Recovery of the Glory (continued)
Priestly Intercession (continued)
This is the negative side. But it was not the end. Later the glory came back, and it came back in very great fullness - "the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord." As we have already said, this was due to the sovereignty of God, and also to the greatness of His grace. But it was also due to the fact that first a prayer ministry had been provided. Behind it all we find the figure of Samuel, God's priestly instrument.
It may be objected that the glory was a long time in coming back. It was. Samuel's was a long life, and he never lived to see that day. But patience is an important feature of priestly ministry - persistence in faith and perseverance in waiting upon God. These were the secrets of a life which had such a tremendous influence on the whole course of the history of God's people; for surely it is no exaggeration to say that the man who contributed most to the recovery of the glory was Samuel. Samuel, the intercessor.
If this is true, then it must be a profitable study to consider the essential traits which characterized Samuel. For many of us live under the shadow of Ichabod. We, too, feel, that the glory has departed. Although we could easily despair, there is with us also an inner conviction that the Lord's desire is to bring the glory back, once more to fill His spiritual House with His glory. There are many projects and suggestions that men may offer for the recovery of this departed glory. They may be right or they may be wrong, but they do not deal with the root cause or effect the radical cure. With us, as with Israel, the greatest need is for a mighty ministry of intercession - if necessary prolonged like Samuel's, if necessary to extend beyond our own lifetime as it did beyond his - but a ministry which will turn all the 'Ichabods' into "Hallelujahs."
The first thing to be noted with regard to Samuel is his simplicity. Samuel was not a priest. He had no official place in the priestly order. So far as we know he was never anointed by men nor ordained by them. It is true that his father was a Levite, but even so he does not seem to have been engaged in any Levitical work. People would have regarded him as a very ordinary boy in a very ordinary family.
Of course he was not this. One cannot class as ordinary a child who has such a miraculous entrance into the world as Samuel had. He himself was an answer to prayer. It would, indeed, perhaps be correct to say that this mighty ministry of intercession had its commencement with his mother, Hannah. This, then, was his beginning - God brought him in. And this is the way in which every true intercessory ministry begins: it is initiated by God Himself. This, surely, was what enabled Samuel to continue through all the long and testing years: this knowledge that it was no natural contrivance and no effort of his own, but an act of God which had brought him into being.
Even so, there was something very simple about this vessel of God's service. "The child was young". "But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child". "Moreover his mother made him a little robe". "All this seemed to point to a homely insignificance, which meant that he was completely overlooked by Ichabod's mother. What could this feeble lad contribute to the recovery of the glory? This, however, is just the one who can serve God in the place of prayer, weak and despised in himself, but mighty in intercession. He turned the tide for God. "The sin of the young men was very great ... men abhorred the offering of the Lord. But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod" (2:17, 18). Once again there is a Divine "but ..." And it was a child in all his natural inadequacy who faced and stemmed the flood of evil and hopelessness. He stood his ground with the Lord, and in the end the glory came back. No one need be ashamed of their simplicity or insufficiency! It seems as though this was what the Lord was needing, someone small enough and humble enough to be usable. In Samuel He found just what He wanted.
(continued with # 46 - (Samuel's Teachability)