The final four chapters of 1 Samuel (ch 28-31) cover just a few days. As David's time with the Philistines drew to a close, as the Philistine army gathered together, Saul went to see the witch at Endor. As the battle between the Philistines and Israel started, David was at Ziklag, and fighting the Amalekites.
The Philistine army had marched many miles north to Mount Gilboa, only 20 miles from Lake Galilee, and David was at Ziklag in the south.
Through these incidents, God preserved David's life, and his integrity. Even though David had made various errors of judgment, he remained the man after God's own heart; and God's calling upon his life remained.
v1-2: Achish, being one of the five kings (or lords) of the Philistines, was gathering his army together to fight against Israel. David initially showed a willingness to fight with him.
v3: In Israel, things were not promising, for Samuel was dead; in contrast, in chapter 7, Samuel had prayed to God, and brought deliverance for Israel from the Philistine attack. There was no alternative way of seeking guidance, for Saul had, quite rightly, expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land. Samuel’s death is mentioned in 25.1
v4-7: Saul was increasingly desperate, hearing no word from the Lord God. He took the step, clearly forbidden, of consulting a medium.
v8-10: Saul went disguised, with deceit. He wanted to hear from Samuel, who had anointed him king, and brought God's word to him before, 'If I cannot hear from God, perhaps I can hear from God's prophet'. Saul promised the medium in the name of the Lord that she would not be harmed; a strikingly inconsistent statement. But such was the level to which Saul had fallen.
v11-15: Although Samuel did appear to the medium, we cannot conclude that we should use such means. In the N.T. there is no commendation of this practice, and no godly person seeks this means of guidance.
v16-19: Samuel continued to speak to Saul, even though he was dead. His words were invariably fulfilled, which was why Saul reacted as he did (v20). Both would shortly be in the domain of the dead, which was a place of peace, since Samuel had been disturbed.
v20: Saul became dreadfully afraid; he had been told the day of his death, which fact is kept secret from most people; such is God's mercy.
v21-25: Saul was already hungry, not having ate all day. He initially refused to eat, such was the confusion of his mind. He was persuaded to eat, before leaving, doubtless still in great fear. It is interesting that eveyr the medium showed kindness and hospitaility. The national culture, moulded by Jehovah the Redeemer of Israel, had not been entirely lost even in one who pursued a false religion.