I Samuel 2:27–36: Prophecy Against the House of Eli
In the last passage, we were introduced to Eli’s sons, and told that they are wicked. In my thoughts on that post, I wondered if Eli might be a bad father, or if maybe he was a good father who happened to end up with bad kids. In this passage, a “man of God” (verse 27) comes to prophecy against Eli and his family, and it seems that God is holding Eli responsible.
First of all, God reminds Eli of all that He has done for Eli’s family; He revealed Himself to them when they were still in Egypt, and chose them to be His priests. And, of course, along with that, He gave them a portion of the offerings. And in return, they are scorning the LORD’s sacrifices and offerings (verse 29). And, in relation to the question of whether Eli is a good father or not:
Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel? (verse 29b)
Now, really, this quote is more indicating that Eli is a bad priest, rather than a bad father, but it also assigns blame to Eli for his sons’ actions.
So what will be the result of this? The man of God speaks:
“Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and your father’s house would minister before me forever.’ But now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your family line and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, in your family line there will never be an old man. Every one of you that I do not cut off from my altar will be spared only to blind your eyes with tears and to grieve your heart, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life.’” (verses 30–33)
And, as a sign to Eli that this is going to take place, God is going to cause both of Eli’s sons to die on the same day. God is then going to raise up a new priest, one who will be faithful to Him and do whatever is in His heart and mind. His house will be established, and he will minister before God’s “anointed one” always (verse 35). And the remains of Eli’s family line? They will come and bow down before this new priest, begging for money, and pleading to be allowed some priestly office, so that they can have food to eat.
Interestingly, Eli’s response to this prophecy is not recorded. Does he repent? Harden his heart? Disbelieve the man of God? We don’t know. (Unless it’s mentioned later on; as mentioned in a previous post, it’s been a long time since I read I Samuel, and I can’t remember everything that’s going to take place.) Of course, the new priest God is talking about will be Samuel.
The verse that interests me the most is when God says (through the man of God) that the new priest He is raising up “will minister before my anointed one always” (verse 35). Who is the “anointed one?” Well, I’d say it’s probably a pretty safe bet that that means Jesus, but what does it mean that this new priest will minister before Jesus? In this case, I don’t even have any theories to put here; it doesn’t yet make sense in my mind.