In answering this question we have at least two possibilities:
- The Samuel that Saul saw was real
If the Samuel that Saul saw was real, ie, a spirit or soul of Samuel in heaven, then,
- according to this chapter, heaven is under the earth because, the text repeatedly says that Samuel was "brought UP' out of the earth, V8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15. See appendix 2.
- an illegal witch (Lev 19:31, Deut 18:9-12, Isa 8:19, 29:4) can command the presence of a dead prophet. Necromancy and witchcraft was strictly forbidden in Israel. Deut 18:9-14. Therefore, an illegal and immoral witch could NOT command the presence of Samuel's "spirit". See appendix 1 below.
- Saul prostrated himself before "Samuel" (1 Sam 28:14) - another illegal act because of the first and second commandments as well as, 34:14; Deut 8:19, 2 Kings 17:35-38 commanding people to worship only God. I note that "Samuel" did not object as other did under similar circumstances, eg, Acts 10:25, 26, Rev 19:10, 22:8, 9.
- It is extremely unlikely that when God refused to answer Saul by the usual (legal) methods, 1 Sam 28:6, that God would then allow an illegal method for answering Saul!
- The Samuel that Saul saw was a demonic trick to deceive Saul
By contrast, if what Saul saw was a demonic trick, apparition to deceive him, then Samuel's prophecy is simply stating what was rather obvious - Saul would die in battle the following day.
It did not take divine intelligence to be able to predict this.
Further, according to Jesus, (John 3:13) - "No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man."
Therefore, what Saul saw was either the result of the witch's trickery or, more likely, an apparition of demonic spirits pretending to be Samuel.
APPENDIX 1 - Deut 18 - Sorcery and Necromancy forbidden
9 When you enter the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no
one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the
fire,a practices divination or conjury, interprets omens, practices
sorcery, 11 casts spells, consults a medium or spiritist, or
inquires of the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is
detestable to the LORD. And because of these detestable things, the
LORD your God is driving out the nations before you.
13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God. 14 Though these nations, which you will dispossess, listen to conjurers and
diviners, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so.
APPENDIX 2 - Hades and the Bosom of Abraham
There are some who believe the unbiblical concept of the Bosom of Abraham being Hades, below the earth somewhere. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosom_of_Abraham.
Under such a scheme, Hades is divided into two, four or six different regions to house the dead depending how they are classified and whose mythology one consults. Such an idea is not taught in the Scripture.
In the OT, Hades, or She'ol is uniformly the place of the dead and entirely dark and is the destination of all people regardless of the life they have lived. It is only in post-Babylonian mythology that this idea arises.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 is just that - a parable steeped in Jewish mythology. Despite all this, many still believe that the parable of the rich man and Lazarus as told by Christ in Luke 16:19-31 is a literal representation of heaven and hell after death. This view has some serious problems, for example:
- If this parable is understood literally, are we to interpret all parables literally? Did the trees in Judges 9:8-15 really hold a political conference? Is the shrewd (and dishonest) manager a real model of behaviour in Luke 16:1-8? Will the angels actually use scythes to gather the righteous “harvest” into the kingdom as explained in Matt 13:24 - 30? Will we all wear “wedding garments” in heaven, and will there be a few who accidentally get in who shouldn't have as in Matt 22:1-14? Rather, parables must be understood as teaching by analogy (that is the meaning of the Greek word parabole). In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the point of the story is given in the text, “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:31.
- If this parable is understood literally, will it really be possible for the suffering of those in Hades to be relieved by a single drop of water (Luke 16:24)? Do the saints actually live in “the bosom of Abraham,” (Luke 16:22)? Are the sections of Hades so close that it is possible to have a conversation between the inhabitants of each despite the chasm between? Will the rest of the righteous in Hades be somehow enhanced by the spectacle of a numberless mass writhing in agony? It is at this point that a literal interpretation collapses under the weight of its own absurdities!
- There are yet more problems with the literal understanding of this parable. The word for hell here is Hades (Luke 16:23). All other references to Hades in the New Testament show Hades to be a place of unconsciousness and darkness; never with fire. Gehenna is the place of fiery destruction. This provides another clue to the correct allegorical interpretation.
- A literal interpretation of this parable would have people judges as righteous or wicked and receive their reward immediately at death. This contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture that man receives his reward at the resurrection, see Rev 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” Luke 14:14 says: “Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” 2 Tim 4:8 says: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” See also 1 Cor 15:51-54.
In short, as Dr William Smith (Dictionary of the Bible, vol 2, p.1038) insists: “It is impossible to ground the proof of an important doctrine on a passage which confessedly abounds in Jewish metaphor.”