It's ironic that Saul, who refused to obey Samuel's prophecies when he was alive, would be so desperate as to consult a medium. He had just recently "cleared" the land of mediums and such, and said that any who were found would be put to death. But the king who ignored Samuel in life wanted to hear from him one more time.
Ancient peoples had the feeling that they were living in close contact with a spirit world. There were so many things about their world that they could not understand, so it was convenient to say that things were caused by "spirits." Magicians and witch doctors would make a practice of interpreting ordinary things like the flights of birds, or the stars and the wind.
We've seen in our study that God's opinion of these practices, and of the "arts" of witchcraft and magic, is quite clear. He not only wanted the person who performed the fortune-telling or divination gone; He also blamed the person who consulted the medium, as well.
Saul was so afraid of his own future that he grabbed it with both hands. He manipulated people. He tried to (and did) kill people. He kept trying to control people and his circumstances, and have his life turn out just the way he wanted, all the way up until his death. His disobedience and his guilty conscience instilled a fear inside him that was overwhelming.
The woman of Endor must have seen that in Saul's eyes. She was frightened, too. First, she was frightened when he asked for her to "call up" someone -- even though she didn't yet know it was Saul, she knew that it was the king's order that all mediums and spiritists be cleared out of the country. But the real fear for her came when she actually saw a spirit -- it was she who saw and identified the vision as the prophet Samuel. Since she had never been successful before, this was truly frightening!
I wonder as I read this, if the woman was affected by the words of Samuel. They were a bell tolling for Saul; there was no escape this time from the judgement of God. She seems to have been able to calm her own fears and gently suggest to the frightened and demoralized king, that he needed to eat. Perhaps her own calm and resolve was from a determination to follow the God that Samuel represented. To end the life she knew as a medium, and go forward as a child of Yahweh. We don't know this, for the passage does not say it. But anything is possible, especially when the Lord is reaching down to effect changes. Perhaps her encounter with a true prophet of God caused her to forsake the path that she'd been on for so long.
Saul was without God. And he was scared. His future, and a feeling of not being able to control it, scared him. That's why he kept trying to look "in all the wrong places" for help. We know that God is our only true source of comfort, and of help.
If the Creator of the universe has promised to guide us, to direct our steps, and to reveal what we need to see, when we need to see it, why, oh why, don't we step into our futures with confidence? These are precious promises that we can cling to:
This is what the Lord says" "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)And we have no need of divination, do we? Listen to what God asks each of us: "Should not a people inquire of their God?" (Isaiah 8:19a)
When we ask, this is our assurance:
I hope the woman of Endor's life was changed after her encounter with Saul.
God will protect us from evil, and He will make Himself known to those who follow Him and love Him. We can truly step into the future with confidence!