Sermon No: 3842-Esther 6b - GODLY COUNSEL AND THE OCCULT


Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 9 October 2016


Sermon synopsis: Do you choose your path based on ungodly advice from family, friends and professional counsellors? We look at some other sources of bad advice:

- Astrology
- Other forms of divination (the attempt to foretell the future)
- Necromancy (the practice of attempting to communicate with the dead)

89% of psychics/mediums in the US believe the Bible is the word of God. Yet the Bible says, “You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes” (Lev 19:26). Gal 5:19-20 lists sorcery as an act of the flesh and 'those who practice magic arts' have no place in the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:15). Just because something is attributed to God, it does not necessarily follow that it is of God.

Jer 14:14 'The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.'

Bad advice

Last time we saw that Haman was the recipient of bad advice and would have to face the consequences. Who do you look to for advice when you need counsel – and is it good advice? Do you choose your path based on ungodly advice from family, friends and professional counsellors?

Ps 1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly… (NKJV)


We noted that:

Advice that you want to hear is not always godly advice, even if the adviser claims it comes from God.

Sometimes the people who are viewed as “experts” can give bad advice.

Don’t take advice that is based on man’s worldly wisdom, rather than on Biblical principles.

Sometimes bad advice comes from those who are close to us, and who are well-meaning.

The majority are not always correct. So don’t take advice based on peer pressure.


Sources we shouldn’t look to for advice and guidance:

The godless media

The ancestors and sangomas

The saints and Mary

Secular psychologists

Ungodly friends and family

Now we will look at some other sources of bad advice:


Other forms of divination



Divination is the attempt to foretell the future by use of:

Astrology, horoscopes, numerology, crystal balls

Tarot cards, cartomancy (like Tarot but using regular playing cards)

Palm reading, phrenology (using the shape of the head)

Psychics, clairvoyants, fortune tellers

Throwing bones, reading animal entrails

Fortune telling using dice, dominoes, coconuts, snail shells, yarrow sticks

Tasseography (divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves, coffee grounds or wine sediments)


Divination was forbidden under Mosaic Law:

Lev 19:26b Do not practice divination or seek omens.

It was a sin of rebellion:

1 Sam 23:1 For rebellion is like the sin of divination…

It will cause God to abandon you:

Isa 1:6 You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans.

Divination was one of Manasseh’s sins which provoked God to anger (2 Kings 21:5-6) and it was one of the reasons that Israel was exiled (2 Kings 17:16-18)


Astrology is based on the assumption that the positions of the moon, sun, and stars affect human affairs and that one can foretell the future by studying the stars. 1

A horoscope is a diagram of the heavens, showing the relative position of planets and the signs of the zodiac, used for foretelling events in a person’s life or for advice for future behaviour based on such a diagram. 2

Can we predict the future other than what God has told us?

James 4:14a Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.

1 2 http://


Some leaders have resorted to occult practices for guidance. These include reading the entrails of animals, consulting psychics or astrologers.

Ezekiel 21:21 For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver.

The Nazis employed the services of Swiss astrologer, Karl Ernst Krafft, after he successfully predicted an assassination attempt on Hitler. 1

1 See https:// wiki/ Karl_Ernst_Krafft

Karl Ernst Krafft


MI5 were so concerned that, for a time, they hired the services of astrologer Louis De Wohl, possibly to second-guess what Krafft was advising the Nazis. In May 1941 De Wohl was sent on a propaganda mission to America to contribute to astrological magazines and newspapers which at the time were using articles by astrologers favourable to Germany. He later assisted in forging copies of Krafft’s magazine Zenit German and other astrological magazines dropped over Germany and ‘foretelling’ the destruction of U-boats. 1

1 SOURCE: https:// wiki/ Karl_Ernst_Krafft & https:// wiki/ Louis_de_Wohl

Louis De Wohl


Krafft was convinced that the prophecies of Nostradamus boded well for the Third Reich (clearly not true) and was set to work to decipher Nostradamus by Goebbels, who hoped to give it a pro-Nazi spin. Krafft may have influenced the timing of Hitler’s ill-fated invasion of the Soviet Union against the better judgement of his generals. He boasted to friends that he mentioned that the time for an attack on the USSR was some way off. 1 So Kraft was not consistently accurate.

When he wrote to a senior official predicting that British bombs would soon destroy the Propaganda ministry in Berlin (this happened), the letter was passed on to the Gestapo who viewed it as treasonous. He was incarcerated and later died en route to the Buchenwald concentration camp. 1

1 Ibid


A poll of 46 female university students in England conducted in 2000 found that 100% knew their star sign and 85% agreed that it fitted their personality. 70% read their horoscopes regularly with 15% saying that they would alter their behaviour due to material they read in horoscopes. 89% find out the star signs of people they have relationships with and 13% said they would consult an astrologer before getting married or settling down. 1

Sadly most major newspapers have a horoscope column.

But even more disturbing is that many Christians read their horoscopes. According to a Harris Poll in 2009, 21% of born-again Americans “believe” in astrology.

1 Articles/ Correl01.htm


How can the movement of planets have any bearing on your life or personality? What about babies born one or two months prematurely? Does their personality or destiny change depending on what day they came out of the womb?

Should we look to the stars for guidance - or should we consult the maker of the stars? The Bible tells us that counsel from astrologers will only wear you out:

Isaiah 47:13-14 All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. These are not coals for warmth; this is not a fire to sit by.


Fortune tellers supposedly predict or tell the future by means of instruments, dreams, telepathy, clairvoyance or visions received in a frenzied state of ecstasy.

Estimated 45,700 psychics/mediums in the US (2012). 1

99.99% believe in God. 1

87% believe in Jesus Christ as the “Saviour”. 1

How can someone claim to be a Christian and yet resort to the occult as well? Balaam practiced divination and invoked God’s name – and ultimately was punished by God.

Num 24:1 Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times…

1 http:// american federation of certified psychics and statistics.htm


The English word ‘medium’ has the concept of a channel, a go-between for communication between our world and the spirit world.

The channeller voluntarily enters a trance or altered state of consciousness which enables them to perceive spirit messages. These may manifest as a voice which is heard in the medium’s mind.

Some mediums enter into a trance state whereby the spirit takes direct control over the their voice, speaking through it in a distinct accent. Sometimes the channeller will have a vision whereby the spirit is seen in their consciousness.

Channellers claim that the messages received represent divine wisdom and truth, and have beneficial value for mankind.


Nostradamus (1503–66) enthusiasts have credited him with predicting the French Revolution, the atom bomb, the rise of Adolf Hitler, and the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. 1

Some Christians tried to use Nostradamus and prophecies by the Mayans to claim that Jesus was returning in 2012.

But the Mayans were pagans who practiced human sacrifice. Although Nostradamus’s parents were Jewish converts to Catholicism, he had strong leanings towards the occult. Are these the sources Christians should draw on?

1 SOURCE: nostradamus_prophecies.htm


Are the prophecies of Nostradamus reliable?

Nostradamus also supposedly predicted that World War III will start around 1994, and that Ted Kennedy would become President of the United States in 1984. Again, none of these predictions came true. 1 Furthermore, in 103 cases in which Nostradamus specifically mentions persons, dates or other falsifiable (i.e. testable) data, he was wrong 100 percent of the time... 1

It seems that the only prophecies of Nostradamus that ‘come true’ are discovered after the events take place - and this means that his followers are manipulating his predictions. 1 As such, his detractors have claimed that Nostradamus is “100% accurate at predicting events after they happen”.

1 SOURCE: Not Nostradamus Again!


Jeanne Dixon is famous for predicting the assassination of JFK. But her prophecies have failed 93% of the time! She predicted: The 3rd World War by 1954. The Vietnam War would end in 1966 - it ended in 1975. On Oct 19, 1968, she predicted that Jackie Kennedy would not marry - she married Onassis the next day. Fidel Castro would be expelled from Cuba in 1970. Russia would be the first nation to place a man on the Moon. 1 She also incorrectly predicted that the Beatles would die in a plane crash during their 1964 US tour. 2


Jeanne Dixon (1918-1997)


The Biblical test for a prophet is:

Deut 18:22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

Nostradamus and Dixon fail the above test hopelessly.

Ezek 13:3,6 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! ... Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, “The LORD declares,” when the LORD has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled.


89% of psychics/mediums in the US believe the Bible is the word of God. 1

Yet the Bible says, “You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes” (Lev 19:26b - ESV). Gal 5:19-20 lists sorcery as an act of the flesh and “those who practice magic arts” have no place in the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:15).

Deut 18:10-11 Let no one be found among you … who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.

1 http:// american federation of certified psychics and statistics.htm


The unknown prophet who rebuked Jeroboam, took bad advice from a fellow prophet who claimed to have got a message from an angel, but was lying. The unknown prophet lost his life as a result of listening to him (1 Kings 13).

So be careful who you take advice from. Not every one who claims to have heard from God is telling the truth. Remember Ahab’s false prophets who purported to bring advice from God, but it was bad advice which led to his death.


Just because it is attributed to God, it does not necessarily follow that it is of God.

Jer 14:14 “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.

Jer 13:3-7 Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! … Their visions are false and their divinations lie. They say, “The LORD declares,” when the LORD has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The LORD declares,” though I have not spoken?


So what is the source of the psychic ability?

It is not a “gift from God” as some claim. If it were, why would God forbid it?

According to the non-canonical book of Enoch (ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed by tradition to Enoch) the fallen angels called Watchers stand accused of revealing to mankind astrology, sorcery and enchantments.

The source is either demonic or trickery.

Let’s see what canonical Scripture has to say about the source of divination. An event in the ministry of Paul throws light on this.


Paul encounters A slave girl in Philippi who “predicted the future” and who “earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling” (Acts 16).


She even follows Paul and his companions around acknowledging them as “servants of the Most High God” (Acts 16:17).

These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.

In Acts 16:16 “a spirit of divination” is literally “a spirit of Python” in the Greek. It is rendered this way by the Berean Literal Bible, Darby Bible Translation and Young’s Literal Translation. The Jubilee Bible 2000 renders it “a Pythian spirit” while the Douay-Rheims translates it as “a pythonical spirit”.


Python was the fabled serpent, killed by Apollo near Delphi, probably related to Pytho, the old name of Delphi. The priestess who gave oracles at Delphi, was called the Pythia after him.








a spirit




of Python

The Pythia spoke with a foreign voice and divined the future. Alexander the Great and his father Philip II of Macedon consulted the oracle at Delphi for guidance on their military ventures. The oracle was also consulted by Romans - Cicero, Nero, Hadrian and Julian the Apostate.

Luke is identifying the demonic presence in the young girl with the legend of the pythian serpent at Delphi.

The usage of the term “spirit of Python” by Luke “seems to imply either that this was the way in which the people of Philippi spoke of the maiden, or else that he recognised in her phenomena identical with those of the priestesses of Delphi, the wild distortions, the shrill cries, the madness of an evil inspiration.” – Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers


In his gospel, Luke attributes a similar phenomena to demons:

Luke 4:41 Moreover, demons (daimonia) came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak…


But then (Acts 16:18-19) “Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit:”

In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!

When the spirit (or demon) left her, the girl immediately lost her ability to tell fortunes:

Acts 16:18 At that moment the spirit left her. When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas…

Remember the owners made money from her fortune-telling. If they “realized that their hope of making money was gone”, obviously she lost this ability when the demon left – which indicates that it was the source of her psychic ability.

So we see that the psychic ability comes not from man’s own power or a benevolent “spirit guide”, but a malevolent demon.

Because the source is demonic, you are dealing with lying spirits, who cannot be trusted for advice or guidance. Jesus says of Satan:

John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.


A demonic source implies spiritual deception. Remember what Micaiah prophesied to Ahab:

2 Kings 22:21-22 “Finally, a spirit came forward, stood


before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ ‘By what means?’ the LORD asked. ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.”

Because the source is demonic, there is limited knowledge:

Gen 41:8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.


No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. (Dan 2:26-28)

Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?

The same was true of the diviners in the Book of Daniel.

Even if prophecies are accurate, this still does not indicate that God is the source.

Deut 13:1-4 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.


How can a prophecy be accurate if God is not the source?

Satan and demons live in the spirit world and can be privy to “private” conversations and other events that humans are unaware of. Anthony the Great wrote:

Why should we be in awe when a demon merely observes someone beginning a journey, then speeds past them and announces their coming? Naturally they are capable of such a thing because they do not have bodies like man. Just as a horseman gets a head start on the man journeying by foot: he announces the arrival beforehand. There is no need for us to marvel at them. 1

1 Life of St. Anthony


Through manipulation of events – Satan has the power to manipulate (within the constraints God allows). Thus demons or Satan can “predict” an event and then cause it to happen.

Satan and demons can cause sickness:

Job 2:7 So Satan … afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.

Luke 13:11-16 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all… Then should not this woman… whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”


Satan can manipulate nature and the elements:

Job 1:19 a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house

Satan can cause death.

Job 1:19 It collapsed on them and they are dead…

He can also incite humans to kill.

1 Cor 2:8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Luke 22:3-4 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.


He can perform miracles:

Matt 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.

Ex 7:11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts:


Necromancy is the practice of attempting to communicate with the dead – by summoning their spirit typically at a séance – for the purpose of divination, imparting the means to foretell future events, to discover hidden knowledge or to ask advice.


Necromancy was forbidden under Mosaic Law:

Lev 20:27 A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.

Dabbling with mediums will defile you:

Lev 19:31 Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them.

It will cause God to cut you off:

Lev 20:6 “I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.”

One of Manasseh’s sins which provoked God to anger was that he “consulted mediums and spiritists” (2 Kings 21:5-6)


Do not attempt to contact the dead or the spirit world using mediums, séances, ouija board, glassy glassy, table tipping, automatic writing, pendulum, meditation, mirror scrying, digital recordings or a flashlight.

Isaiah 8:19 When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Isaiah 8:19 (World English Bible) When they tell you, “Consult with those who have familiar spirits and with the wizards, who chirp and who mutter:” shouldn't a people consult with their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?


Do people float around as ghosts after death?

Isaiah 26:14 They are now dead, they live no more; those departed spirits do not rise.

The Bible states that “the dead know nothing” (Eccl 9:5).

Why? After death – the judgment

Heb 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

Job 7:9-10 When a cloud vanishes, it is gone, So he who goes down to Sheol does not come up. He will not return again to his house, Nor will his place know him anymore. (NASB)


Much supposed channelling of dead people is also fraudulent.

Famous stage magician Harry Houdini had been extremely fond of his mother and anxious to contact her after her death. When Lady Jean, the wife of Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes books), offered to give Houdini a private séance to try and contact his mother, he was delighted and readily agreed. Claiming that Houdini’s mother had control of her hand, Lady Jean delivered a comforting message to Houdini written in perfect English.


Houdini and the Doyles

But Houdini later reluctantly issued a release that would cost him the friendship of the Doyle’s. He stated there was not the slightest evidence that his mother had “come through” Lady Jean. His mother could not read or write and could barely speak English. In addition, Lady Jean had started her automatic writing by scrawling a cross on the top of the paper. Being Jewish, his mother would have never have done this. He had felt no presence in the room and although it had been his mother’s birthday, there was no reference made to it. 1

Houdini did not think that the Doyle’s had deliberately tried to deceive him but had deceived themselves by their own gullibility. 1

1 SOURCE: doyle_houdini.html


Before Houdini died, he and his wife agreed that if Houdini found it possible to communicate after death, he would give the message “Rosabelle believe”, a secret code which they agreed to use. (Rosabelle was their favourite song.) Bess held yearly séances on Halloween for 10 years after Houdini’s death. 1

In 1936, after a last unsuccessful séance, she put out the candle that she had kept burning beside a photograph of Houdini since his death. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Harry_Houdini


Bess Houdini (1876-1943)

The Bible relates how Saul used a necromancer in order to communicate with the dead prophet Samuel.

1 Sam 28:3-7 (ESV) Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him… And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. The Philistines

assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. 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.

Seek me a woman who has a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. (WEB)

Behold, there is a woman who has a familiar spirit at Endor.

1 Chron 10:13-14 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the LORD.

Wasn’t this unfair? 1 Samuel tells us that when Saul inquired of the LORD, he never answered him. Why then do we find in 1 Chronicles that God caused him to die for going to a medium and not inquiring of the Lord?

1 Sam 28:6-7 He inquired [sha’al] of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him … Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire [darash] of her.”


The word sha’al is used of those who inquire of the Lord, including Saul in 1 Samuel. But Saul is condemned for not ‘darash-ing’, which is a much stronger word meaning to follow, search, or worship.

1 Chron 10:14 (Saul) did not inquire [darash] of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death…

Darash implies searching diligently or earnestly. The significance: Saul is condemned for his lack of diligence in seeking God’s counsel.

For Saul, God was a utility rather than the source of life and the object of worship. He seeks God only when he is in trouble. His lack of earnestness in seeking God is shown further in his willingness to consult a medium and get supernatural direction one way or the other.


Like Saul, do we only seek God earnestly in times of trouble? Does this sound like us?

Psalm 78:34-37 Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant.

Compare this to the earnestness of David seeking God. He is consumed with his search comparing it to a deep thirst.

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.


1 Sam 28:8-20 (WEB) Saul disguised himself, and put on other clothing, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night

Please divine to me by the familiar spirit, and bring me up whoever I shall name to you.

Behold, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off those who have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

As Yahweh lives, no punishment shall happen to you for this thing.

Comment: The medium is afraid that she is being set up in a government “sting” operation, but Saul reassures her.

Whom shall I bring up to you?

Bring Samuel up for me.

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice; and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!” (WEB)


Don’t be afraid. For what do you see?

The woman said to Saul, “I see a god (Heb: elohim) coming up out of the earth.” (WEB)

What does he look like?

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. (NIV)

“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.” (NIV)

Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?

Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has turned away from you and become your enemy? … The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.

Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and night. (NIV)

So, knowing that God condemned it, Saul still consulted with a necromancer.

Although we know her as the “witch of Endor”, in Biblical Hebrew she is not called a witch, but “a woman who has a familiar spirit”. In English translations passages like Lev 19:31, 20:6, 27 and Deut 18:9-14 use terms like spiritist, medium or necromancer, but the Hebrew is also “those who have familiar spirits”. The familiar spirit would be what some call a spirit guide, but Christians would call a demon.

The Septuagint rendering makes it clearer that her powers were due to a divining spirit in her.

1 Sam 28:8 (Septuagint) And Saul … said to her, Divine to me, I pray thee, by the divining spirit within thee, and bring up to me him whom I shall name to thee.


Did the medium really succeed in calling up Samuel? If so, does this mean that you can actually contact your departed loved ones after they die by using a necromancer?

Some have concluded that the medium was a fraud who tricked Saul into thinking that he saw Samuel.

Yet the medium herself seems surprised by Samuel's appearance and it’s unlikely that this would have happened if it were a contrived trick. It appears that something happened that she was not expecting, based on her normal practice.

She only realises that it is Saul who is consulting her after seeing the apparition. So either the familiar spirit or Samuel revealed this to her. How was she made aware of Saul’s identity if this was a hoax on her part?


Many of the early church fathers 1 held the view that a demon impersonated Samuel and appeared to Saul.

Demons might have been privy to, or even inspired, the time of the Philistines attack the next day. Their numbers made it likely that Israel would be defeated especially since it was clear that Saul was out of favour with God. Thus perhaps it was not so much a prophecy, but natural conjecture as to the probable result of the approaching conflict. Besides clearly demoralising Saul, possibly the demon was trying to convince him of his certain death, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy – his death by suicide, rather than at the hands of his enemies.

1 Hippolytus (Fragments, On Kings), Tertullian (On the Soul), Jerome (Commentary on Matthew), Augustine (On Christian Doctrine), Basil the Great (Commentary on Isaiah), Gregory of Nyssa (On the Sorceress), Ephrem the Syrian (Commentary on Samuel), Evagrius the Solitary (Cephaleia Gnostica)

John Chrysostom (Homily VI on Matthew) believed the spirit of Samuel was a demonic impersonation, but differs with the others in that he believes the demon was speaking under the command of God.


Hippolytus of Rome writes:

Just as a physician who has no exact knowledge of the science might yet, seeing a patient past cure, tell of his death (though he made an error as to the hour). So too the demon, knowing the wrath of God by Saul’s deeds and by this very attempt to consult the sorceress, foretells his defeat and his death at the same time (though in error as to the day of his death). 1

Note that Saul did not actually see anything himself, he had to ask the woman who it was that she saw (1 Sam 28:14). Based on what she said, he presumed it was Samuel he was communicating with. Saul was putting his trust completely in a necromancer, and the conversation was not between Saul and Samuel, but between Saul and a demon.

1 Fragments, On Kings


The view of a few early Church Fathers 1 and the traditional rabbinical view is that this was a genuine appearance of Samuel, allowed by God himself. There are at least 4 arguments that favour this view:

The text simply refers to the figure as Samuel. 2 The intent of the writer seems to be for the reader to understand that Samuel actually appeared to Saul.

The message that Samuel spoke was clearly from God. He reminded Saul that the kingdom had been taken from him and predicted Israel’s defeat and the deaths of Saul and his sons at the hands of the Philistines.

1 Justin Martyr (Dialogue with Trypho), Origen (Homily on 1 Kingdoms), Ambrose (Commentary on Luke). 2 1 Sam 28:12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out… 1 Sam 28:15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” 1 Sam 28:16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now…”


The earliest Greek translation of the OT, the Septuagint, differs slightly from the Masoretic text in rendering 1 Chron 10:13 as:

So Saul died for his transgressions… because Saul enquired of a wizard to seek counsel, and Samuel the prophet answered him

The writer of the apocryphal Book of Sirach also takes this view:

Sirach 46:20 (CEB) Samuel prophesied after he had fallen asleep, and he showed the king what his end would be. He made his voice heard from the ground in prophecy to wipe out the people’s lawless behaviour.


The medium was startled (1 Sam 28:12), indicating that something happened that she was not expecting. Why would she be surprised at the appearance of Samuel, if she intended to call him up. Normally when consulting a medium, they are channelling their familiar spirit, which is a demon who impersonates the dead person (hence the surprise of the woman at what happened – it was contrary to her usual experience in these matters and she got more than she bargained for).

“The indications are that this was an extraordinary event for her, and a frightening one because she was not in control.” (Baldwin)

So it’s possible that what happened here was exceptional and that Samuel really did appear as a special allowance by God to pronounce judgement on Saul.


How do you know if a spirit is from God?

1 John 4:1-3 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God …

Satan (and other demons) can appear as an “angel of light”.

1 Cor 11:13-14 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.



Here is an example of spiritual deception related on the website:

About 20 years ago, one of my cousins who I’ll call Mary (not her real name), told me about some strange events that had been occurring in her life. She said that a beautiful woman in a long flowing white gown had been appearing to her. It was happening while she was awake and she was actually seeing and talking to her. She had come to believe that she was a ‘good’ spirit because of her friendly demeanour, and because of ‘good’ things that had happened that seemed somehow connected with this spirit. She shared this story with me as an example. Mary was spending the night at a friend’s house. Suddenly, in the middle of the night at about 3:00 AM, both she and her friend woke up from a vivid dream. They looked at each other and somehow knew they had probably had the same dream. Mary told her friend not to say anything, but to write down what she had just dreamed, then they would compare notes. It turned out that they in fact had had the same dream. Both of them dreamed that a woman driving a station wagon had crashed her car … and that she was seriously injured and dying. Her friend recognized the location as a remote one about 3-blocks away. They got dressed and ran to the location. Sure enough, they found a woman unconscious in a crashed station wagon seriously injured. They called the police and the woman got medical help because of their intervention. One reason why deceptions like this occur is so that the victims will become trusting and eventually dependent upon these spirits, and in some cases those who channel them. As long as they’re obsessed with these spiritual “experiences”, they typically feel little or no need to be dependent upon God the way God tells them they should be in the Bible. In other words, demons wean people away from a strong, close personal relationship with Jesus Christ, or try to prevent it from happening to begin with by overwhelming their victims with ‘experiences’ that seem so real, and in some cases very comforting. Incidents like the one described above started happening in Mary’s life only after her the appearances of the beautiful woman began. I asked a few questions about this:

Had she ever read the Bible to see what it had to say about familiar spirits, talking to the dead, or channelling spirits of any kind?

Was she aware of God’s warnings about how to test the spirits to see if they are of God or not?

Her answer to both questions was ‘no’… I told her that based on what the Bible has to say about such matters that I was almost certain she was being deceived by a demon. She seemed shocked and surprised because the spirit gave no obvious signs she could see of it being evil… I encouraged her to read up on the Bible verses that talk about communicating with the dead and other spirits, then to test this spirit the way the Bible says to the next time it appeared to her. She did both, then called me later to tell me what happened. When the woman appeared to her again, she tested it by asking it a few important questions. Finally, the spirit showed its true colours. The ‘skin’ on its face melted off into a grotesque figure. The last thing Mary saw was its skeletal hand disappearing into thin air. She never saw the spirit again. She was stunned that she could have been so thoroughly deceived. 1

1 spirits.html

In Ephesus, Paul was used by God to deliver demon possessed people. Then the following happened:

Acts 19:13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon- possessed. Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.

In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.

One day the evil spirit answered them:

Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?

Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honour. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.



These were professing Christians, yet they had kept their occult paraphernalia, possibly because of the value, or because they had not fully relinquished their beliefs.

Now they burnt their scrolls on sorcery.

They did this despite the fact that they were valuable (i.e. they did not sell them or give them away).

The decision to do this was after the event with Sceva’s sons being assaulted by a demon-possessed man – i.e. they saw the link between demons and the practice of sorcery.

The cause of God’s kingdom was advanced greatly.


So what should you do if you have occult paraphernalia? Don’t keep it, sell it or give it away - burn it!

We believe that God has given a natural protection against demonic influence. But you lose that protection when you dabble in the occult (consult mediums or horoscopes, astral travel, hypnosis, Eastern meditation, yoga) or keep occult paraphernalia (e.g. Ouija board, tarot cards, books, movies).

This includes statues of pagan deities – the entity behind the idol is a demon:

1 Cor 10:19-20 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.


We need to seek guidance and advice from God, who is “wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom” (Isa 28:29). He has promised us:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you (Ps 32:8).

…the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in (Prov 3:12).

In Isaiah 9:6 Jesus is called the “Wonderful Counsellor” and in Isaiah 11:2 it says of him, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”

But how does God speak to us?



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Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations taken from the NIV:

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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