The alleged practice of communicating with the dead is termed Necromancy.
If someone you loved truly and immensely, were to die, it is not absolutely unreasonable for you to want to talk to them. It really does not matter as to what you would want to speak to your dead relative. You may not want to speak to the dead necessarily to learn about your future. You may merely want to speak to your dead relative because you loved them dearly. This desire is legitimate. But then the reality needs to be ascertained. Could the living speak to the dead?
Of course the living could speak to the dead via a linear model (one way) communication! Very minimally, the living could communicate with the dead as how anyone may try to communicate with a person who is blind and deaf. A person who is both blind and deaf would not recognize any communication from anyone unless the person who tries to communicate deploys methods to attract the attention of the blind and deaf person. The linear model of communication serves no purpose to the sender of the message.
Can The Dead Speak To The Living?
If the linear model of communication does not serve the purpose of communicating with the dead, then it is futile to think whether the living can speak to the dead. Instead, let us consider if the dead can communicate to the living. Unless we are persuaded about the ability of the dead to communicate with the living, it would be vain to even think of speaking to the dead.
There is an important detail to remember while speaking of the dead. The dead are presently in a disembodied state (a state where their souls are alive but without their body). (The souls of the dead will receive their resurrection body during the Lord’s second coming.) However their existence in a disembodied state would not, I reckon, disable them from speaking to the living.
So can the dead speak to the living?
The only account of the dead speaking to the living is found in 1 Samuel 28 wherein Saul seeks to consult the dead prophet Samuel through a medium, “Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at Endor.” So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments, and went, he and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit, and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.”…Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.” The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” …And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me…Moreover the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.” Then Saul fell at once full length upon the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel…” (1 Samuel 28:7-20, RSV, Emphasis Mine).
Saul not only consulted with the dead Prophet Samuel, but the dead prophet Samuel prophesied the death of Saul (verse 19; compare the prophecy with 1 Samuel 31 & 2 Samuel 1). So it is indeed possible that the dead could speak to the living.
As a side note, if the souls of the dead are in a disembodied state, how did the medium see Samuel with a body (verse 13-14)? God alone has the power to bring back the dead to life (1 Samuel 2: 6). So it would be plausible to state that God brought back the dead Samuel to speak to Saul. God would have given the medium a vision of Samuel in a robe, although Samuel was and is still in a disembodied state.
Could The Living Speak To The Dead?
Although the conversation between the living Saul and dead Samuel is the only instance of the living communicating with the dead, could we reasonably conclude that the living could speak to the dead?
If the Bible does not prohibit the communication between the living and dead, we could confidently assert that the living could indeed speak to the dead. So, what does the Bible say about the living communicating with the dead?
The Bible does speak about the presence of mediums or spiritists who communicate with the dead. Do the mediums really communicate with the dead?
God alone has the power to allow the living disembodied soul of the dead people to communicate with the living. But the Bible unequivocally condemns mediums and spiritists. When God condemns mediums and spiritists, it is quite reasonable to posit that God would not allow the mediums and spiritists to communicate with the dead. Who then would the mediums and spiritists communicate with? It’s quite plausible that they communicate with the evil angels.
The Bible prohibits the living to communicate with the dead (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18: 9-12; Isaiah 8: 19). God hates those who practice occultism. God killed Saul for disobeying him, for Saul had also disobeyed God by consulting with the dead Samuel, “So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord and did not obey the Lord’s instructions; he even tried to conjure up underworld spirits. He did not seek the Lord’s guidance, so the Lord killed him and transferred the kingdom to David son of Jesse.” (1 Chronicles 10: 13-14, NET). Hence, we should not communicate with the dead for any reason whatsoever.
Why Does The Bible Prevent The Living To Speak With The Dead?
Could the living speak with the dead so that those who live may repent and come to Christ when they hear their dead friend / relative speaking from their place of bliss or torment? It is not possible, says the Lord Jesus Christ, “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16: 31, NIV).
Other than the instance of the living Saul speaking to the dead Samuel, the Bible does not provide us with any reason whatsoever to think that God would allow the dead people to communicate with the living. So God will prevent the dead from communicating with the living and HE also mandates (through HIS edicts in the Bible) that the living should not strive to communicate with the dead.
Furthermore, it is impossible for the living to speak to the dead without a medium. But the mediums could only communicate with evil angels and not the dead people. Since evil angels would lead us away from God, the Bible forbids us to communicate with the dead. So we should not strive to communicate with the dead.
The emptiness in the lives of the living because of the death of a loved one would only be satisfied by the Triune God. Hence we who are living, who may be depressed by the death of a loved one, should strive to get nearer to God, and then the shepherd of our souls will satisfy our souls.
Shepherd of my soul I give you full control,
Wherever You may lead I will follow.
I have made the choice to listen for Your voice,
Wherever You may lead I will go.
Be it in a quiet pasture or by a gentle stream,
The Shepherd of my soul is by my side.
Should I face a mighty mountain or a valley dark and deep,
The Shepherd of my soul will be my guide.
Shepherd of my soul Oh You have made me whole,
Where’er I hear You call how my tears flow.
How I feel your love how I want to serve
I gladly give my heart to You O – Lord.
Be it in the flowing river or in the quiet night,
The Shepherd of my soul is by my side.
Should I face the stormy weather or the dangers of this world.
The Shepherd of my soul will be my guide.
"Shepherd of My Soul" is a song by Marty Nystrom.