Beginning of the End


Saul Takes His Own Life

This chapter is based on 1 Samuel 28; 31.

“The Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem,” while Saul and his forces camped a few miles away at the foot of Mount Gilboa. Saul felt alone and defenseless, because God had forsaken him. As he looked around at the Philistine army, “he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.” BOE 341.1

Saul had expected that David would take this opportunity to get revenge for the wrongs he had suffered, and the king was in great distress. It was his own unreasonable anger spurring him on to destroy God’s chosen man that had put the nation in great danger. While pursuing David, he had neglected the defense of his kingdom. The Philistines, taking advantage of its unguarded condition, had gone into the very heart of the country. While Satan had been urging Saul to destroy David, the same hateful spirit inspired the Philistines to try to ruin Saul. How often Satan moves upon some unconsecrated person to start a quarrel in the church, and then, taking advantage of the divided condition of God’s people, he stirs up his agents to bring about their ruin. BOE 341.2

The next day Saul must fight the Philistines. Dark shadows of impending doom gathered about him. He longed for guidance, but even though he looked for counsel from God, “the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim, or by the prophets.” BOE 341.3

The Lord never turned away anyone who came to Him in sincerity. Why did He turn Saul away unanswered? The king had rejected the counsel of Samuel the prophet; he had exiled David, the chosen of God; he had killed the priests of the Lord. Could God answer him when he had cut off the channels of communication that Heaven had established? Saul did not want pardon for sin and reconciliation with God—he only wanted deliverance from his enemies. By rebellion he had cut himself off from God, and he could return only by confessing and forsaking his wrongs. BOE 341.4

“Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’” The Lord had forbidden attempts to talk with the dead, and the sentence of death was pronounced against anyone who practiced such unholy arts. Saul had commanded that all wizards and those who arranged spirit contact should be put to death, but now, in desperation, he resorted to that which he had condemned as an abomination. BOE 341.5

A woman who had an evil spirit was living in hiding at Endor. She had promised Satan to fulfill his purposes and, in return, the prince of evil revealed secret things to her. BOE 342.1

Pretending to be someone else, Saul went by night with two other men to find the sorceress. Oh, what a pitiful sight! The king of Israel led captive by Satan! Trust in God and obedience to His will were the only conditions on which Saul could be king of Israel. If he had respected these conditions, his kingdom would have been safe; God would have been his guide, the Almighty his shield. Although his rebellion and stubbornness had nearly silenced the divine voice in his soul, there was still opportunity for him to repent. But when Saul, facing danger, turned to Satan, he cut the last tie that bound him to his Maker. He placed himself fully under the control of the satanic power that for years had brought him to the edge of destruction. BOE 342.2

Under cover of darkness, Saul and his companions safely passed the Philistine army. They crossed the mountain ridge to the lonely home of the sorceress of Endor. Even though he was disguised, Saul’s unusual height and kingly bearing showed that he was not a common soldier. The rich gifts that he offered strengthened her suspicions. To his request the woman answered, “Saul has ... cut off the mediums and the spiritists from the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?” Then “Saul swore to her by the Lord, saying, ‘As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.’” And when she said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” he answered, “Samuel.” BOE 342.3

After performing her magic rituals, she said, “‘I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth. ... An old man is coming 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 down.” BOE 342.4

It was not God’s prophet that appeared. Samuel was not present in that den of evil spirits. Satan could as easily take the form of Samuel as he could assume that of an angel of light when he tempted Christ in the wilderness. BOE 342.5

The message to Saul from the pretended prophet was, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.” BOE 342.6

When Samuel was alive, Saul had hated his counsel, but now, in order to communicate with Heaven’s ambassador, he had gone to the messenger of hell! Saul had placed himself fully in Satan’s power, and now he whose only pleasure is found in making people miserable and destroying them made the most of his opportunity to ruin the unhappy king. In answer came the terrible message, supposedly from the lips of Samuel: BOE 342.7

“The Lord has departed from you and has become your enemy. ... The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines.” BOE 343.1

Satan had led Saul to justify himself in defying Samuel’s reproofs and warning, but now he turned on him, hoping to push him to desperation by showing the enormity of his sin and the impossibility of pardon. Nothing could have been better chosen to destroy his courage and confuse his judgment, or to drive him to despair and self-destruction. Saul was faint with fasting, terrified, and knowingly guilty. His body swayed like an oak tree in a storm, and he fell flat to the ground. BOE 343.2

The sorceress was filled with alarm. The king of Israel lay before her as if he was dead. She begged him to eat some food, urging that since she had risked her life in granting his desire, he should give in to her request in order to preserve his own. Saul yielded, and the woman gave him the fatted calf and bread that she quickly prepared. BOE 343.3

What a scene! In the wild cave of the sorceress, in the presence of Satan’s messenger, the man who had been anointed of God as king over Israel sat down to eat, getting ready for the day’s deadly battle. BOE 343.4

By consulting that spirit of darkness, Saul had destroyed himself. Depressed by feelings of despair, it would be impossible for him to inspire his army with courage. He could not lead the minds of Israel to look to God as their helper. Thus the prediction of evil would help to bring about those very events. BOE 343.5