Tuesday, March 15, 2011

1 Samuel: 26-32 Demons, Psychics, and King Saul

Witch of Endor (detail of "The Shade of S...Image via Wikipedia
Today the Doctor Oz Show featured John Edward, a psychic who communicates with the dead.  The audience displayed a spectrum of emotions ranging from outright enthusiasm to cautious approval at his revelations.  In every instance this man communicated something from the dead which indicated that the deceased were in some way still participating in the lives of friends and family members who survived them. 

It was a disturbing episode which I chose not to watch too closely.  But, it does correspond to these chapters from 1 Samuel.

Before King Saul’s last battle, he saw the Philistine army and was overcome with terror. Forty years earlier, when the Spirit of God left him, the spirit of fear presented itself in Saul when he defied God’s commands.  Without the restraining effect of God’s Spirit, the evil spirit which tormented Saul simply flourished unchecked.  Its fruit was more fear and more terror.  So, Saul, a seasoned warrior, was afraid of entering into this battle.

The evil that flourished in him had now expressed itself as overarching fear.  And Saul was so terrified in every level of his being that he even searched out the Witch of Endor, a medium. Saul wanted to know what he would face in this battle.

“1 Samuel 28: 7 (KJV)  Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit (Hebrew אוֹב ), that I may go to her, and enquire of her.  And his servants said to him, Behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

The Hebrew אוֹב, for familiar spirit denotes the idea of being possessed by a python, or soothsaying demon; of being like a bottle filled with an external substance.  Soothsayers evoked the manes of the dead by incantations and magical songs in order to give answers about future or doubtful things.  Both in Leviticus 20:6 and in Leviticus 19: 31, God specifically prohibited Israel from engaging in necromancy or in sorcery. Mediums were not to be tolerated or consulted.  God clearly stated that there was danger in dealing with demons.

So Saul, who couldn’t obey God during his forty year reign over Israel, was finally overcome by a spirit of fear which ruled his life after he rejected God’s authority.  Through this psychic, Saul talked to a spirit he perceived to be the prophet Samuel.  While this spirit said nothing that would be inconsistent with Samuel, it basically further fed Saul’s terror by underscoring that God had departed from him and had become his enemy.  This spirit amplified Saul’s fears and probably so demoralized him that he could not lead a successful military campaign against the Philistines.  This spirit served to so discourage Saul that the Philistines would be virtually guaranteed a victory over Israel.

Satan, the great liar, who also knows everything about us, can allow a demon to impersonate anyone.  I feel that Satan’s minions, his demons, can play on our desire to communicate with the dead by allowing his minions to talk as though they are spirits we know, while really promoting Satan’s kingdom.

When God spoke to men before battles, He would say things like “Be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:7)  Whenever God spoke or a prophet spoke in God’s name or an angel bearing God’s message spoke, it was always an encouraging, uplifting, assuring word.  God’s Word always dissipates fear. 

So, it seems to me, that Saul, completely in the hands of an evil spirit, also communicated with an evil spirit who pretended to be Samuel; with a spirit who wanted to drive more nails into the coffin that had become Saul’s life; with a spirit who stood opposed to Israel; with a spirit who wanted to inflict losses and casualties on a people God had chosen as His own.

With regard to Dr. Oz’s show today, I would caution anyone from seeking out someone with a familiar spirit because it is not from God; because it is a demon which will settle into your life and will only generate terror while pretending to be something benignly spiritual.

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for 'owb (Strong's 178)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 15 Mar 2011. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=H178&t=KJV >

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