The prophet Samuel was dead, and Israel was once again at the brink of war with the Philistines. King Saul, the man the armies looked to for leadership, stood facing his enemies, utterly terrified.
The Bible tells us that Saul prayed to God, but God did not answer — not in any of the ways Saul was expecting: dreams, or signs, or words from another prophet. At this hour of Saul’s need, Heaven was silent.
Saul’s response was a particularly telling one. Instead of seeking further for God’s direction, offering sacrifices, searching out prophets, or anything of the sort, Saul took the path of hypocrisy.
The practice of divination, speaking with the spirits of the dead, had been outlawed in Israel, and Saul himself had long since cleaned out those who practiced such things in the land. But when he himself desperately needed answers, Saul’s response was to ask about for the services of a medium.
Saul wanted easy answers more than he wanted the truth of God. In order to obtain his answers, he disguised his identity and went in secret to visit the one remaining medium his men were able to locate: the witch of Endor.
Saul had to conceal who he truly was to get his answers, and even then he had to argue with the medium to get her to agree to call up a spirit for him. Then Saul chose Samuel as the spirit who could give him the advice he needed.
It appears that Saul’s attempt worked, and Samuel’s ghost appeared to him, rather unhappy about being summoned in this manner to have a troubled king demand his counsel. And instead of the easy answers Saul wanted, Samuel gave him the truth.
God has turned away from you and is now on the side of your neighbor. God has done exactly what he told you through me—ripped the kingdom right out of your hands and given it to your neighbor. It’s because you did not obey God, refused to carry out his seething judgment on Amalek, that God does to you what he is doing today. Worse yet, God is turning Israel, along with you, over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. And, yes, indeed, God is giving Israel’s army up to the Philistines.
Saul’s quest for answers outside of seeking God brought him nothing but despair.
We’ve all had times in our lives when we have prayed, searching for guidance, but Heaven has been silent. How many times have we taken the easy way out and given up on seeking God?
When it appears that God is not responding, perhaps it is just that we are not listening.