1 Samuel 28:8 And Saul disguised himself... and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee... 11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. 12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul. 13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. 14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. 15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do. 16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? 17 And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David: 18 Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day. 19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines. 20 Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.
The Bible does not say that the ‘spirit of Samuel’ was ‘called back from the grave’.
Spirit in Hebrew is ‘ruwach’; in Greek it is ‘pneuma’.
When we die our ‘soul’ (Hebrew ‘nephesh’ – ‘being’) dies.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die.
Our ‘body’ returns to dust:
Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Our ‘spirit’ (life force) returns to God.
Ecclesiastes 8:8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit ; neither hath he power in the day of death:
Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit : and having said thus, he gave up the ghost (expired).
Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit .
The spirit is the ‘life force’ that gives us independent existence; it does not go into the grave with us; neither is it a part of us that has a conscious existence after death.
The Bible is clear on the state of the dead.
Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Psalms 146:4 His breath (spirit ) goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Those described as having familiar spirits (Hebrew ‘owb’ – a mumble – not ‘ruwach’) are known today as ‘mediums’. They claim to be able to communicate with the dead.
Isaiah 8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
The claim is false; for the dead have no conscious existence. Those who deceive others by purporting to give messages from the dead were punished by death under the Law given by God through Moses.
The Bible describes the dead as ‘sleeping with their fathers’.
David for example:
1 Kings 2:10 So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
Peter confirms this:
Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day... 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens...
Job speaks of death as sleep.
Job 7:21 And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.
Daniel also speaks of death as ‘sleep’ when prophesying of the future resurrection to judgment:
Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Paul speaks of believers who had died as being ‘asleep’:
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
Saul’s intention was that the woman should ‘bring up’ or cause Samuel to ascend from the grave so that he might get some advice on his predicament.
It is a fact made plain in the Bible that the living cannot communicate with the dead because the dead have no conscious existence.
The only way that we can have life after death is by resurrection from the dead.
It is reasonable to assume that what took place was arranged by God; with whom all things are possible. Whether we understand it as a vision or a temporary resurrection of Samuel for the purpose makes little difference.
I am inclined to the view that it was a vision given by God to the woman and Samuel’s message was relayed to Saul by her. She cried out because it was not something that she expected to see. God at the same time revealed the identity of Saul to her, though she does not seem to recognise Samuel.
Samuel speaks not as a ‘spirit’, but as one who has been awoken from sleeping in the earth.
1 Samuel 28:15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?
The woman describes Samuel as Saul remembered him, clothed with a mantle as in the event described in 1 Samuel 15:27-28.
1 Samuel 15:27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. 28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
Samuel explains that what he had told him then is about to happen to him.
1 Samuel 28:17 And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David: 18 Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.
Saul was going to die and he and his sons would join Samuel in death; sleeping in the dust of the ground.
1 Samuel 28:19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me:
Saul would join Samuel in death; not in a conscious reunion.
There is an interesting event in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus which shows how God worked with a vision. Admittedly the person involved was still alive but he was not himself aware of being present in Saul’s vision.
Acts 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
I hope you have found this helpful.
God bless you,