A long time ago in a far away land there was a king. He ruled absolutely. His word trumped that of God Himself. He was tall, strong, and charismatic. But as his life neared it’s end, he began to go through a very dark time. His spirits fell. Suspicion and fear compelled him to act irrationally and recklessly.
Some even say he had an evil spirit possess his soul.
Then one day all his enemies gathered their forces, determined to exact vengeance on this king for all the pain and suffering he had caused them. It was an army bent on destruction with one objective – kill this king.
On the eve of battle, the king and his entourage saw the enemy hordes marching to war. In former years this king would have been confident. He would have craved the opportunity to drive his opponents back once and for all. But these were darker times. His own soul had turned against him and against his God. His most trusted adviser, a wise old prophet, had recently died. The king had no one else he trusted enough to consult in this matter. His own madness would be the demise of his entire kingdom.
But then the evil spirit inside of him planted an idea in his mind. The prophet may be dead in body but not in spirit. There was a witch, a medium, a sorceress – call her what you will. She had the power to communicate with the dead.
The king and his men hurried to the old witch’s house. Smoke billowed from the chimney. The stink of death and putrescence filled the air.
To conceal his identity, the king had put on a disguise. Looking like just an ordinary commoner, the king stepped up to the eerie abode. Knock Knock Knock
The door creaked open just slightly. “Who’s there? What do you want?” inquired a raspy, aged voice from just inside the door.
“I wish to summon the spirit of a departed loved one, if you please,” replied the king, in a deeper, unfamiliar voice.
“Ha! Don’t you know the king himself banned me and all my sisters from the kingdom?! Why should I help you?” the witch responded suspiciously. “You’re probably just trying to trap me so you can through me in the king’s dungeon.”
“You will face no such punishment. I swear to God Almighty,” ensured the king.
The door slammed shut. The king was taken aback, but he could hear the sounds of chains and latches being unfastened. Again, the door opened inward against the complaint of tired hinges. Stooping down, the king entered after the witch. The one room house was small and untidy to the eye of a guest. Jars and containers strewn about on the shelves, cobwebs building in the corners, scrolls stuffed onto their racks, and a thin layer of dust lying throughout like fresh laid snow.
The witch sat down at the head of the large table in the center of the room – the largest piece of furniture in the place. She pulled the fine cloth away from a large, rounded glass object. The door shut behind the king and his men without the help of human or crosswind. The king pulled out a chair and sat down to the left of the witch. The other men remained standing.
“Whom shall I summon for you?” asked the witch when all was ready.
Hesitating, the king answered, “Samuel, the prophet.”
The witch began her incantation and her hand motions, when suddenly the whole house shook. The witch screamed the cry of death and shot backwards from her chair. She had seen the ghost of Samuel coming to her from the great beyond. Out of the darkness he came with the fury of God in his eyes. It was then the witch knew who really joined her at the table.
“Why have you deceived me?” she cried. “I know who you are! You’re the King.”
“Do not fear,” said the king in his stern, commanding voice. “Tell me what you see.”
The woman, trembling, slowly regained her place at the table. Looking again, she answered, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.”
“What does he look like?” questioned the king.
“He’s an old man,” said the witch, looking ever more deeply. “And he’s wearing a robe.”
Fear, excitement, and shame collided within the king. He fell to the ground, shoving his chair against the wall with a bang. Shaking violently, the king dropped his head all the way to the dusty floor.
Weak and frightened, the king replied, “I’m greatly distressed. These are dark times. My enemies have marched their armies against me for war, and God has abandoned me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or dreams. So I summoned you to tell me what to do.”
The ghostly voice boomed in reply, “Why do you consult me now that the Lord has left you and turned against you? The Lord has done just as he foretold through me while I was with you! He has torn the kingdom from your grip and had given it to your neighbors – to the shepherd boy. The Lord has done this because you refused to obey him, and you failed to carry out his wrath on your enemies. You are weak. You are frail. You are no KING!
“The armies of your enemies will be victorious. Your armies will fail. Your men will turn and flee. Your cities will be captured. And hear me – tomorrow, you and your sons will die.”
At this the king lost all control. Fear gripped him.
The witch rushed over to him, bringing him some concoction she had been boiling. “Your majesty, I’ve only done what you asked. I put my life in your hands. Now please, take this and regain your strength.”
But the king refused to eat or drink anything at first. Finally able to stand, the king rose and reclined on the couch. After some urging from the witch and his own men, the king agreed to dine before departing.
The witch at once went out and butchered a calf. Coming back in with blood stained robes, she baked some bread. That night the king and his men dined with the witch – the last meal the king would ever enjoy.
The next day, in the throes of battle, all happened as the ghost had foretold. The enemy hordes broke the king’s lines. The battle broke into chaos. In the heat of it all, the king looked down in time to see his son slain by the arrows of the enemy archers. Gripped with fear and uncontrollable anxiety, the king turned his own sword around and fell onto the blade.
Witchcraft, ghosts, death, and suicide. This is what became of the first king of Israel.