Saul's Spirituality

This year, I've been using an OT/NT read-through-the-Bible-plan, which I've really been enjoying because it helps me revisit old passages that have intrigued me in the past but aren't necessarily the sort of passages that I would return to time and time again on my own. One such passage is 1 Samuel 28. It's the story where there's a battle with the Philistines coming up, Saul freaks out, he goes to a witch who raises Samuel's spirit from the ground, Samuel's kinda pissed, the witch freaks out, and then she gives him food to get him on his way as fast as possible. As a kid, the story was interesting to me for the obvious reasons- there's not much witchcraft in the Bible (as to be expected), the witch seems surprised that Samuel's spirit actually comes up from the ground (not as expected), and Samuel's angry (also expected) because Saul turned to witchcraft and also because I'd imagine that he just got pulled away from paradise/ "Abraham's bosom"/ the intermediate state.

But another interesting thing is the process that leads Saul to try witchcraft in the first place.
When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.
To use contemporary Christian parlance, Saul had a "fear of man." To use a more practical phrase, Saul didn't wasn't too keen on dying at the hands of the Philistines (and to give him at least a little credit, I'm sure he didn't want to lead his men to their deaths, either.) And what came of his fear? It led him to inquire of the Lord.
And when Saul inquired of the LORD,(G) the LORD did not answer him, either(H) by dreams, or(I) by Urim, or by prophets.
Saul is at the end of his rope, and he turns to God, but God doesn't answer him. Why?

I think an important piece of backstory information in the passage is that back when Saul was actually winning battles, he wasn't seeking the Lord. He was doing his own thing and generally messing up all over the place. In this story, Saul is not seeking the Lord because he is a holy, righteous person. He is seeking God because he's scared out of his wits and doesn't know what to do. He sees the Philistine army and is afraid. It's not so much that Saul wants to know what God's will for him is; he already knows that. Instead, he goes to God for some sort of assurance or strategy or power. He wants God's blessing for the upcoming battle, not God himself. Finally, our doubts about Saul's heart are confirmed when he seeks the counsel of God...from a witch. You know, the witches that God said to get rid of way back when because witchcraft was an abomination. Those witches.

A note on interpretation: it is important to understand that this story is a unique one. It is unique to Saul and his experience and his time period. It is meant to be a descriptive series of events, and not prescriptive instruction for our lives. This was in the OT and God's Spirit did not continually dwell with his people the way He does now. However, "all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in all righteousness." So what does this passage teach us about God and our hearts?

One lesson we can learn is that God shouldn't be plan B. When looking at my day or my week and staring at my "to-do" list and failing at doing everything on my's easy to become afraid. I'm afraid because I have created the idols of control and security in my life, and circumstances don't allow me to worship my idols. These things have obstructed my view of the cross. If I started out fearing and obeying and loving God, there would be no reason to fear anything else.

The second lesson we can learn is to examine the reasons why we seek spirituality. We seeks spirituality because we have some sort of "hole" in our lives we need to fill. What is that hole? Do we seek God because we see our grades/ jobs/ futures/ families slipping away? Do we seek God because we want some sense of fulfillment in our lives? Do we seek God because we want him to fix some situation for us? Seeking God may make us seem spiritual, even (and especially) to ourselves, but it is important to examine why we are searching. If we are seeking God for God himself, then we will find him. Ask, and you will be answered; seek, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened.

However, if we are seeking to fulfill our own desires, if we want to make God in the images of ourselves, or if we want God to be our Santa Claus, then we aren't seeking God at all. While we are seeking spirituality, we are not seeking God. We are consulting a witch.

When do we seek God? And why?