1 Samuel 28:8-15 “Conjure up for me, please, and bring up for me whom I shall name to you.”… Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”… He said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe… Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
Sometimes this passage is used to prove that Samuel, who was dead, must really be conscious in the afterlife since he was able to verbally communicate with King Saul. Some fundamentalists even presume that the deceased Samuel resides in heaven at this very moment.
Some considerations will easily dismiss these claims.
- The passage nowhere says that Samuel was in heaven. Rather, Samuel has come up from the grave in 28:8, 11, 13, and 15. The woman of Endor said that she saw Samuel coming up out of the earth. This seems to indicate that Samuel had died and was buried in the ground like virtually every other person in the Hebrew Bible before him.
- The earlier account of Samuel’s death clearly states that he was buried (1 Sam. 25:1).
- It is interesting that Samuel states that Saul and his sons will be with him tomorrow (28:19). This means that the wicked Saul and his sons will go to the same place where Samuel went, being the grave/Sheol. All come from dust and all return to dust (Ecc. 3:20).