mat 10:28 KJV) And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Satan’s people can kill the body but have no access to our souls since they are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. This Samuel was a false Samuel. We must keep in mind that deception will increase as we come closer to the end of time. It is mandatory that we maintain our discernment abilities at the highest level and not accept things without doing any investigation.