David felt that there was no hope to avoid the attacks and eventual death at the hands of Saul. He decided to take his 600 men and go to the Philistines at Gath. Achish gave David the city of Ziklag. David dwelt among the Philistines for one year and four months. During his time there, he attacked many cities in Philistia, and destroyed all the people in them, so that no one would be able to report to the Philistines. When he returned to Achish, he reported to him that he had attacked a city in the south of Judah. This made Achish believe that David had turned his back on Israel, and that he would be his servant forever. When the Philistines decided to attack Israel, Achish informed David that he would fight with him.
The next part of this story is the account of Saul consulting a medium. Samuel had died, and Israel buried him. The Philistines gathered against Israel, and Saul camped opposite them to prepare for battle. However, Saul was afraid of the great army of the Philistines, and could not get an answer from God through a dream or through the Urim or the prophets. Then Saul asked for his men to find him a woman who was a medium, or spiritist. They found one at En Dor, and Saul disguised himself to see her. He asked her to conduct a seance in order to bring Samuel back to speak with him. She resisted at first, citing Saul’s prohibition of mediums and spiritists. He promised that no evil would come upon her, and she “called up” Samuel. She identified Saul, and showed him Samuel. Saul asked him what he should do about the Philistines. “Samuel” said that Saul would lose the battle and that his sons would die. Saul fell on the ground, and was severely troubled. The woman tried to get Saul to eat something and he refused, but eventually relented and ate. Then they left the medium’s house.
David attempted to avoid the danger of Saul’s wrath, but refused to fight against him or his people. Instead, David–through deceit–fought for Israel and weakened the Philistines. Saul, on the other hand, in his position of disfavor with God, should have fought the Philistines, but in fear he sought wisdom from a witch, of sorts. The “Samuel” he saw was probably a spirit, whether of God or of Satan is unclear. However, Saul did not receive the news he hoped for, but rather received a message of judgement. When you are in danger, do not operate in fear and seek manmade solutions. Instead, trust God and keep doing what you know God would be pleased with, and believe He is with you!