Protestantism/1 samuel 29:19
hi i was reading the old testament the other day and i read 1 samuel 29:19 Samuel said to Saul ,"why have you disturbed me? when they summoned samuels spirit to get advise. my question is that all in the bible God says dont consult with physics or mediums. i always believed that when you die you your in the ground until the rapture, or you either go to hell or heaven. but this chapter of 1 samuel confused me . ive always believed that when people say they have seen there loved ones that have passed away years ago they are not experiencing there loved ones but demons imitating them because God is a God of order not confusion,hes not going to let spirits just roam around as they please. but this verse is telling me that spirits of the deceased are in fact floating around and popping in and out of our dimensions. i was hoping you could offer some insight for me if you could. thanks!
Thanks for your question. This passage has confused a number of people, and many have come away with the idea that it was actually Samuel speaking to Saul in the interaction, which obviously goes against several Biblical precedents. First, it would mean that as you mentioned, the dead are still conscious and floating around. Second, it would mean that witches and mediums have power over the spirits of the dead Saints(!) to force Samuel to answer question for a king of whom it was written, “Yahweh answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.” (1Sam 28:6)
The important thing to remember is that the incident in 1 Samuel is recorded from the perspective of Saul, who from the woman's description "perceived it was Samuel."
"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." (v.14)
From this point on in the narrative, it identifies the being as Samuel according to Saul's perceptions, despite that a few lines earlier it stated that God would not answer Saul via prophets. The possible conclusions are these:
1) A pagan sorceress caused the Almighty to reverse His decision about this matter, forcing the spirit of a saint to do her bidding.
2) It was a demon impersonating Samuel, and the narrative identified it from Saul's perspective.
If we look at the parallel account of this encounter in Chronicles, it clarifies the matter immensely:
“So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against Yahweh, even against the word of Yahweh, which he kept not; and also for asking [counsel] of [one that had] a familiar spirit, to enquire [of it].” (1Chron 10:13)
Now, you will notice several words in [brackets] in that text. Brackets, or italics in some King James Bibles, indicate that the words were added by translators to help clarify the meaning and were not in the original text.
Unfortunately, not all translator's additions were as helpful as they intended. Taking out the additional words, we find the passage as-written reads thus:
“So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against Yahweh, even against the word of Yahweh, which he kept not; and also for asking of a familiar spirit, to enquire.” (1Chron 10:13)
Saul's sin was asking of a familiar spirit - "owb" in Hebrew - an evil spirit or demon that attaches itself to the witch or medium in question. (Isa. 19:3, Lev. 20:27, 2 Chr. 33:6) Essentially, Saul was deceived by a false spirit impersonating Samuel, and the record in 1 Samuel records this event from his perspective.
Saul's successor David, and his son Solomon after him, made certain that there would be no question on the matter of the state of the dead after Saul's error:
"The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence." (Psa. 115:17)
"For in death [there is] no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" (Psa. 6:5)
"For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 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. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun... Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." (Ecc. 9:4-6, 10)
I hope that this answers your question sufficiently. If you have any further questions please feel free to ask. You may also be interested to read an article on this topic at http://www.csda-adventistchurch.to/Binary/
I believe it is under the heading of "State of the Dead 2."