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Bible Self-Study Supplement

The Initiate Work of Samuel
Samuel's First Testing

   The spiritual preparation for his life work began early for Samuel, as it also did in a later era for the child Jesus.

   The Bible narrative continues with an account of how the youthful Samuel was bidden to denounce the house of Eli: "For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knoweth. because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not,"

   Child though the prophet was, he realized the bitterness his revelation held for the aged Eli, and therefore we are told, "And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision." Thus early came Samuel's first testing on the path; by his response he proved his spiritual fitness for the performance of certain great works to be entrusted to him.

   It was not easy to obey the command of the Voice. It meant for one thing dismissal from the service of the high priest, which in the eyes of his people was a disgrace from which there was no recovery. Moreover, in this Temple work, Samuel enjoyed comparative ease, security and promise of advancement both professional and spiritual. Should he temporize with material power or should he be true to the revelation of the spirit? His command was clear: To pronounce doom upon the house of Eli. It is at such a place as this, the place of the first temptation, that the neophyte must learn to stand alone, and young Samuel, separated from his adoring parents, was obliged to make his decision unaided by aught save the heavenly vision.

   Thus with every neophyte: by occult law the time of a spiritual promotion is usually the time of a material reverse-so widely at variance are the ways of material and spiritual progress.

   Samuel conquered his fear, and "told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good." Samuel had met his first great test victoriously, whereupon he was blessed with an increase of wisdom. "And Samuel grew and the Lord was with him, and he did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord." (I Samuel 3:18-20) And thus he was prepared for the hard tasks that lay ahead.

   The Philistines represent man's lower nature, the Israelites the higher, and the Ark of the Covenant the spiritual power which man has evolved within himself.

   Where the Ark is, all good abides. The two sons of Eli are slain because they used unworthily the power symbolized by the Ark. The Ark also brought only evil to the Philistines, and to Dagon, their god of false and evil powers. The false cannot stand before the true, the masked beside the real. The way of the flesh is destruction; the way of the spirit, eternal life. The hand of God is the working of retributive Law.

   The Ark was taken to Bethshemesh, the city of the Sun, signifying the way of transmutation or attainment. The Ark contains the Table of the Law (pure living), the golden pot of manna (the conserved life force), and Aaron's Rod that budded (the uplifted spirit fire and awakened spiritual centers). The significance of Bethshemesh pertains no less to the man of today than it did to the people of the time when it was written.

   In these few and apparently simple verses is described the attainment of Samuel, the greatest teacher and prophet since Moses. Beth-car means "the house of the lamb" and represents the new body built through purity and transmutation. Samuel's annual circuit is reminiscent of the annual cycle of the Sun as it progresses through the twelve signs of the Zodiac, which biblically have their reflection in the twelve tribes over which he judged. This is likewise the basis of the alchemical cycle, by which the Great Work was accomplished in medieval Europe. The precious white stone described in verse twelve is that very Philosopher's Stone of which so much is written and so little understood: "Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen." Mizpeh, a watch tower between man and God, stands for prayer without ceasing, and a state of constant communication between man and the angelic Hierarchies. Shen means "renown," and Ebenezer "the help or power of the Lord (cosmic Law)" One who avails himself of this aid has nought to fear from the Philistines.

   The cities taken by the Philistines were returned in every instance to Israel from Ekron (rooting up, eradicating evil) unto Gath (strength, power of spirit). Bethel, or "house", signifies the holy temple of the God Within, and Gilgal (circle) has reference to the spiritual centers active therein which are awakened through the powers of the illumined spirit. Israel, the fruits of the higher life, must be judged by the work done in Bethel, Mizpeh and Gilgal; Ramah, the high place, the home of the Ram, is the holy of holies within; it is the Ark of the Covenant builded within the body of the Initiate. This most holy place is always an altar unto the Lord.

 — Corinne Heline

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