So who was it? Samuel or an evil spirit?

The 28th chapter of 1 Samuel describes how King Saul turned to God for advice, but God did not answer him because of his disobedience. Then King Saul went to the sorceress of Endor to summon the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel, although this was forbidden by God. Was Samuel or an evil spirit shown to him?

I believe the Scriptures make it clear that it was Samuel who rose up from the earth to speak to King Saul. There are several reasons that make this fact obvious.

The first is that the sorceress herself was surprised and terrified. Scripture says, “When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice ” (1 Sam. 28:12). This verse says that she saw Samuel, not an evil spirit. She wouldn’t be shocked and scared if it was an evil spirit. She had seen evil spirits before as it was her practice. She knew that she could not summon the real Samuel, but only a demon that would impersonate him (a divining spirit).

In addition, when she saw the real Samuel, she realized that Saul had asked her to. She said, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” (1 Sam. 28:12). She must have known that Samuel was often with Saul because the prophets had an audience with the king. She immediately linked the two personalities.

The second reason is that Samuel’s appearance occurred before the sorceress began her ritual or spells. God immediately interrupted him. Samuel’s appearance was permitted and caused by God, as some comments indicate, since it was a king and it concerned the people of Israel. God made such an exception. God made exceptions elsewhere in the Bible. One example is the fact that He allowed Samson to marry a Philistine woman in Judges 14:4, which was not allowed for an Israelite.

The third reason is that the sorceress described the appearance of Samuel: “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.” (1 Samuel 28:14). Samuel was really old, and he wore a robe, as the prophets were supposed to (1 Sam. 15:27).

The fourth reason is found in 1 Samuel 28:14, which says that “Saul knew it was Samuel.” I’m sure Saul knew because he saw him. He realized that it was Samuel. Also, verse 14 says that Saul “he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground…” He must have been firmly convinced that the king should bow down to Samuel.

The fifth reason is the most important. This passage says twice about what Samuel said: “Samuel said” (v. 15) and “Samuel said” (v. 16). If it were an evil spirit, Scripture would not call him Samuel. The Bible itself answers this question. God’s Word says exactly what it means.

The next reason is that Samuel foretold the future in detail, which an evil spirit could not have done. The devil does not know the future.

“Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”” (1 Sam. 28:16-19).

If it had been an evil spirit, then he would not have reprimanded Saul for disobeying God and, more importantly, could not have predicted the future so accurately and in detail.

The last reason can be found in verse 20, which says, “I was greatly afraid of the words of Samuel.” And again it is indicated that these were “the words of Samuel.” The Bible would not write down lies that would lead to confusion. Four times Scripture specifically says that it really was Samuel. This clearly sums up and leaves no doubt.

Posted by Bill Wiese /
Translation by Julia Okereshko for


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