Read I Samuel 28 -- 31
The Philistines had conquered the Israelites during the days when Eli was judge. But, after Samuel became judge, the Philistines were so badly defeated because of his prayer meeting at Mizpeh that they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel (I Samuel 7:13).
Early in Saul's reign, the Lord saved Israel by a great victory over the Philistines from Michmash to Aijalon (14:5-31); but Saul was not faithful to the Lord. Consequently, there was fierce war against the Philistines all the days of Saul (14:52).
In the 40th and final year of Saul's reign, the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites encamped by a fountain which is in Jezreel (29:1). Saul was panic stricken when he realized the size and power of the Philistine armies that were ready to attack. Could Saul forget that he had murdered all the Lord's priests or that the Prophet Samuel had said: Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king (15:23)? Out of jealousy, Saul also had forced David, the champion over Goliath, into exile. Saul was desperate and inquired of the Lord (28:6), but how could he receive an answer when the Lord had become his enemy (28:16)? How pathetic it is to see Saul riding through the night, frantically seeking counsel from a fortune-teller in Endor. He knew that mediums, spiritualists, witches, and fortune-tellers were an abomination to the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:10-12), and he had, much earlier in his reign, banished them from the land (I Samuel 28:3). However, the fortune-teller was no help to Saul; instead his fears increased even more. The next day Saul, along with the crown prince, Jonathan, and his brothers, fell in battle. In God's time Saul reaped what he had sowed --rebellion, ungodliness, and pride.
Saul's worst enemy was not the Philistines, but himself. He had lived a self-serving life with no hint of repentance for past evil actions. Power, wealth, popularity, and talents are often the greatest hindrances to our spiritual life. True success is the result of seeking the Lord's will, and that is done by reading the Word of God, while at the same time praying to the Lord for guidance.
The fool (26:21), like Saul, seeks guidance from psychics, fortune-tellers, palm readers, and other demon-controlled people, rather than crying out to the Lord in times of great distress than unconditionally relying upon the Him.
Saul did not worship false gods; yet, he chose to be obedient to the Lord only when it agreed with his own desires. We are the property of God, not only because He created us, but because, as Christians, we have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. All of our possessions, gifts, and talents as well as ourselves belong to Him. We are to be His managers of the assets He has entrusted to us, not merely for self-serving, but always to glorify Him.
What a joy to daily pray, read, and assimilate His Word with the assurance that the Holy Spirit will direct our thoughts to make the right decisions. No good thing will He withhold from from them that walk uprightly (Psalms 84:11).
Christ Revealed: Through the Urim (I Samuel 28:6), which was used to determine God's will. Today Christ speaks to us through His Spirit and His Word.
Word Studies: 28:2 keeper of mine head means captain of my bodyguard; 28:7 a familiar spirit means a fortune-teller (Lev. 19:31; 20:6,27); 28:15 sore means fiercely, deeply; 29:3 fell unto me means came over and joined me; 31:2 followed hard upon means overtook him.
BPM Staff: Diana Hash · Pray for Dr. Frank Wright, Honorary President, International Bible Reading Association; Director, Center for Christian Statemanship, Washington DC · Country: Congo, Republic of the (2 million) in west-central Africa · Major languages: French and Lingala · Limited religious freedom, but government hostility has lessened · 41% Roman Catholic; 20% fetishism and belief in ancestral spirits; 17% Protestant; 9% cults · Prayer Suggestion: Seek the Lord when you are oppressed (Psalms 102:8-13).
Optional Reading: Acts 11
Memory Verse for the Week: Psalms 34:7