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Nothing New to Say

Nothing New to Say

by Josh Caudill

This weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Texas to see a good friend preach at his church. I was grateful for the opportunity to see him, and I think he was grateful to have a few extra friendly faces in the congregation of his church; his church has been studying through the book of 1 Samuel, and, as chance would have it, he ended up with something of a difficult passage.

Amidst an already complex story of Saul's rejection as Israel's king and David's struggle to take the throne, we come across two stories at the end of 1 Samuel. David, the king we all love to love, flees Israel and joins the ranks of the enemies--the Philistines. He hides among them, not in a cunning, subversive ploy to overtake them, but out of fear. He even swears to Achish that he will join the army in their attack on Israel, his own people--the people he is called to lead.

Simultaneously, Saul presents us with a different sort of frustration. Confounded at his inability to track down and eliminate the threat that is David, he consults a medium, begging her to raise Samuel from the dead to offer advice. And, much to the reader's surprise, the medium actually does it.

David, swearing to eliminate the people of Israel. Saul, successfully consulting with the dead. These are impossible things. And yet here they are, recorded in this book which we revere as the breathed Word of God. To what end?

I look to Samuel's words to Saul in his visit with the medium:

"Why then do you ask me? ...The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me". -1 Samuel 28:16-17

At the time of God's rejection of Saul, Samuel proclaims to Saul that his time as ruler of Israel is over. So when Saul consults him now, he tells him, quite simply, "I have nothing new to say to you."

This passage is confusing, but I wonder if these words are the answer to some of the questions I want to ask about it. I want to express frustration because David, the man after God's own heart, should know better. I want to express confusion because mediums should not be able to raise Samuel from the dead successfully.

But maybe God's word to me is that I shouldn't be surprised. In the end, truth prevails; I know that the hearts of all mankind are prone to wander, so why am I surprised when David strays? I know that the commands of the Lord are not arbitrary, but are to protect me from very real evils in the world, so why should I be surprised at this story of Saul's communion with the dead? After all, the event marks Saul's last day before his death.

Saul and David had both heard the words of Samuel, the prophet of God. But they both succumbed to fear, pride, and sin, rather than trusting and obeying the word of God.

I think that is enough of a task for me for the week. I still have questions about this passage--that is certain. But first, let me assess my life. I know the word of God, but I do not always obey. I stray, and I procrastinate, and I make excuses.

God shows grace to us all--even to David, and even to me--but may the examples here serve as guides for me to trust in God's word as my guiding light.

Grace & Peace
Josh Caudill