1 Kings xxviii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Israel. God made use of the ill-will of the Philistines to punish Saul, and to make way for David to the throne. (Salien) — Each of the five lords brought their armies into the field, where they were united. Achis, placing the greatest confidence in David, requires his attendance. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. Do; or “can do.” Thou wilt be convinced of my valour and fidelity. (Haydock) — But could David lawfully fight against his brethren? or could he desert Achis in the heat of the engagement? His answer is ambiguous. (Calmet) — He prudently committed his cause into the hands of Providence, resolved to do nothing contrary to his duty, and to abide by God’s decision, in this critical juncture, so that Cajetan blames him unjustly. (Salien; Menochius; Tirinus) — Guard. Septuagint, “captain of my body guard.”

Ver. 3. Samuel. His death is here recorded, as well as the abolition of magic, to explain what follows, when Saul, not being able to obtain an answer from God, as his prophet had been withdrawn in anger, had recourse to the devil. (Haydock) — Land, while he reigned virtuously, (Menochius) according to the law, Leviticus xix 31., and Deuteronomy xviii. 11.

Ver. 4. Gelboe. So that he occupied the parts south of the vale of Jezrahel, while the Philistines were encamped on the north, in the tribe of Issachar. (Menochius)

Ver. 5. Dismayed. It was so numerous, while his own conscience upbraided him with being at enmity with God, who increased his fears. (Salien)

Ver. 6. Dreams. During which God often revealed his will. See Deuteronomy xiii. 3. — Priests. Hebrew, “nor by Urim.” It seems Saul had appointed some priests, and had fabricated a fresh ephod, with the Urim, &c., after the departure of Abiathar. (Calmet) — But Salien calls this in question, and there might neither be priests nor prophets for Saul to consult. (Haydock) — God despised a man, who had slain so many of his sacred ministers. (Menochius)

Ver. 7. Spirit. Hebrew, “an ob,” or vessel distended, as such impostors seemed to swell at the presence of the spirit. Septuagint, “a belly talker.” They endeavour to speak from that part. We read of some who, without magic, have possessed the art in great perfection, so as to deceive the company, and make them think that some one was calling them from a great distance; as was the case with one Farming in England, 1645. (Dickenson, c. 9.) — Brodeus mentions that the valet of Francis I could thus counterfeit the speech of people deceased, and by these means prevailed upon a rich young woman to marry him, and a banker of Lyons to give him a large sum of money. James Rodoginus, a possessed person in Italy, 1513, could make articulate sounds from the hollow of his belly, when his lips and nostrils were closed up. The oracles of idols were generally given in a low tone, as if they proceeded from the earth. Submissi petimus terram & vox fertur ad aures. (Virgil) — Those of Apollo were the most famous, and hence a divining spirit is called a Python. Saul must have been stupidly blind, thus to depend on what he had formerly banished with such care. (Calmet) — He flattered himself that some would still be left, especially among the women, who are most addicted to superstition, as well as to religion. (Menochius) — Endor was distant from Gelboe about four hours’ walk. (Adrichomius) — But Saul made a long circuit to avoid the enemy. (Salien, v. 20.)

Ver. 8. Clothes, that he might not fill the woman or his army with dismay. (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Thing. He adds this crime of swearing unjustly, to all the rest. (Saline[Salien?])

Ver. 11. Samuel. Here we behold the antiquity of necromancy, which is a proof that people believed the soul’s immortality; animas responsa daturas. (Horace, i. sat. 8.) (Calmet) — Protestants sometimes deny (Haydock) that souls appear again, contrary to this history and Matthew xvii. (St. Augustine) (Worthington)

Ver. 12. Woman. The Rabbins pretend that she was Abner’s mother, (Calmet) which is extremely improbable, as he was of the tribe of Benjamin, and a man of such renown. (Salien) — Theodoret follows their opinion, in supposing that the woman was startled, because Samuel appeared in a standing posture, and not with his feet upwards, or lying down on his back, as in a coffin, which they say (Calmet) is the usual manner of spirits appearing to people of her character. (Bellarmine, Purgat. ii. 6.) — She cried out, because he appeared before she had begun her incantations, and was arrayed like a priest, according to Josephus, (Haydock) in great majesty, or she pretended to see him, the better to impose upon the king; for some think that all was a delusion. (Calmet) — Saul. This she learnt either from Samuel, (Josephus) or from her familiar spirit. (Menochius)

Ver. 13. Gods, or one venerable and divine personage. (Worthington) — Elohim, is applied to Samuel for greater honour. It is a title given to the true God, to idols, and people in dignity. (Calmet)

Ver. 14. Understood that it was Samuel. It is the more common opinion of the holy fathers, and interpreters, that the soul of Samuel appeared indeed; and not, as some have imagined, an evil spirit in his shape. Not that the power of her magic could bring him thither, but that God was pleased for the punishment of Saul, that Samuel himself should denounce unto him the evils that were falling upon him. See Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 23. (Challoner) — The passage is decisive; (Tirinus) he slept and he made known to the king, and shewed him the end of his life, and he lifted up his voice from the earth, in prophecy, &c. Those who have called in question the reality of Samuel’s apparition, seem not to have remembered this passage. (Haydock) — Yet his soul was not united to his body, (Salien) nor was he adduced by the power of the devil, but (Du Hamel) by a just judgment of God, to denounce destruction to the wicked king. (St. Augustine, &c.) (Tirinus) — The woman, beholding Samuel, fled out of the place, to Saul’s companions, and left him alone with the king, ver. 21. — Adored Samuel with an inferior honour, as the friend of God, exalted in glory. (Salien) — That Samuel really appeared, is the more common opinion of the fathers. (St. Augustine, Cura. xv.) (Worthington)

Ver. 15. Up. To inform a person of something very terrible, is distressing; and though the saints deceased cannot partake in the afflictions of mortals, yet we read that “the angels of peace will weep, but they will approve of the just sentence of the judge” against the reprobate. (Haydock) — The Scripture language conforms itself to the opinions of the people, who thought that such avocations disturbed the soul’s repose. Hence the fathers at [the Synod of] Elvira (Canon xxxi.) forbid “the lighting of wax candles in church-yards during the day, for the spirits of the saints are not to be disquieted.” Isaias (xiv. 9,) represents hell all in commotion, at the approach of the king of Babylon. These expressions are figurative. (Calmet) — God does not encourage magical arts, on this occasion, but rather prevents their operation, as he did, when Balaam would have used some superstitious practices, Numbers xxiv. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 16. Rival. How vain is it to expect that a prophet can give an answer, when the Lord is silent! Hebrew, “is become thy enemy.” (Haydock)

Ver. 17. To thee. Hebrew, “to him.” This was only a repetition of what Samuel had before denounced, chap. xv. 28. If the evil spirit spoke this, he was not guilty of falsehood, no more than [in] Matthew viii. 29. (Calmet) — But would he dare so often to repeat the name of the Lord? (Haydock) — Could he know what would happen to Saul, &c., the next day? (Worthington)

Ver. 19. To-morrow. Usher supposes some days afterwards. But all might take place the day after this was spoken. (Calmet) — Sons, except Isboseth, who enjoyed, for a time, part of his father’s kingdom. (Haydock) — With me. That is, in the state of the dead, and in another world, though not in the same place. (Challoner)

Ver. 20. Day, through excessive anguish. (Haydock) — He fainted away; upon which his attendants and the woman rushed in. (Salien)

Ver. 21. Hand, in the most imminent danger. See Judges xii. 3.

Ver. 24. Calf, destined for a victim or feast, Luke xv. 23., and Proverbs xv. 17. (Calmet) — The generosity of this woman deserves commendation. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] vi. 15.) (Haydock)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The Philistines go out to war against Israel. Saul being forsaken by God, hath recourse to a witch. Samuel appeareth to him.

1 And *it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered together their armies, to be prepared for war against Israel: And Achis said to David: Know thou now assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to the war, thou, and thy men.

2 And David said to Achis: Now thou shalt know what thy servant will do. And Achis said to David: And I will appoint thee to guard my life for ever.

3 *Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel mourned for him, and buried him in Ramatha, his city. And Saul had put away all the magicians and soothsayers out of the land.

4 And the Philistines were gathered together, and came and encamped in Sunam: and Saul also gathered together all Israel, and came to Gelboe.

5 And Saul saw the army of the Plilistines, and was afraid, and his heart was very much dismayed.

6 And he consulted the Lord, and he answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by priests, nor by prophets.

7 And Saul said to his servants: Seek me a woman that hath a *divining spirit, and I will go to her, and enquire by her. And his servants said to him: There is a woman that hath a divining spirit at Endor.

8 Then he disguised himself: and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night, and he said to her: Divine to me by thy divining spirit, and bring me up him whom I shall tell thee.

9 And the woman said to him: Behold thou knowest all that Saul hath done, and how he hath rooted out the magicians and soothsayers from the land: why then dost thou lay a snare for my life, to cause me to be put to death?

10 And Saul swore unto her by the Lord, saying: As the Lord liveth, there shall no evil happen to thee for this thing.

11 And the woman said to him: Whom shall I bring up to thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.

12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice, and said to Saul: Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.

13 And the king said to her: Fear not: what hast thou seen? and the woman said to Saul: I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

14 And he said to her: What form is he of? And she said: An old man cometh up, and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul understood that it was Samuel, and he bowed himself with his face to the ground, and adored.

15 And Samuel said to Saul: *Why hast thou disturbed my rest, that I should be brought up? And Saul said: I am in great distress: for the Philistines fight against me, and God is departed from me, and would not hear me, neither by the hand of prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayst shew me what I shall do.

16 And Samuel said: Why askest thou me, seeing the Lord has departed from thee, and is gone over to thy rival?

17 For the Lord will do to thee as he spoke by me, and he will rend thy kingdom out of thy hand, and will give it to thy neighbour David:

18 Because thou didst not obey the voice of the Lord, neither didst thou execute the wrath of his indignation upon Amalec. Therefore hath the Lord done to thee what thou sufferest this day.

19 And the Lord also will deliver Israel with thee into the hands of the Philistines: and to-morrow thou and thy sons shall be with me: and the Lord will also deliver the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.

20 And forthwith Saul fell all along on the ground; for he was frightened with the words of Samuel, and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no bread all that day.

21 And the woman came to Saul, (for he was very much troubled) and said to him: Behold thy handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand: and I hearkened unto the words which thou spokest to me.

22 Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also the voice of thy handmaid, and let me set before thee a morsel of bread, that thou mayest eat and recover strength, and be able to go on thy journey.

23 But he refused, and said: I will not eat. But his servants and the woman forced him, and at length hearkening to their voice, he arose from the ground, and sat upon the bed.

24 Now the woman had a fatted calf in the house, and she made haste and killed it: and taking meal, kneaded it, and baked some unleavened bread,

25 And set it before Saul, and before his servants. And when they had eaten they rose up, and walked all that night.



1: Year of the World 2949, Year before Christ 1055.

3: 1 Kings xxv. 1.; Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 23.

7: Leviticus xx. 27.; Deuteronomy xviii. 11.; Acts xvi. 16.

15: Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 23.