The Spirit is a Lamp
The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord, searching every inmost part. (Proverbs 20:27)
The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly. (KJV)
Our culture has increasingly glorified the professional—men and women who have drilled every facet of life down to studies and statistics and figures. Gone is any mystery of the transcendent. And this mindset has seeped into the body of Christ, which has led to transmogrifying a straightforward message of redemption into a pseudo-intellectual self-help enterprise. Our Christian subculture has correspondingly turned away from the prophet with a revelation and clamored to preaching by the so-called professionals with their systematic theologies and book-sized articles seized with footnotes galore.
But the intellect of man is not the lamp of the Lord. His spirit is. When God called on Samuel to anoint a new king in Israel, Samuel didn't form a peer review committee. He didn't conduct lengthy interviews with Jesse's sons and mark off their leadership abilities, and he didn't put up the choice for a vote. He followed the leading of the Spirit which led him against even his own thoughts.
"Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you."
Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, "Do you come peaceably?"
He said, "Peaceably. I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice."
And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed is now before the Lord."
But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord does not see as men see. They look upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel.
He said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one."
Then Jesse made Shammah pass by.
And he said, "Neither has the Lord chosen this one."
Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, "The Lord has not chosen any of these. Are all your sons here?"
"There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep."
"Send and bring him; for we won't sit down until he comes here."
He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome.
The Lord said, "Rise and anoint him; for this is the one."
Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.
(1 Samuel 16:2–13, NRSV)
He anointed a boy that no professional would ever have given a second thought to being king. But that boy turned out to be the bedrock for an eternal kingdom.
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12–13, NRSV)
God is a spirit. He communicates with our inner man, not our intellects. We may have studies, facts, figures, and statistics under our arms, but they may not mean a thing to the One who is leading us. Samuel’s anointing of David is a dramatic example, but it shows us that not all of God’s leadings are consistent with our intellectual leanings. When we come to that crossroad, it’s imperative that we follow what we know on the inside, and not our own thoughts and reasonings.