1 Samuel 28.7. "Then said Saul unto his servants, seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, 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 En-dor."
The complete narrative from which this verse has been taken can be found in 1 Samuel 28 v. 5-19. On many occasions this story has been presented to assure us that it proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that the dead are alive in another place, (presumably heaven or Abraham's bosom), but the question is does it?.
Let me state plainly at the start of this article that I am deeply perplexed that any believer would dream of using these verses and this narrative to even think such a thing. It really does reveal the depths some would stoop to try and prove a doctrine the bible certainly does not teach. It is to inform those who would use this passage in their vain pursuit that we have taken the time to include it in our misunderstood texts, because being honest, to any clear thinking person such explanation should be totally unnecessary.
King Saul had at this stage and earlier caused a breach between himself and God through his disobedience. God had stopped communicating with him as the word of God makes clear "And when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets" 1Samuel 25.6. It was at this stage Saul determined to find someone with a familiar spirit so he could find out what to do.
It is at this point the perplexity begins, How could any Christian consider, never mind believe that the God of heaven who had refused to speak to Saul in any way including through a prophet, would now allow a woman in league with Satan and familiar spirits to grant Saul a request He,(God) had most definitely refused? On top of that we have the explicit commandment of God given to Israel that they were not to consult those who practiced those abominable rites and those who were wizards or had familiar spirits were to be put to death, (Leviticus 20.27, 1 Chronicles 18.10-14).
Are we now expected to believe that the God who outrightly condemned and abhorred these practices would now permit one of His most faithful and godly prophets to be "summoned" by a witch to advise Saul? How hard pressed people must be to use a scripture like this to prove the dead are still alive, it is absolutely ridiculous.
Notice Saul said "Bring me up Samuel" v11, so if Samuel was in heaven surely he would have to have come down. Others may suggest he was in "Abraham's bosom", so do they believe this place is somewhere in a downward direction, the centre of the earth or the likes. Samuel was dead and in "sheol" or "the grave" and of course if he was to appear it would have to be up. What the witch "brought up" was a familiar spirit, a demon being which had the power to impersonate men or women who had been at one time alive. The narrative makes it clear that Saul saw no one but was guided by the witch and her familiar spirit. Saul had to ask her for a description of what she had seen and from that description he supposed it was Samuel she had made appear. It was her who relayed to Saul what the demon spirit was imparting to her. Among other things the "familiar spirit" told him that on the morrow both he and his sons would be with Samuel v19. Does any Christian actually believe that Saul the rebellious, scripture breaking, God forsaken, witch consulting king was to be in "heaven" or the "paradise of Abraham's bosom" that next day with Samuel? Of course not! That was simply not true and neither was the statement that it would be on the morrow this would happen. A simple reading of the remaining chapters of 1 Samuel (29-31) will show that Saul and his son's deaths were at least 3 days later. Are we now to think Samuel had told Saul lies? Emphatically NO! Everything that has happened here is the work and words of a demonic familiar spirit and has nothing to do with the workings of God.
The first lie Satan told in Genesis 3.4 "Ye shall not surely die" has been the means of deceiving millions, including believers. If we would just accept what the bible says "The dead know not anything" Ecc. 9.5, what misunderstanding could have been avoided. No longer would our dear deluded Roman catholic friends pray to the saints and to Mary because they would realize both she and them are dead, no longer would the militant followers of Islam commit suicide because they would find no paradise with festal virgins awaits them, no longer would the spiritualist church grow at such an alarming rate because they would discover there is no one on the other side to communicate with and in fact, like the witch of En-dor they are summoning unclean, demonic familiar spirits and no longer would the "church" be guilty of casting a shadow over the holy character of God by teaching the unsaved are punished before they are judged or that believers can go to be with Christ and then brought back to earth again. All of this is a misunderstanding of scripture and leads to total confusion.
To conclude let me quote to you from 1 Chronicles 10.13-14 which relates to Saul’s death. The careful reader of the KJV will notice some words are in italics and are therefore not in the original writing so we will quote the verses leaving the italicized words out. "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking a familiar spirit, to enquire. And enquired not of the Lord; therefore He slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse" 1 Chronicles 10.13-14. Surely this is as plain as it can be, it was not Samuel he enquired to but a familiar spirit, no doubt impersonating Samuel.
We trust this will put an end to this story ever being brought up again to prove that after death people are alive in some sort of soul/spirit form.