19 November 2007

1 Samuel 28:3-19

"So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes and went there, he and two men with him. They came to the woman by night. And he said, 'Consult a spirit for me, and bring up the one whom I name to you'. The woman said to him, 'Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?'" (v.8-9)


1 Samuel is the story of how kingship was established in Israel. As the book shows it was not a smooth or easy task. Saul was enthroned as the first king but struggled both in ruling Israel and being obedient to God.

'D'esperate is an apposite term to explain the final days of King Saul's life. In today's reading, a desperate King Saul dons adisguise to deceive a diviner in order to discover what the Lord wants him to do. This deed of deception and other acts ofdisobedience leads to both his immediate downfall as king and eventual death.

Aside from the alliteration of the letter 'd', this passage of scripture highlights the importance of obeying God and acknowledging that he knows best in all circumstances.

Today's reading looks at a king who was once so 'anointed' that he was considered a prophet, but is forced to turn to a fortune-teller because his defiance had resulted in the Lord abandoning him.

It is easy to condemn King Saul's unbelief and disobedience, but we do know that 'desperate people do desperate things'. When trouble comes knocking, our first response is often to rely on our own resources rather than on God. It is often the case that only when the situation becomes really desperate that we turn to the Lord.

An antonym of desperation is hope, and having God on our side always means there is hope - no wonder the great hymn writer Charles Wesley described him as 'my Strength, my Hope, On Thee I cast my care' (Hymns & Psalms 680).

To Ponder

What is our first response to a crisis?

A desperate person is often forced into doing desperate things - how can we avoid getting into Saul-like situations?

Bible notes author

Richard Reddie

Richard Reddie is an author and researcher, who for three years headed up the set all free project which marked the 2007 slave trade bicentenary. He also worked as an education policy officer for Race On The Agenda (ROTA), a social policy think-tank looking at issues affecting London's Black Minority Ethnic Community.