This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
The account of the Witch of Endor is the only instance in the Bible where a description of the processes and results is given. Whether any one appeared to the witch, and if so who, has caused eudless debate. Lange gives a summary of the different views. The Septuagint and the Apocrypha represent that it was Samuel, and Justin Martyr held the same; Tertul-lian that it was a pythoness, exclaiming, " Far be it from us to believe that the soul of any saint, much less a prophet, can be drawn forth by a demon"; Theo-doret, Justin, Origen, Ambrose, Augustine, and some Jewish rabbis held that the "appearance of Samuel" was produced by God's power; and Delitzsch, Heng-stenberg, and other moderns support it. Luther held that it was "the Devil's ghost"; Calvin that "it was not the real Samuel, but a spectre." Grotius thought that if was a deceptive spirit.
Amid the conflict I also will show " mine opinion." Saul, who was a man of strong passions, feeble judgment, and little self-control, had sinned, and God refused to hear him. With the Philistines visible at a distance of four miles, encamped in a better position than his own, being forsaken by God, his heart sank withiu him, and he determined to know the worst. Taking his servants into his confidence, he sought out a professed witch, or necromancer. Having received an oath that she would not be punished, she began in her usual way. " Whom shall I bring up unto thee?" This was her professed business. " Bring me up Samuel!" Immediately afterward the woman cried with a loud voice, and said to Saul. "Why hast thou deceived me, for thou art Saul?" There is a strong presumption that she would have known him under any circumstances. He was "head and shoulders above all the people"; his face must have been familiar; his camp was less than twelve miles from her cave. It is incredible, in that small country, with Saul ranging over it, and great public processions, that the witch had never seen him. Said he, " Be not afraid." She said," I see gods ascending out of the earth." "What form is he of?" "An old man covered with a mantle." Then Saul, who never saw anything, but depended upon her description, "perceived that it was Samuel".
What such women did in those times they are doing now in the East. She had retired — her cave, according to the Oriental custom, being divided by a curtain— and had been performing her incantations and muttering. It has often been remarked that when such a giant as Saul appeared and said, " Bring me up Samuel!" the witch must have been indeed a foolish woman not to suspect who he was that made such a strange request. Before Samuel is represented as speaking she knew that her interlocutor was Saul. Her motive for pretending not to know him at first was to increase her influence over his mind — a common device of such performers.
Before the witch spoke the words attributed to Samuel, Saul had given her all the facts that she needed to form the answer, in this full description of his situation and confession of helplessness and distress: "I am sore distressed, for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me. and answereth me no more, neither by prophets nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou may-est make known unto me what I shall do".
The answer plainly consists of things which Samuel had said while living, and of things that could be conjectured from the situation. It is not necessary to assume that the woman was wholly a deceiver. Possibly she believed that her incantations brought up the dead, and she may have fallen into a species of trance in which she imagined the character suggested by her applicant. If so, she would naturally imitate the tone of the supposed responder, and would speak to a great degree in harmony with what the character might be expected to say under the known circumstances. The narrator, as certain ancient Church decrees, according to Reginald Scot, declare, "set foorth Saule's mind and Samuel's estate and certeine things which were said and scene, omitting whether they were true or false".