"Then they got up and went away that night" - 1 Samuel 28:25b
Night. The visual evokes emotion as I think about it - loneliness, fear, hopelessness. For some time now, I have been intrigued by this simple and familiar word.
The night was never created by God. It was named, but it has been the "void" since the beginning.
Gen. 1 says, "The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep...And God saw light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day and the darkness night."
In contrast, Jesus describes himself in John 8, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life"
If light symbolizes God, then darkness connotes everything that lacks the presence of God. It is the absence, the void of him.
In 1 Samuel 28, Saul is facing a major crisis, but Yahweh is nowhere to be found. His words in verse 15 open our eyes to the true anguish of a life abandoned by God, "I am in terrible distress".
Saul's response to this misery reveals the state of his heart; he runs to a medium, hoping to bring up the prophet Samuel to aid him and show him favor. Saul sought affirmation, not reconciliation. What he truly needed was not to prepare for battle, but to recover God's presence, God's communion.
Samuel's words to Saul instilled fear; he would die. His kingdom had long been taken from him and his end had come. With sheer hopelessness, the author writes those last words, "Then they got up and went away that night" (v. 25b).
Why? Why would the author draw such attention to a small detail as such?
John 13:30 "So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night"
A similar phrase, used to describe Judas' exit. Surely, John was not merely telling the time. He wants to tell us it was night; it was like entering into darkness itself.
Darkness can be scary; people lock their doors, walk in pairs.
At night there is less inhibition, "spending" time with a certain someone doesn't seem quite as inappropriate, drinking the extra glass of alcohol won't really be that bad, etc.
But here is the glory that shines through the truth of the gospel. God's Son went through the darkness of God's absence for us, the darkness and agony of God-forsakeness. Jesus cries out in Mark 15 saying "My God, my God why have you forsaken me." He experienced true misery in that moment, he entered into darkness itself. Jesus Christ walked through utter darkness, utter separation from his Father, so that we might walk in the light of life.
Saul went away that night, hopeless and abandoned by God. But, Jesus Christ came and died so that we do not have to ever experience the rejection of our Father. He is the light that shines in that darkness.
Have you been seeking the one who has endured the darkness for you?