Bringing Back the Dead

Question from a Site Viewer
I’ve got locked at 1 Samuel 28:11. Is it possible to bring anyone or anyone’s sprite back from the grave? I would like to know more about this.

Tim’s Answer
You ask about 1 Samuel 28:11 and whether it is possible for a person to bring someone up from the dead in a seance. In 1 Samuel 28:11-25, we have the account of the woman at En Dor who was a medium who conducted seances and who King Saul consulted and in her presence spoke with Samuel who had died previously.

This is an interesting account. It is the only account in Scripture of someone actually meeting a real person in a seance. But the text gives us clues that what happened was highly unusual even for the woman. Scripture tells us in 1 Samuel 28:12 that when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice and she knew instantly that the person inquiring of her was Saul. Why did she know that the inquirer was Saul? It was not because of the identity of the person, since Saul had already told her that he wanted her to bring up Samuel (1 Samuel 28:11). Rather, it was when she saw a spirit ascending out of the earth, an old man with a mantle (1 Samuel 28:13-14) that she realized that the inquirer was Saul.

I think the text suggests that she was not used to actually having anyone appear in her seances. When Samuel did appear, she knew that this was a supernatural occurrence and she immediately knew that there was only one person to whom Samuel would be appearing, and that would be king Saul.

The event is noteworthy not only because it is one of a kind, but also for what Samuel says to Saul. Samuel chides Saul for disturbing Samuel (1 Samuel 28:15). The form of the question suggests that this was not a proper thing to do. Also, Samuel had a message from God to Saul that was not positive for Saul. Saul and his sons would be dead the very next day (1 Samuel 28:19).

What are we to take from this account? First, we should not be consulting mediums, lest we come under God’s disfavor (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24-25; 2 Chronicles 33:6). Scripture is clear that we should not seek the dead on behalf of the living (Isaiah 8:19). And, as the Deuteronomy 18 passage points out, this was not simply a prescription for Israel. God states that even for those who were not under the law to consult with mediums was an abomination.

Second, as Isaiah 8:19 states, we should be consulting God for our guidance. We should be seeking Him always. We can ask Him for whatever is in our heart and if we seek Him He will hear and respond (Deuteronomy 4:7; Matthew 7:7-11; 1 John 5:14-15). James 1:5 says that if we lack wisdom, we should ask of Him.

Third, seances and witchcraft specialize in the underworld. They are not of God. Jesus taught us how to live and He always consulted His Father. We should not be seeking thrills or guidance from the underworld. Demons are real, and sometimes they may appear as good spirits (see 2 Corinthians 11:14). As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 10:20 in a passage dealing with idols, he does not want us to have fellowship with demons.

Fourth, I believe that most, if not all mediums, are either deceived or fraudulent. Many of them have been exposed as frauds. They often have methods of finding out something about the person and then purport to conjure up someone who they cleverly convince you is the person you may be seeking. And of course, they generally do it to gain your trust and your money.

But whether fraudulent or real, this is an area that we are warned to avoid. If we follow Jesus, we will not be seeking after the occult.

I trust this is helpful.

a servant,


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