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Q & A - King Saul Inquires

Q: 1 Samuel 28:6 says that King Saul “inquired of the Lord” but “the Lord answered him not,” so he went to the prophetess at Endor. However, 1 Chronicles 10:13 and 14 says Saul died because he inquired of the prophetess at Endor “and inquired not of the Lord.” Can you explain this apparent contradiction?

A: The record in question occurs the night before Saul and three of his sons were killed in battle by the Philistines. In 1 Samuel 28:5 we read that when Saul saw the magnitude of the army of the Philistines he was afraid. Then he inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him. So he told his servant to seek out a woman with a familiar spirit that he might inquire of her. The apparent contradiction here stems from an error in translation. Although the word “inquire” is used in both instances in the English version, there are two different Hebrew words used in the Hebrew text. The word “inquired” in 1 Samuel 28:6, in which Saul inquired of the Lord, is shaal. However, the word “inquire” in verse 7, in which Saul seeks a woman with a familiar spirit to inquire of her, is darash. The word darash shows more intensity than the word shaal.

These two verses are quite a commentary on Saul's head at this time. He was only willing to ask (shaal) the true God, while he was willing to inquire (darash) of the woman of the familiar spirit. The extent of the intensity of Saul's desire to seek an answer from the prophetess of Endor can be plainly seen with the aid of a map or a Bible atlas. The Philistine camp was at Shunem, at the southern foot of the hill of Moreh. This was six miles north of Mount Gilboa, where the Israelites were camped. Endor was eight miles north of Mount Gilboa on the northeast side of the hill of Moreh. The hill of Moreh was the logical place for the Philistines to place a lookout. Saul was so intent on seeing the woman with a familiar spirit that he risked traveling around the enemy camp with its lookouts to get to Endor at the opposite side of the hill of Moreh from the main Philistine camp.

When Saul met with the prophetess of Endor, she told him he would be killed by the Philistines, and he was. The record in 1 Chronicles 10:13 and 14 says he died because he inquired (darash) of the woman with the familiar spirit but did not inquire (darash) of the Lord. This agrees with the record in 1 Samuel in which Saul only inquired (shaal) of the Lord, but inquired (darash) of the woman with the familiar spirit.

Topic: Saul, Endor
Format: pdf

Victor Paul Wierwille (December 31, 1916 – May 20, 1985) dedicated his life to the research and teaching of the Bible. In his quest for truth he consulted and worked with some of the most outstanding individuals in Biblical studies and Christian living; including Karl Barth, Joseph Bauer, Glenn Clark, Karl J. Ernst, Joseph Friedli, Louis C. Hessert, Elmer G Homrighausen, E. Stanley Jones, George M. Lamsa, Richard and Reinhold Niebuhr, K. C. Pillai, Paul Tillich, Ernst Traeger, and many others.

Dr. Wierwille received his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Theology degrees from present day Lakeland College, and conducted graduate studies at the University of Chicago and Princeton Theological Seminary. It was at Princeton that Wierwille earned the Master of Theology degree in Practical Theology. He later completed his Doctor of Theology degree at Pike's Peak Bible Seminary and Burton College in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Dr. Wierwille was the author of numerous books in the field of Biblical research, including Are the Dead Alive Now?; Receiving the Holy Spirit Today; Jesus Christ Our Passover; and Jesus Christ Our Promised Seed. Additionally, he developed and taught several comprehensive classes directed toward helping people to understand the Bible and to increase the power of God in their lives, such as the Power For Abundant Living series, Living Victoriously, and the University of Life courses. Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille was the founder and president of a world-wide Biblical research, teaching, and fellowship ministry for forty years; as well as the founder and president of several Biblical research centers, colleges, leadership training, and Christian outreach programs associated with it.

Victor Paul Wierwille served the Lord with unending joy all the days of his life as he travelled continuously throughout the world to hold forth the Word of God. He reached thousands of people during his lifetime through his live presentations, numerous radio and television broadcasts, film and video classes, and recorded teachings. And countless others continue to enjoy and be enriched by his books and hundreds of hours of recorded works, many of which are available in the public domain. A detailed listing of his work, as well as more information about his life and teachings can be found at Eternally Blessed (