Does GOD answer ‘ALL’ our PRAYERS? Then the Philistines gathered together, and came and encamped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, "Find me a woman who is a medium that I may go to her and inquire of her." (1 Sam 28:4-7)
Saul, who started his reign with great expectations being filled and prophesying through the Spirit of God (10:6-12), had a tragic life ending. He had started out with everything in his favor but then had departed from God gradually. It all began with him offering a presumptuous sacrifice as a result of which Samuel foretold the loss of his kingdom (13:14). Then Saul disobeyed God's specific commands and spared Agag and flocks due to which he lost his kingdom (15:28). With his total separation from Samuel, Saul then lost complete fellowship with God as well (28:6). In his downhill path Saul then visited a medium to get answers, and his doom was predicted (28:19). Finally, Saul ended up taking his own life in a battle that killed all his three sons as well (31:4, 6).
When Saul began his reign, it was “the dawning of the day” (9:26), but now he was walking in total darkness. Saul’s disobedience in the past had led to darkness in the present, and defeat along with death in the future. By consulting a medium (28:7), Saul made a poor choice as his use of witchcraft was a violation of God’s law (Exod. 22:18; Lev. 19:31; 20:6; Deut. 18:9–14), and that ultimately led to his death (1 Chr. 10:13–14).
Moreover, Saul had been fighting a ‘wrongly perceived’ enemy (David) for so long that when the ‘real’ enemy (Philistines) appeared, he was unprepared. Saul’s persistent disobedience had left him completely without God’s presence and protection. Saul had rejected God earlier and as a consequence God had rejected him now (15:23). When God gave him opportunities to repent, he ignored them. He did not “seek the Lord while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6).
All these problems did not happen overnight for Saul. When Saul had killed the priests from Nob earlier (22:18-19), he totally eliminated the means by which he could receive guidance from God. While David had the prophet Gad with him (22:5), it is unlikely that a true prophet accompanied Saul after Samuel had left him for good due to his deliberate sins (15:34-35). Moreover, the authentic ephod containing the Urim (2:28) had come into David’s possession now through the priest Abiathar (22:20-23; 23:6). God was not with Saul now and his prayer was not answered!
What should we do when our prayers are not answered immediately? The first thing is to examine our hearts to see if we have sin in our lives. The Psalmist has thus said: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear (me)" (Psalms 66:18). Let us confess our sins through the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:9), and forsake them as well. "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy" (Prov 28:13).