Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 28

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

Israel. God made use of the ill-will of the Philistines to punish Saul, and to make way for David to the throne. (Salien) --- Each of the five lords brought their armies into the field, where they were united. Achis, placing the greatest confidence in David, requires his attendance. (Calmet)

Verse 2

Do; or "can do." Thou wilt be convinced of my valour and fidelity. (Haydock) --- But could David lawfully fight against his brethren? or could he desert Achis in the heat of the engagement? His answer is ambiguous. (Calmet) --- He prudently committed his cause into the hands of Providence, resolved to do nothing contrary to his duty, and to abide by God’s decision, in this critical juncture, so that Cajetan blames him unjustly. (Salien; Menochius; Tirinus) --- Guard. Septuagint, "captain of my body guard."

Verse 3

Samuel. His death is here recorded, as well as the abolition of magic, to explain what follows, when Saul, not being able to obtain an answer from God, as his prophet had been withdrawn in anger, had recourse to the devil. (Haydock) --- Land, while he reigned virtuously, (Menochius) according to the law, Leviticus xix 31., and Deuteronomy xviii. 11.

Verse 4

Gelboe. So that he occupied the parts south of the vale of Jezrahel, while the Philistines were encamped on the north, in the tribe of Issachar. (Menochius)

Verse 5

Dismayed. It was so numerous, while his own conscience upbraided him with being at enmity with God, who increased his fears. (Salien)

Verse 6

Dreams. During which God often revealed his will. See Deuteronomy xiii. 3. --- Priests. Hebrew, "nor by Urim." It seems Saul had appointed some priests, and had fabricated a fresh ephod, with the Urim, &c., after the departure of Abiathar. (Calmet) --- But Salien calls this in question, and there might neither be priests nor prophets for Saul to consult. (Haydock) --- God despised a man, who had slain so many of his sacred ministers. (Menochius)

Verse 7

Spirit. Hebrew, "an ob," or vessel distended, as such impostors seemed to swell at the presence of the spirit. Septuagint, "a belly talker." They endeavour to speak from that part. We read of some who, without magic, have possessed the art in great perfection, so as to deceive the company, and make them think that some one was calling them from a great distance; as was the case with one Farming in England, 1645. (Dickenson, c. 9.) --- Brodeus mentions that the valet of Francis I could thus counterfeit the speech of people deceased, and by these means prevailed upon a rich woman to marry him, and a banker of Lyons to give him a large sum of money. James Rodoginus, a possessed person in Italy, 1513, could make articulate sounds from the hollow of his belly, when his lips and nostrils were closed up. The oracles of idols were generally given in a low tone, as if they proceeded from the earth. Submissi petimus terram & vox fertur ad aures. (Virgil) --- Those of Apollo were the most famous, and hence a divining spirit is called a Python. Saul must have been stupidly blind, thus to depend on what he had formerly banished with such care. (Calmet) --- He flattered himself that some would still be left, especially among the women, who are most addicted to superstition, as well as to religion. (Menochius) --- Endor was distant from Gelboe about four hours’ walk. (Adrichomius) --- But Saul made a long circuit to avoid the enemy. (Salien, v. 20.)

Verse 8

Clothes, that he might not fill the woman or his army with dismay. (Calmet)

Verse 10

Thing. He adds this crime of swearing unjustly, to all the rest. (Saline[Salien?])

Verse 11

Samuel. Here we behold the antiquity of necromancy, which is a proof that people believed the soul’s immortality; animas responsa daturas. (Horace, i. sat. 8.) (Calmet) --- Protestants sometimes deny (Haydock) that souls appear again, contrary to this history and Matthew xvii. (St. Augustine) (Worthington)

Verse 12


Woman. The Rabbins pretend that she was Abner’s mother, (Calmet) which is extremely improbable, as he was of the tribe of Benjamin, and a man of such renown. (Salien) --- Theodoret follows their opinion, in supposing that the woman was startled, because Samuel appeared in a standing posture, and not with his feet upwards, or lying down on his back, as in a coffin, which they say (Calmet) is the usual manner of spirits appearing to people of her character. (Bellarmine, Purgat. ii. 6.) --- She cried out, because he appeared before she had begun her incantations, and was arrayed like a priest, according to Josephus, (Haydock) in great majesty, or she pretended to see him, the better to impose upon the king; for some think that all was a delusion. (Calmet) --- Saul. This she learnt either from Samuel, (Josephus) or from her familiar spirit. (Menochius)

Verse 13

Gods, or one venerable and divine personage. (Worthington) --- Elohim, is applied to Samuel for greater honour. It is a title given to the true God, to idols, and people in dignity. (Calmet)

Verse 14

Understood that it was Samuel. It is the more common opinion of the holy fathers, and interpreters, that the soul of Samuel appeared indeed; and not, as some have imagined, an evil spirit in his shape. Not that the power of her magic could bring him thither, but that God was pleased for the punishment of Saul, that Samuel himself should denounce unto him the evils that were falling upon him. See Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 23. (Challoner) --- The passage is decisive; (Tirinus) he slept and he made know to the king, and shewed him the end of his life, and he lifted up his voice from the earth, in prophecy, &c. Those who have called in question the reality of Samuel’s apparition, seem not to have remembered this passage. (Haydock) --- Yet his soul was not united to his body, (Salien) nor was he adduced by the power of the devil, but (Du Hamel) by a just judgment of God, to denounce destruction to the wicked king. (St. Augustine, &c.) (Tirinus) --- The woman, beholding Samuel, fled out of the place, to Saul’s companions, and left him alone with the king, ver. 21. --- Adored Samuel with an inferior honour, as a friend of God, exalted in glory. (Salien) --- That Samuel really appeared, is the more common opinion of the fathers. (St. Augustine, Cura. xv.) (Worthington)

Verse 15

Up. To inform a person of something very terrible, is distressing; and though the saints deceased cannot partake in the afflictions of mortals, yet we read that "the angels of peace will weep, but they will approve of the just sentence of the judge" against the reprobate. (Haydock) --- The Scripture language conforms itself to the opinions of the people, who thought that such avocations disturbed the soul’s repose. Hence the fathers at [the Synod of] Elvira (Canon xxxi.) forbid "the lighting of wax candles in church-yards during the day, for the spirits of the saints are not to be disquieted." Isaias (xiv. 9,) represents hell all in commotion, at the approach of the king of Babylon. These expressions are figurative. (Calmet) --- God does not encourage magical arts, on this occasion, but rather prevents their operation, as he did, when Balaam would have used some superstitious practices, Numbers xxiv. (Du Hamel)

Verse 16

Rival. How vain is it to expect that a prophet can give an answer when the Lord is silent! Hebrew, "is become thy enemy." (Haydock)

Verse 17

To thee. Hebrew, "to him." This was only a repetition of what Samuel had before denounced, chap. xv. 28. If the evil spirit spoke this, he was not guilty of falsehood, nor more than [in] Matthew viii. 29. (Calmet) --- But would he dare so often to repeat the name of the Lord? (Haydock) --- Could he know what would happen to Saul, &c., the next day? (Worthington)

Verse 19

To-morrow. Usher supposes some days afterwards. But all might take place the day after this was spoken. (Calmet) --- Sons, except Isboseth, who enjoyed, for a time, part of his father’s kingdom. (Haydock) --- With me. That is, in the state of the dead, and in another world, though not in the same place. (Challoner) --- Saul was guilty of suicide, so that he could not be with Samuel in happiness, (chap. xxxi. 4. Tirinus) though he was in the other world. (Worthington) --- See St. Augustine, ad Simp. ii. 3.; Cura pro mort. c. xv.; St. Justin Martyr, Dial.; Origen, &c.

Verse 20

Day, through excessive anguish. (Haydock) --- He fainted away; upon which his attendants and the woman rushed in. (Salien)

Verse 21

Hand, in the most imminent danger. See Judges xii. 3.

Verse 24

Calf, destined for a victim or feast, Luke xv. 23., and Proverbs xv. 17. (Calmet) --- The generosity of this woman deserves commendation. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] vi. 15.) (Haydock)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.