Not Samuel the prophet
The story of the Witch of Endor is found in 1 Samuel chapter 28. The Bible is clear that what appeared to King Saul was not really the ghost of Samuel raised from the death but rather the spirit of a demon.
Prior to this story, we learned that “Saul inquired of the Lord,” but “the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets” (1 Samuel 28:6). Because of Saul’s continued disobedience and evil conduct, the Lord refused to communicate with him through any means, including His prophets. Even if Samuel was alive, he would have had nothing to tell King Saul. So, in desperation, Saul decided to seek the council of the witch of Endor.
The ghost – demon
The “Samuel” ghost conjured up by the witch of Endor was a demonic spirit appearing as God’s prophet. Paul explained that demons can actually appear as angels of light: “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). The demon posing as Samuel was able to depress Saul to the point where Saul was no longer able to stand up (1 Samuel 28:20). That demon gave a message of utter hopelessness, typical of evil angels, which led Saul to suicide the next day.
God forbids contact with demons through mediums
God abhors demonic powers that are contacted through the mediums and wizards (Deuteronomy 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 8:19; 19:3). He clearly warned His people against contacting them, “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:31). And to save His children from their deceptions, He commanded in the OT that wizards, witches and others with “familiar spirits” (who claimed to be able to contact the dead) should be put to death (Leviticus 20:27).
What happens at death?
The entity that appeared to Saul was not the ghost of Samuel because the Bible clearly teaches that the dead are in a state of unconsciousness till the Resurrection Day and are not aware of anything: “the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing…for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10).
The Bible Says, after death a person: returns to dust (Psalms 104:29), knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), possesses no mental powers (Psalms 146:4), has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6), does not live (2 Kings 20:1), waits in the grave (Job 17:13), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2).
When people die, they enter a state the Bible likens to “sleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14), they remain unconscious till the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54). For more on the state of the dead, check out this article on the Intermediate State.
In His service,