Did Samuel Come Back From the Dead?

Saul and the Witch of Endor

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 28:11-14

This appearance of Samuel in 1 Samuel 28:7-20 has created a great deal of discussion among Bible scholars and has produced a number of viewpoints with regard to the precise nature of this event.

Did God Bring Samuel Back?

Dr. H. L. Willmington states in Willmington’s Guide to the Bible (page 107) that the most popular view and that which is maintained by most orthodox commentators is that this was a genuine appearance of Samuel brought about by God Himself. Samuel’s statement to Saul in verse 15 should not be regarded as a proof of the fact that the witch of Endor or Saul brought Samuel back from the dead. This unusual act on the part of God was certainly designed to emphasize the doom of Saul and God’s displeasure for his coming to a necromancer (one which conjures up the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future).

Robert Jamieson suggest three additional reasons for this unusual act on God’s part. They are (1) to make Saul’s crime an instrument of his punishment; (2) to show the heathen world God’s superiority in prophecy, and (3) to confirm a belief in a future state after death.

Two other men who made an appearance on the earth after death were Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:3; Luke 9:30, 31). They however, appeared “in glory,” Samuel appeared in the mantle which he had worn while on earth. Therefore, in a real sense the appearance of Samuel after death was a completely unique event. (The Birth of a Kingdom, John J. Davis, pp. 96-99).

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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