In 1 Samuel 28 Saul consulted a medium which he himself banished before as Samuel instructed him.  Why did God allow Samuel’s spirit to talk through the medium? Does it mean such psychics and mediums have access into even the soul of a holy prophet like Samuel?


The events in 1 Samuel 28 do not support the belief that consulting a medium can actually work. Look at the context. What happened is that the witch went through her usual mumbo jumbo she used to fake out her customers, but, lo and behold, almost certainly for the first time in her life, it actually “worked.” Notice that whe was shocked that her fraudulent money-making scheme actually brought forth a spirit. We who read the Bible know that it was God who worked here, not the medium. Far from proving that “psychics” can actually contact the spirits of dead persons, instead this passage supports the conclusion that all such so-called mediums are a fake. If we are to be extra cautious, probably we should admit that it does not prove that this has never and will never happen, but it certaily does NOT support the belief that mediums can indeed consult the spirits of the dead. Such people are frauds.

The fact is that the Bible supports the idea that the dead go to a kind of waiting place, at times called Sheol or paradise or Hades. The Bible does not give much information about where we go when we die, but we can get some good clues. My good friend Doug Jacoby has published an excellent short book titled “What Happens When We Die?”. It is available at I suggest you consider getting a copy of this book as it goes into great detail about the Jewish beliefs on the afterlife, as well as all relevant biblical passages on what happens when we die. The indication is that we go to a place from which we cannot communicate in any way whatsoever with those left behind in the physical realm where we live. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus points this conclusion. When the man who went to Hades and was suffering greatly wanted to come back to warn his brothers, he was told that there was no way to do this. I suppose this does not absolutely prove, biblically, that mediums are all complete frauds, but it goes a long way in that direction.

Why did God allow this very unusual exception to the general rule that those in Hades are not available to the living?  I really cannot say.  I speculate that the sin of Saul was so great that, in order to get his attention, God made this exception.  God was trying to shock Samuel into humbling himself.  This would be an act of grace as Saul deserved death for breaking the strict command in the Mosaic covenant against consulting mediums.  Does the fact that God is so strong against consulting the dead prove that they can, indeed be consulted?  I cannot prove that this cannot be done, but I can say for sure that to consult a medium is not only sinful per se, but it is sinful because it means that we are no longer relying on God which is, in itself, a sin.  Personally, I doubt that any medium can in fact actually contact people in Hades and 1 Sam 18 does nothing to prove otherwise.

John Oakes

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