I was just a few minutes away from major surgery. Nurses circulated through the room and I was hooked up to all sorts of monitors. Suddenly, a computer screen started blipping wildly. What was happening? Would I be all right? A nurse glanced at the readout and announced that it was monitoring my heart rate. I needed to calm down!

I'm not the only one who has experienced anxiety before a big event. One peek at the Philistine army caused King Saul to become "frantic with fear" (1 Samuel 28:5). Fear's influence increased until it controlled the king.

It started out with fear of the Philistines, but then Saul realized that because of some prior disobedience (15:7-26), "the Lord refused to answer him" when he asked for advice (28:6). Silence from God can make a frightening situation even scarier. So, instead of repenting, Saul ordered his advisors to find a spiritist.

Saul's fear was evident as he "disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing . . . . Then he went to the [witch's] home at night" (v.8). It was against his own law to consult with anyone who summoned dead spirits (vv.3,9), and he was afraid of getting caught! Still in panic mode, Saul asked Samuel's spirit for advice.

Samuel said that the Philistines would trounce Israel, killing Saul and his sons the very next day. Hearing this, "Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright" (v.20). When terror has control of us, it can immobilize us and make us ineffective. That's one reason God doesn't want us to live in the grip of fear. As Christians, we "have not received a spirit that makes [us] fearful slaves" (Romans 8:15). Rather, we're supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Letting God's Spirit control our minds "leads to life and peace" (v.6), instead of frantic feelings. , Jennifer Benson Schuldt

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