It’s always hard to move on after the death of someone close. No biblical character struggled with this more than Saul, the first king of Israel.
When the prophet Samuel died, Saul was devastated. Throughout Saul’s reign, he’d depended on Samuel for advice and guidance. Shortly after Samuel’s death, the Philistine army threatened Israel, and Saul felt lost and desperate.
But instead of internalizing Samuel’s legacy, and drawing on that for support, Saul became obsessed with actually speaking with Samuel. So he hired a witch to conjure up Samuel’s ghost. Sure enough, Samuel appeared. But he was not pleased with Saul: “Why have you disturbed me and brought me up from the grave?”
Samuel’s ghost then predicts that Saul will be defeated by the Philistines. The prophecy comes true just a few chapters later.
If you never knew that the Bible describes encounters with witches and ghosts, this story might make you gasp. And even if the supernatural elements of the story leave you unfazed, it’s a good reminder that the value of our friends and mentors isn’t in their physical presence, but in what they’ve taught us, and how they’ve changed us.
January 4, 2011