1 Chronicles 10:13-14 records that Saul did not inquire of the Lord before seeing the medium:

Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord.

However, 1 Samuel 28:5-6 seems to imply that he did, and that when God wouldn't answer him he became so desperate that he went to the medium:

When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets.

Immediately afterwards, he went to see the medium to bring up Samuel.

How to resolve this difference?

2 Answers 2


You are right. He did inquire of the Lord—but not with a repentant heart.


Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) And enquired not of the Lord.--Saul had, in fact, enquired of Jehovah before resorting to the witch of En-dor, "but the Lord answered him not, neither by the dreams, nor by the Urim, nor by the prophets" (1Samuel 28:6). We shall not be reading a meaning of our own into the text if we say that Saul's natural impatience (1Samuel 13:13) on this occasion betrayed him again; he at once despaired of help from his God, instead of seeking it with self-humiliation and penitence. His character is consistently drawn throughout the history. The sin that ruined the first king was essentially that which led to the final ruin of the nation, viz., unfaithfulness to the covenant-God. The same word characterises both. (Comp. 1Chronicles 10:13 with 1Chronicles 5:25; 1Chronicles 9:1.)

Pulpit Commentary concurs:

Verse 14. - And inquired not of the Lord. Saul seems to have, in point of fact, inquired in some sense (1 Samuel 14:37; 1 Samuel 28:5, 6, 15). But the probable meaning is that he did not inquire in the first instance (see vers. 3, 4); and when he did inquire, he did not await the reply solely and exclusively of Jehovah.

That's one difference between Saul and David. David repented of his sin in 2 Samuel 12:13

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.

God spared David's life. Saul was stubborn.

  • That's true, he didn't inquire of God until he actually saw the Philistine Army and was terrified by it... I can see how that would be problematic. A bit late at that point. Nov 14, 2020 at 22:55

There is a very common practice among some people known as either:

  • "doctor shopping" - keep visiting physicians about a complaint until one receives the answer the patient has already decided
  • "expert shopping" - keep asking questions about a problem from a variety fo experts until one receives the answer one wants to hear.

King Saul appears to have been guilty of this, but in his case, it appears his condition might be labelled "oracle shopping".

When he "enquired of the LORD" as recorded in 1 Samuel 28:5-6, he either ignored the answer, or, more probably, God knew that he would ignore the answer and not repent and so the LORD "did not answer". We see this repeatedly - people who are hard of heart or who will ignore the answer (if given) are given no answer by God, eg:

  • Ps 18:41, They cried for help, but there was no one to save them-- to the LORD, but he did not answer.
  • 2 Sam 22:42, They cried for help, but there was no one to save them-- to the LORD, but he did not answer.
  • 1 Sam 14:37, They cried for help, but there was no one to save them-- to the LORD, but he did not answer.

From this we learn that when people asked anything of God, eg, for guidance, they must be in a condition that they are ready to receive and act on the guidance given, else no reply will be provided.

I Chron 10:13, 14 is significant here. The fact that he did enquire of God, but God did not answer, means that it was a waste of time asking because Saul would not have accepted the reply.

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