Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The "Ghost" of Samuel Youth Bible Study on 1 Samuel 28


The “Ghost” of Samuel

Brief: Most ghost sightings are deceptions, but there have been times when spirits have come back from the dead.

(Printable Student Sheet available for Patreon supporters or with a purchase of King David, the Mighty Runt.)

Intro Question
Have any of you ever seen a ghost?

Do you think ghosts are real?

We’ve been reading about how David fled from King Saul and has been living in the desert and then, in the country of the Philistines.

Scripture: 1 Samuel 28:1-20; Psalm 6:5; Isaiah 38:10-11, 18-19; Matthew 27:52-53; 1 Peter 3:18-20; Luke 16:19-31


Is this really the spirit of Samuel coming back from the dead, or is it a trick of the medium?

In this case, we have to assume that it really was Samuel being summoned because we are given no indication that the event was inauthentic in any way. The key here is that Samuel had to be summoned. He wasn’t wandering the earth or haunting his old residence.

Where was Samuel being summoned from? He surely wasn’t in Hell, and he wasn’t in Heaven yet. So, where was he?


David isn’t imagining singing in any Heavenly choir when he dies. He thinks that he will never again praise God once he has passed on.


The words that have been translated in these verses as “death,” “grave,” and “pit” all come from the Hebrew word, Sheol.

Samuel was being summoned from Sheol, or death, the place where all Old Testament persons had to wait until Christ died for them. And Samuel is only summoned for a brief period of time. He is still bound in death after this and unable to communicate or to leave death without being summoned again.

When we die, we don’t go to Sheol. We go to Heaven or Hell. What is the difference between Samuel and us? Why did he go to Sheol and we go to Heaven or Hell when we die?

The difference is that Samuel and everyone else in the Old Testament were living before Christ came, and we are living after Christ came. Death is the punishment for sin. Because Jesus had not yet come in the Old Testament, Samuel had to stay dead for his punishment. But for us, we have been forgiven. Jesus died on the cross, taking the punishment for our sins on Himself. So, when we die, our punishment has already been taken care of. We can’t stay dead because Jesus has already died for us.

It’s kind of like baseball. In the game of baseball, you can’t have two runners on the same base. Either one has to move forward, or the other has to go back. They can’t occupy the same base. It’s the same way with Jesus and us. Jesus has already occupied our place in death, so when we get there, death makes our spirits move on. We can’t stay there. We have to either go to Heaven or to Hell, based on the decision we have made.

So, our souls are free to move past death and go on to Heaven. Even though our bodies die, we’re not really dead. Our spirits live on through death and don’t have to stay in death like the spirits of the people of the Old Testament did.

That’s us. But now, we have to go back and ask: What happened to the people of the Old Testament who died before Jesus came? Do their spirits ever get to move on past death like ours do? Does Samuel ever get to live again?

And the answer to that question is Yes. In fact, their spirits have already moved on.


Everyone who lived before Christ was stuck in death. Once He died and was resurrected, they were free to move past death. Jesus had come to occupy their place, and they had to move on. You see, Jesus’ death wasn’t just for us. He wasn’t defeating death for us only. He was dying for Adam and for Cain and Abel and for Noah and for everyone who had died before He came.


Jesus went and preached to the people who were dead, all those people who had died in the Flood. His Spirit spoke to their spirits and told them the good news of why He had come. He gave them the opportunity to place their trust in Him for salvation. Jesus preached to the dead so that their spirits could live again.

The second mention of ghosts in the Bible is found in a story told by Jesus.


In this parable, Jesus is portraying Lazarus and Abraham as being in Sheol but in separate parts. These two characters are still in Sheol rather than Heaven and Hell because Jesus hasn’t died yet.

When the rich man begs for Lazarus to return as a ghost and to speak to his family, his request is denied. Not because it is impossible, but because it is impractical. The sending of people back from the dead is simply not done. It is ineffective in persuading people to repent.

God did allow Samuel to be summoned from Sheol, and maybe God allows the spirits of dead people to appear sometimes, but this parable tells us that it doesn’t happen very often. For the most part, people who are in Heaven or Hell will not leave those places again until the time of Christ’s second coming and the final resurrection.

So, what about ghosts that we see today? If people usually do not return to appear as ghosts to us, what are the ‘ghosts’ that people see?

I believe that the ghosts we see today are not people at all but demons disguising themselves as our loved ones and the random dead. The reason they do this is to cast doubt on the reality of Heaven and Hell. If the demons can make us believe that people become ghosts and wander the earth for a time, then it takes away some of the urgency of our eternal fate. It makes it seem like Heaven and Hell aren’t so immediate. We don’t have to worry about it quite as much. We can finish what we were doing on earth first. We can avenge our murderer. We can say good-bye to our families first.

Whereas these are all nice and comforting thoughts, they aren’t the reality. We don’t have any more time after we die. We can’t change our minds or repent or do things differently. We only have one life to do what needs to be done, and we only get one life to make our decision for eternity. When we die, that’s it. Time’s up, and Heaven and Hell are all that’s left. So, we better live like we understand that. Demons appearing as ghosts only seek to distract us from this fact.

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This lesson is included in my book, King David, the Mighty Runt: Youth Bible Studies on David's Road to the Throne.
King David, the Mighty Runt: Youth Bible Studies on David's Road to the Throne - Perfect for Youth Sunday School Lessons by [Wilson, Rev. Stephen R.]
Kindle $1.99, Print $4.99



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