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"The Golden Wick-Trimmers" (posted July 21, 2022)

   He also made the lampstand of pure gold.... And he made its seven lamps, its wick-trimmers, and its trays of pure gold.
   - Exodus 37:17, 23

In Exodus 37, verses 17-24 relate to the making of the candlestick, or lampstand, for the tabernacle. Among the accessories to it, we read in verse 23 that [Bezalel] "made its seven lamps, its wick-trimmers, and its trays of pure gold." There is that here that is intensely interesting and unspeakably precious.

No lamp will burn well without occasional wick-trimming.* Hence God has made provision even for such an apparently insignificant matter as this. To the mind of man it might seem of trifling importance as to how a light was trimmed and what was done with the black trimmings afterwards. In God's eye, nothing is trivial that concerns the glory of His Son or the welfare of His people.

The wick-trimmers were made of pure gold-- that which symbolizes the divine glory and speaks, too, of perfect righteousness. It may often happen that some saint of God is losing his brightness and no longer shining for Him as he once did. It is the priest with the golden tongs to whom is entrusted with the delicate task of "wick-trimming." "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). Thus will the "wick-trimming" be accomplished according to God, and the restored brother's light burn all the brighter for it.

But what then? Is the evil then to be spread abroad and made a matter of common knowledge? Ah, there were not only the trimmers, but the trays; and they too were of pure gold! The priest was to put carefully away, in these golden receptacles, the black, dirty trimmings which he had removed from the wick.

To have gone about spreading the filth upon the spotless garments of other priests would have been to defile them all. It must be hidden away in the presence of God! Is not this where we often fail?

How much grief and sorrow might have been prevented in many an assembly if the golden trays had been more often used! On every hand we hear of strife and discord brought about through evil speaking; and it is remarkable how ready we are to listen to that which we know can only defile. Oh that there might be more "angry countenances" among us when the backbiter is out (Proverbs 25:23), seeking to spot and blacken the snowy garments of God's holy priests!

In the New Testament the divine way of dealing with a brother's fault is clearly defined: "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother" (Matthew 18:15). If brethren would sternly refuse to listen to complaints against others until this first condition has been complied with, it would go far to do away with evil speaking. Many a brother would be won if approached in priestly nearness to God by one who carried with him the golden wick-trimmers and the tray.

*The oldest meaning of "snuffing" (the author's original word here) referred to trimming the wick of a lamp or candle. To be clear for contemporary readers, "snuffing" has been changed to "wick-trimming" and "snuff-dishes" changed to "trays" throughout this article.

Harry A. Ironside

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