But one thing in particular found its way to me today.
1st Samuel 3:3. (And, the surrounding verses for context, of course.)
and the lamp of God had not yet gone out [was about to go out], and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was,
If you have followed the life of Eli, his heretical and perverted sons, and the young boy, Samuel, you may already have an idea of what is going on.
The Bible says that it was a time when the Word of the Lord was precious. In fact, it goes so far as to say that no one had open vision any longer. This INCLUDED the high priest, Eli.
How difficult it must have been that Eli who once had vision, now could not see openly. As his natural sight was dying, so was his spiritual insight. He no longer had the ability to see, nor oversee the nation of Israel.
God even sent another prophet to warn Eli. Eli knew that the things his sons were doing were unjust and wrong, yet he did not utterly punish them. They continued perverting the sacrifices of God. After warning Eli by sending a prophet, one final misdemeanor performed broke the camel’s back.
It was not an act of defilement, but an act of disobedience that caused God to declare that He had forever turned his back on the family line of Eli.
The lamp of God almost, almost flickered out.
What is so important about this? Do you know WHAT lamp this particular lamp is?
This is the lamp that in Exodus 27:20 God instructed the Israelites to NEVER go out. It was the symbol of God’s presence in the temple, as it shone at all times. Some even believe that it was representative of the lamp that passed between the sacrifice which marked the covenant between God and Abraham in Genesis 15:17.
This same lamp was about to flicker out. Eli’s sons were irreverent toward anything holy, so it was up to Eli to ensure that the lamp of God remained. Yet, Eli’s vision was dim. He could hardly see anything at all.
He had come to live in partial darkness at all times. How could he be expected to even know if the lamp of God was going dim? Parallel this to Eli’s spiritual life and you can quickly see the sad state that this once-powerful man of God was now living in.
He moved about feebly from room to room in a dark cloud, unable to know that the presence of God was fading. The moment that his personal comfort came before protecting the presence of God, the moment just before the lamp was extinguished, the Lord called out to a young boy in the night season.
I can imagine Samuel, thinking that his master, Eli, had called him, went running through the halls of the temple. As he passed the lamp of God, I am sure that he stopped in partial terror. ‘Had the lamp gone out?’
As he approached, I can see him noticing the last fading light, quickly refilling the oil so that it burned bright once again, then continuing on his dash to visit his master.
I can almost imagine him totally stunned to find out that his master was snoring. When he first stumbled upon the fading lamp of God, I am sure that he must have concluded that Eli had been attending to other duties. Samuel must have sheepishly refilled the lamp expecting to find Eli asking him to do just that. Instead, Eli was deep asleep.
Even after rousing his master, Samuel found that Eli had no clue that the lamp of God was almost extinguished. This negligence of Eli’s was repaid with total reproach from God.
As He has said, “I want obedience more than sacrifice!”
This principle of God’s shone brightly that night. It took the innocent concern of a young servant boy to rekindle the presence of God for all of Israel.
Which carries me toward my new revelation (I use that word lightly) on obedience. It was more important to Eli’s sons to do the daily sacrifices than to have a tender heart to hear the Lord and be obedient. It was more important to Eli, old as he may have been, to rest than to tend to the presence of God for all of Israel. What dreadful thing would have happened if at that moment the lamp of God was extinguished?!
Here is the unique thing about Samuel. The Bible says that Samuel did not yet know the Word of the Lord. (By the end of the night, he would! In fact, Eli was so hungry for the Word of the Lord, that he threatened Samuel with a curse the next morning if he did not share what the Lord said.)
But Samuel was sensitive to the things of God. Samuel was tender-hearted toward what God deemed was important to Him.
Obedience is like that. You can be obedient to the Lord and not know all of His laws. You can do this by simply being tender-hearted and passionate about what He is passionate about. You can be obedient by being sensitive enough to hear Him, even if you do not recognize His voice.
By doing so, Samuel rekindled the light in Israel, re-established the Word of the Lord for His people, and became the conduit for the Lord to move in Saul’s life, in David’s life, and in the lives of generations of believers the world over.
Many people have made sacrifices for God, and go unrecorded. The obedient have been awe-inspiring, and motivate us to heed the Lord to this day.