Sorry, can't help it. Just heard Beckett saying the line to Castle on TNT's repeat of an old episode.
Okay, I said I was going to take a sabbatical. I have caught up a lot of work. And at the same time, I am getting . . . bored. lonely. depressed. hungry.
Time to get back into the bread of God! And hope that focusing on what's important helps my spirits.
Today's scripture really is an honest-to-goodness ghost story. The kind of thing that makes it difficult to explain away mediums as the blind leading the misguided.
And "wiccan" may have very real powers.
Yes, I've come to the witch of endor.
Samuel had died and God had abandoned Saul. The king was desperate, so he sought one of a breed he had hounded to oblivion years before. A witch.
I find her dance of evasion interesting. "If the king finds out. All right, all right, I'll do it." I wonder how much money changed hands.
Have any of you read Liz Curtis Higgs' retelling of of the witch's tale? I believe it's in Really Bad Girls of the Bible.
I'm not sure who was more surprised, the witch or Saul - or, for that matter, Samuel.
Things unravelled pretty quickly:
The witch recognized Saul as king and was terrified. The image of "an old man, robed like a priest" terrified her more. Saul worshipped--Samuel? God? "Why have you disturbed me?" Samuel demands. To keep hounding the man after he's dead . . .
Saul's question hadn't changed. "Tell me what to do!" Samuel basically said you made your bed by disobeying God, now you'll lie in it. Saul was so frightened that he fell into a comatose state. The witch showed a shred of sanity by getting him something to eat. He revived and left.
A genuine, bonafide ghost story, featuring Samuel as the ghost and the ghosthunter who was a poor excuse of a man, let alone a king.
I don't even know where to begin with this one.
Who did Saul see? I have no doubt he actually saw Samuel.
What did Saul see? This is a trickier question. In the New Testament, Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration--easily identified by the three disciples who were born centuries after both men. If probed, I would guess that their bodies were like Jesus' post-Resurrection body, like ours will one day be, immortal and no longer bound by the same physical laws as our bodies.
When . . . no real "when"questions jump to my mind.
Where did Samuel come from? It says he ascended from underground. Descriptions like this, plus "the pit," must be why we talk about hell "down there" and heaven as "up there." Ephesians 4 talks about Jesus' descent during the days of His death. The Apostles' Creed echoes that with its wording, "He descended into hell." A better wording is hades, a holding place for the dead before the death and resurrection of Christ. This idea, however, fights against the idea of immortal, recognizable bodies that Moses, Elijah, and Samuel appear to have.
Why did Saul think he needed a dead Samuel's help? Your answer is as good as mine.
This passage leaves me with far more questions than answers and a lot of uncertainties. With all its claims for connecting with the earth, wiccans here are clearly demonstrated to be in touch with the occult, dangerous practices, meddling in matters of life and death that belong to God alone.
Real or faked (and I believe there are people with real ability), the occult is strictly forbidden to Christians. There are Christians with some measure of psychical power. y mother was one of them, chosen for a study, until she became a Christian and turned her back on it. I'm not sure if in others, it becomes a gifting for discernment or how that works . . .
The "ghosts," or recognizable people from the past, we read about in the Bible, are all believers. They don't fit the image of people with unfinished business.
The ghosts we read about appear before Jesus' resurrection. Perhaps believers no longer can return. "absent from the body" means we are "present with the Lord." After death, we don't linger in hades (is hades the same kind of thing as purgatory?) but zoom straight to our Lord's side.
What does this mean for me today? Saul worshipped the wrong thing, a dead priest/prophet. God is the God of the living--He is and always will be the first One I should turn to. Even when I've sinned, as Saul had. (David was no saint but he knew where to go with his burdens.)
Oh, and as a final thought . . . . don't take this blog as a condemnation of Harry Potter and his kind.