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Was Samuel Really Conjured Up?

Q: In 1 Samuel 28:8-18, Saul asks the witch of Endor to conjure up the prophet Samuel. When she does, Samuel appears and tells Saul that he will lose a battle against the Philistines the following day. Did Samuel really appear?

A: Both Saul and the author of 1 Samuel certainly thought that it was Samuel speaking. The biblical warning against fortune tellers and mediums challenges the belief that they can foretell what will certainly happen—not what happens as a result of human decisions. It’s a short step from such an idea to believing that people can control God. That is not possible.

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