What a story this is today. Saul has chosen his own way and ignored God’s path — David is his replacement. He had been warned. The story of Darth Vader in Star Wars has a similar ring to it. Vader a true talent with great power is tempted to go the way of the dark side and not remain loyal to the Force and hence ‘good’. Just as we can see something in ourselves in Obi Wan Kenobi the good Jedi Knight, so too can we see parts of ourselves like Vader tempted to a darker way if reality is ignored.
You may remember the adverts for cigarettes if you are old enough — Marlboro is the one I seem to recall — involving a cowboy looking cool and manly. It worked for me and my mates for a while in that we used to smoke them thinking it made us cool and manly. In actual fact it made us smell terrible and made us ill. Winner… not. Thankfully none of us now smoke.
Abba Father, help us through the strength and presence of your Spirit to give up the things which harm us and trap us in dark ways and lead us into Your light, making us new and yet truly ourselves as you have made us to be. We ask this prayer in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.
4 The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He enquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. 7 Saul then said to his attendants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, so that I may go and enquire of her.’
‘There is one in Endor,’ they said.
8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. ‘Consult a spirit for me,’ he said, ‘and bring up for me the one I name.’
9 But the woman said to him, ‘Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?’
10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.’
11 Then the woman asked, ‘Whom shall I bring up for you?’
‘Bring up Samuel,’ he said.
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, ‘Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!’
13 The king said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. What do you see?’
The woman said, ‘I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.’
14 ‘What does he look like?’ he asked.
‘An old man wearing a robe is coming up,’ she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
15 Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’
‘I am in great distress,’ Saul said. ‘The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.’
16 Samuel said, ‘Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbours – to David. 18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.’