“The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
I love this verse. The detail about the lamp of God functions in two ways. The first is entirely mundane. In the tabernacle (the reference to “the temple of the Lord” is anachronistic since the temple wouldn’t be built for over 100 years, and anyway, the Hebrew here refers simply to a large building or structure so tabernacle would be an acceptable translation as well), there was a special lamp, a candlestick more precisely, that was lit each night and burned until morning. The other meaning here is more special.
Back in v. 1 the text references the fact that the voice of prophecy was rare in these days. I unpacked that briefly in a previous note. God wasn’t speaking often to the people, but still, the lamp of God hadn’t yet gone out. He wasn’t done speak entirely. He hadn’t abandoned the people completely. His light was still burning.
No matter how dark things may get, the lamp of God hasn’t yet gone out. He is always watching and waiting for the right time to call us to action as He was about to do to Samuel. We need to learn to listen so that we recognize His voice and His call when we hear it.
In this regard, this verse holds a special place in my heart. It was instrumental to my own call to full time ministry as a vocation. The summer that happened, I had spent nearly eight weeks teaching a bunch of kids from all over the country to listen to God’s call to ministry in their own lives with this verse as the main theme of the conversation. Finally, at the tail end of the summer our camp director, Katie (who is still a good friend and a great pastor and leader), challenged all the staff to make sure we were learning the lessons we had been teaching. It was a lightning rod moment. Suddenly, I was seeing everything through a new lens. God wasn’t just calling these kids to ministry, He was calling me to it as well. The lamp of God hadn’t yet gone out.
In your own life, the lamp of God hasn’t yet gone out either. No matter where you are or what you are doing, God has a call for you. It may not be to full time, professional ministry as a vocation, but it is to ministry from wherever you happen to be. You can be an agent, a witness to the expansion of God’s kingdom into this world. You can proclaim the Gospel with boldness no matter where you are. You can be instrumental in the spiritual conversations that result in someone accepting the offer of Jesus to receive eternal life. The lamp of God hasn’t yet gone out. What will you do as it continues to burn?