1 Samuel 2:35
And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
1 Samuel 3:19-21
19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord.
21 And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
In the days leading up to God’s calling of Samuel, the people of God had turned to their own ways; the final judge recorded in the book of Judges (the precursor to the book of 1 Samuel) was Samson. Samson was a divinely called judge with a Nazarite vow (a special vow separating him in service to God) on his life.
One interesting thing to note about this last judge of Israel was that while all the preceding judges had been called to lead the nation when the people repented and sought the Lord for help in their distress, yet in the days of Samson, we have no indication that the people repented and asked God for help. Yet God sent Samson anyways – and even as the people had not repented and turned to the Lord for help – Samson, the man God sent to deliver them, anyways was rejected, despised and persecuted by the Israelites all the days of his life, even to the degree that they tried to hand him over to their enemies, the Philistines for trying to save them (Judges 15:11 & 12).
After Samson, the book of Judges chronicles the life of a backslidden priest who falls into idolatry out of lust for money (Judges 18). The final story of the book of judges shows just how degraded the people had become (Judges 19-21).
Then comes the book of 1 Samuel; this book begins to show a slow-moving revival of a return to the Lord. The priesthood described at the beginning of the book is utterly corrupt, so that the priests are gluttons, drunkards and fornicators who make service to God detestable to the people (1 Samuel 2:17).
In the midst of all of this darkness and corruption, God raises up a young child, raised in innocence, and brought up in the Holy Place of the Most High.
As a young child, Samuel was given the task of keeping the fire burning in the Most Holy Place – that place where the ark of the covenant was set.
(According to the Law, only the High priest should in the Most Holy Place, but obviously, the priests had little respect for the Law… further, they were corrupted and compromised; Eli the high priest was going blind and could not therefore (even according to the Law) serve in the most Holy Place.)
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
In the midst of national political and social darkness, and in the midst of corruption, perversion and sin even among the priesthood, Samuel was raised in the secret place of the Most High.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
When the whole world is corrupt, twisted, warped and evil, yet there is a secret place of refuge in the presence of the Lord. Samuel shows us this vital Truth if we take his story in context.
The judgment of God is about to come upon all the people, beginning with the priesthood – shortly the Philistines would conquer the nation and take the ark of the covenant – yet in the midst of corruption and judgment, Samuel was safely nestled in the secret place of the Most High.
Are you abiding in the secret place with Christ? Corruption is come like a plague upon this world; that which is evil is being called good – the people whom God has raised up (as Samson) have been systematically rejected and betrayed by those they have come to deliver. Many of our ministers have fallen into sin and idolatry and compromised the Truth as Micah of Judges 18 (is this not ‘Progressive Christianity’?) the nation and social structure has fallen into grievous, murderous sexual corruption (are not our prevalent abortions the very embodiment of murderous sexual corruption?) as in Judges 19-21.
Public perversion reigns, and it is all we can do to keep our children from being groomed and brainwashed into complete degenerate perversion.
Are you dwelling in the secret place of the Most High?
As the story of 1 Samuel progresses, the enemies of God’s people come to bring them under subjection; and begin to destroy Israel in battle (1 Samuel 4:1 & 2).
On seeing this, the people of Israel try to determine why the Lord would allow them to be destroyed before the Philistines. (Had they paid attention to the Word of God; had they been dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, and honoring the Word of the Lord they would understand. Though, had they been doing this, they also would not be in the situation to begin with.)
Having no understanding, the army decides that they must fetch the Ark of the Covenant of God.
Now, it would make sense if they sought the help of God to defeat their enemies, if they thought they ought to honor the Lord and bring Him into the midst of their situation – to honor and reverence Him, to put their trust in Him for their salvation, rather than in their own strength.
But this is not why they sought to fetch the ark of the covenant. The ark had become to them but an icon; it was to them an idol that they sought to use for their deliverance. Notice the way that this verse is phrased:
1 Samuel 4:3
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
Did you catch it? The people said, Let us fetch the ark of the covenant out of Shiloh, that IT may save us from our enemies. The people were not calling on God, they sought not the Lord, but an icon – an image, an object – to save them.
Is it honoring God to put our trust in image of service Him? Is it honoring to God to put our trust in some historic item, event, or likeness? No, present tense service to God is abiding in His presence.
There may be historic movements that we want to return to, there may be icons, rituals, or traditions that we think of as service to God. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying any of these are bad, just as the ark of the covenant was not bad – the issue is our trust in and reliance upon these; upon anything other than the abiding presence of God.
The reason that the ark had had any value at all was because of the abiding presence of God, whose Spirit rested upon the mercy seat. Yet in the days of Eli’s priesthood, the people thought that the golden box had its own merit – its own value which they had dissected in their minds from the abiding presence of God. To them it was a magic golden box.
Interestingly enough, the Philistines understood better than the Israelites did. When the ark of the covenant arrived in the camp of the Israelites, they shouted so loudly that their jubilation could be felt in the ground. They were excited that their magic box had arrived, surely IT would save them!
But this was the response of the Philistines:
6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord was come into the camp.
7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.
The Philistines understood what the ark of the covenant meant (or what it was supposed to mean) better than the Israelites did. They realized that the ark meant the presence of the Israelite God had come into their camp, and they were terrified. They were filled with the fear of the Lord. And in their fear of the Lord, they defeated the Israelites.
But as the kingdom fell, God had established for Himself a man who would honor Him. Though all was lost to the house of Eli (the priest of Israel), not all was lost for the House of the Lord, for it is written:
And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
Revival can happen in the midst of a falling kingdom; God will raise up ministers who fear Him, abide in His presence, and honor His word.
Is it you?
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.