Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: 1 Samuel
Book: 1 Samuel
Chapter: 28

Achish puts confidence in David, Saul's fear. (1-6) Saul
consults a Witch at Endor. (7-19) Saul's terror. (20-25)

1-6 David could not refuse Achish without danger. If he
promised assistance, and then stood neuter, or went over to the
Israelites, he would behave with ingratitude and treachery. If
he fought against Israel, he would Sin greatly. It seemed
impossible that he should get out of this difficulty with a
clear Conscience; but his evasive answer, intended to gain time,
was not consistent with the character of an Israelite indeed.
Troubles are terrors to the children of disobedience. In his
distress, Saul inquired of the Lord. He did not seek in Faith,
but with a double, unstable mind. Saul had Put the Law in force
against those that had familiar spirits, Ex 22:18. Many seem
zealous against Sin, when they are any way hurt By it, who have
No concern for the Glory of God, nor any dislike of Sin as Sin.
Many seem enemies to Sin in others, while they indulge it in
themselves. Saul will drive the Devil out of his kingdom, yet
harbours him in his Heart By envy and malice. How foolish to
consult those whom, according to God's Law, he had endeavoured
to root out!

7-19 When we go from the Plain path of duty, every thing draws
us further aside, and increases our perplexity and Temptation.
Saul desires the Woman to bring one from the dead, with whom he
wished to speak; this was expressly forbidden, De 18:11. All
real or pretended Witchcraft or conjuration, is a malicious or
an ignorant attempt to gain knowledge or help from some
Creature, when it cannot be had from the Lord in the path of
duty. While Samuel was living, we never read of Saul's going to
advise with him in any difficulties; it had been Well for him if
he had. But now he is dead, "Bring me up Samuel." Many who
despise and persecute God's saints and ministers when living,
would be glad to have them again, when they are gone. The whole
shows that it was No human fraud or trick. Though the Woman
could not cause Samuel's being sent, yet Saul's inquiry might be
the occasion of it. The Woman's surprise and terror proved that
it was an unusual and unexpected appearance. Saul had despised
Samuel's solemn warnings in his lifetime, yet now that he hoped,
as in defiance of God, to obtain some counsel and encouragement
from him, might not God permit the soul of his departed Prophet
to appear to Saul, to confirm his former sentence, and denounce
his doom? The expression, "Thou and thy sons shall be with me,"
means No more than that they shall be in the eternal world.
There appears much solemnity in God's permitting the soul of a
departed Prophet to come as a Witness from Heaven, to confirm
the Word he had spoken On Earth.

20-25 Those that expect any good counsel or comfort, otherwise
than from God, and in the way of his institutions, will be as
wretchedly disappointed as Saul. Though terrified even to
despair, he was not humbled. He confessed not his sins, offered
No sacrifices, and presented No supplications. He does not seem
to have cared about his sons or his people, or to have attempted
any escape; but in sullen despair he rushed upon his doom. God
sets up a few such beacons, to warn men not to stifle
convictions, or despise his Word. But while one repenting
thought remains, let No sinner suppose himself in this case. Let
him humble himself before God, determined to live and die
beseeching his favour, and he will succeed.