1 Samuel 28 & 29

We are almost finished with 1 Samuel! I know the last few weeks haven’t been posted on a regular day. Our internet has been insanely terrible, and then we had to leave the country with very little chance to prepare for a visa trip. All part of the joy of being missionaries in a different country. This week we have both chapter 28 and 29, so hopefully you still read a chapter 3 times last week, and you can read 29 this week 3 times, and this study talks about both chapters together.


The Philistines are going to war against Israel. Achish (from chapter 27 we know he is the son of Maoch, king of Gath) has asked David and his men to go into battle with him with David as his bodyguard because he believes that David has been battling the Negeb rather than Achish’s own, the Philistines. So, Achish trusts David and brings him along to battle. However, the Philistine lords do not like this idea and believe that as soon as possible David and his men will turn against the Philistines to get back into Saul’s good graces. So, David and his men leave the battle to go back to Ziklag.

In the meantime Samuel has died and the people have mourned for his death. Saul had put all of the mediums and necromancers out of the land, and now is seeking the Lord about this battle he faces with the Philistines, but God does not answer. So, Saul goes against his own laws and seeks out a medium to raise Samuel to ask him for help. Samuel is indeed raised by this medium who fears for her life in even attempting to raise someone, let alone when she finds out that it is Saul asking. Saul promises no harm will come to her, and pays homage to Samuel. Samuel is not all that happy that he has been disturbed, and in response to Saul’s pleas for aid in his dire situation, reminds him that this is what Samuel had prophesied. Then Samuel goes on to share that Saul and his children will die in this battle, and that Israel will fall to the Philistines.

Saul is so scared that he lays flat out on the ground, losing all strength because he hasn’t eaten since the afternoon prior. The medium gets food for Saul and his companions make him eat against his arguments.


The Philistines, Israel, Achish, David, David’s men, Achish’s army, Samuel, Saul, mediums, necromancers, Saul’s army, Saul’s companions, the Lord, the commanders of the Philistines

Key Verse

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” Verse 15

Cross References

1 Samuel 16:14 Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him.

1 Samuel 18:12 Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.

1 Samuel 28:6 And when Saul inquired f the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.


Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Saul is terrified, he has been scared over and over and it is just getting worse in these two chapters. Saul is in a full blown panic as impending doom is upon him.

What stands out to me in these two chapters is what is not said. Saul does not repent and turn to God, he desperately seeks God for a way out. When we seek God with all of our heart, wanting to hear His Will, it may not always be the words we want to hear from God, but we have His promises throughout the Bible that he is near to those who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18). Saul is seeking God out of self preservation and fear, desperate for a solution that is what he wants to hear. But he does not receive that. Samuel reminds him that this is all what was prophesied before. God doesn’t need to say new words, Saul just needs to hear the words God has spoken already and believe them.

Saul returns to his bad habits over and over again. Again he is not eating at a time when he needs strength. Again he is afraid when God has already spoken about what is going to happen and who is meant to be king. The story of Saul is truly very sad, and yet we have all been there I believe. We have all taken step after step away from what we know is right justifying along the way until we are steeped in sin. When I finally recognize my sin has gotten me into a deep whole, oftentimes pride keeps me from saying it out loud. Have you ever felt that icky feeling of admitting how wrong you were? It doesn’t feel all that good to admit, to sit in the pain and the consequences of wrong actions. However, it is the right thing to do.

David’s part here also contains negative space, the unspoken words. I am left wondering what he would have done if he went to battle with them. Was he excited at the chance to fight the Israelites because now he would be somehow justified in his mind? Was David looking for a way out, but didn’t want to seem hesitant because Achish would figure out his ruse? Was David relieved to leave the battle behind? Would David have turned on the Philistines in the battle, just as the lords predicted? So much is left unsaid. What seems to be happening is God providing when there was no good way for it to turn out. David and his men would have been in a tight place in that battle.

Jesus in the Old Testament

*A person’s true character is often most evident when the person is under great pressure. The looming Philistine battle with which chapter 28 begins puts both David and Saul under great pressure. Saul is terrified (28:5) and, having ignored or rejected the word of the Lord all his life, he now seeks it in desperation (28:6). When God remains silent, however, instead of asking what in his life may have caused this, Saul turns to a medium, specifically a necromancer (28:7). Saul is not concerned with repentance or a relationship with God, but only with rescue.*

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

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Author: Annie Liss

Currently a mother and a wife who loves reading. Formerly a middle school math teacher who kept too busy and stressed out to read. My husband and I are missionaries in Lebanon.

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