In the story of the Witch of Endor, was her vision of Samuel from God or from a demon?
As Pastor Armstrong explained in his teaching from 1 Samuel 28, the Witch of Endor reacted with surprise, indicating this was not her normal experience. Since we assume she had experience dealing with demons in the past, it would suggest this time was different – indicating it was not demonic activity.
More importantly, the text says plainly that this was, in fact, Samuel:
1Sam. 28:11 Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”
1Sam. 28:12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul.”
1Sam. 28:13 The king said to her, “Do not be afraid; but what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being coming up out of the earth.”
1Sam. 28:14 He said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage.
1Sam. 28:15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am greatly distressed; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and no longer answers me, either through prophets or by dreams; therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.”
1Sam. 28:16 Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary?
1Sam. 28:17 “The LORD has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David.
1Sam. 28:18 “As you did not obey the LORD and did not execute His fierce wrath on Amalek, so the LORD has done this thing to you this day.
1Sam. 28:19 “Moreover the LORD will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the LORD will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!”
We would not expect the text to refer to this vision as “Samuel” if it were a demon. Rather, we would expect the text to tell us that Saul was being deceived. Instead, the text says repeatedly that this vision was Samuel, and the vision spoke as Samuel relating things that only Samuel knew. Moreover, Samuel told Saul things of the future that were under God’s control, not under demonic control.
Therefore, all available evidence indicates the vision was truly of Samuel, which is something the Lord has power to do.