Some interesting things going on here in this passage.
- Saul seemingly has obeyed God and banished all sorcerers, mediums, diviners and enchanters from the land.
- Saul needs to make a decision but he has killed the high priest and Samuel has died so he abandons the whole seeking and waiting on God thing and in hypocritical self interest runs to a medium which are supposedly banished from the land.
- Saul’s men know immediately and exactly where there is a medium, meaning that he had not really banished them at all. The mediums were still accessible. Once again he had not fully obeyed the Word of the LORD.
- Saul swears by the LORD to not harm the medium, which is in exact contradiction to what God has commanded him and all of Israel to do (Deuteronomy 18:10-14)
- Saul asks the medium to bring up Samuel, yet when it actually happens she cries out and is seemingly afraid. This seems to indicated that she wasn’t expecting this to happen. This points out to me that this woman was generally a fraud and the fact that something truly happened freaked her out.
- Saul disguised himself and the medium was deceived. I think this is a second characteristic of the medium that points out that generally she was a fraud.
- Saul disguised himself and thought he could fool her, which he did, which reveals even how little from the get go his faith was in her and his view of her power.
When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.” So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?” But Saul swore to her by the LORD, “As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.” The king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.
(1 Samuel 28:5-14 ESV)