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occultic crystal ball April 24 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 1Samuel 28:3-25; 1Samuel 30

God or the Occult?

Some people read and follow horoscopes to lead them in their daily lives and decisions. Are horoscopes reliable? Should we read them and follow them? No; horoscopes are an introduction into the world of the mystics and the occult. God is not pleased with us when we rely on these things instead of relying on him. Why do we do it? Besides natural curiosity, some of us are not in tune with God and his Word, the Bible. In times of stress then, many turn to tarot cards, ouija boards, séances, and horoscopes. All these, however, can be tools of Satan and can lead us to defeat or disaster.

At this time in Jewish history King Saul faces the Philistine army and is afraid. How does he face his trials of extreme stress? Because the prophet Samuel has died and the LORD is no longer listening to Saul, he entreats a witch to conjure up the old prophet. This shows us how far the king has fallen in God's grace. Now Saul is in a fox-hole, so to speak, facing a battle with great fear, looking for help from any source, even from a medium. He himself, in better spiritual times, had recognized the wickedness of witchcraft and banned it from the land. At this time, however, Saul is not on good terms with God, and the LORD will not answer him. Saul does not repent, and he does not humble himself. He seeks the LORD in his pride. But God rejects the proud and exalts the humble and obedient.

The prophet Samuel's spirit is called up from the paradise part of Hades (much to the surprise of the witch), and Saul is told that he and his sons (including Jonathan) will soon die in the battle with the Philistines and join him. How will we seek God's help in our times of affliction? Will we be like Saul or David?

David is also a man under a lot of stress. Because of Saul’s hot pursuit, he seeks refuge for himself, his family, his army and their families in Philistine territory. He feigns loyalty to King Achish, and he is so convincing that the king wants David’s army to fight alongside the Philistine army against Israel. To do this would mean he would fight against his own people, King Saul, and David’s beloved friend, Jonathan. David is caught between a rock and a hard place. He wants to appear loyal, but he does not want to fight against his own people. Fortunately, God solves the problem for him. The Philistine generals are afraid David and his men might change sides during the conflict and lop off some Philistine heads to re-gain favor with King Saul, so Achish reluctantly sends David and his army back home to Ziklag.

When David and his men near Ziklag, however, they see the town has been burned, looted, and all their families have been taken captive. “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God” (1Samuel 30:6, NIV).

David does not consult with a witch as Saul has done. He consults with God through his ordained priest and the approved instruments of the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, edited by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, p. 152, the words Urim and Thummim mean “Lights and Perfections.” These two special stones were helpful in understanding God’s will when there was uncertainty. The stones were in the pocket of the Ephod (breast plate) that the priests wore to determine the will of the LORD. We have no such devices today; we have the completed Word of God to give us direction under the guidance of his Holy Spirit (2Timothy 3:16-17).

God tells David to pursue the raiders of their town because they will certainly overtake them, kill them, and recover everything they have lost, including their families. Along the way, 200 hundred of David’s 600 men are too exhausted to continue the pursuit, so David assigns them to guard their supplies until they return. When David and his 400 men approached the Amalekite raiding party,

David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, "This is David's plunder." (1Samuel 30:17-20, NIV)

After David plunders those who plundered them, he shares some of the booty with the 200 men who stayed with their supplies, and he astutely shares some with the leaders of towns in the tribe of Judah, where he will soon begin his reign. God gives victory and blessings to those who rely upon him.

Lessons to Live by

  • God rejects the proud and exalts the humble.
  • Consult the LORD, not witchcraft or other vices of the occult. He is the Almighty God of the universe who cares for you. He can give you the answers to your deepest needs (more...)
  • The completed Word of God gives us direction under the guidance of his Holy Spirit.
  • God gives victory and blessings to those who rely upon him.

Focus Verse

2Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

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A Look Ahead: Saul fails and loses his life because he doesn't Tend [his] Spiritual Garden. David, however, sets a different example. Learn more in our Next Lesson.

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