SynopsisSo far, in the book of I Samuel, we’ve been dealing with the priest named Eli. In this passage, however, we are introduced to his sons, who are wicked men, and have no regard for the LORD (verse 12). In fact, there are a couple of things they’re doing that they’re not supposed to do:
- One concerns offerings that are presented to the LORD, of which the priests are supposed to take a share. The way it’s supposed to work is that the fat is to be burned first, as the LORD’s offering, and then when the meat is boiled, the priest is supposed to stick a fork into the pot; whatever he pulls out is to be his portion of the offering. However, Eli’s sons are instead taking meat with the fat still on it, even though the fat is supposed to belong to the LORD.
- Also—and this one’s easier to explain—they are sleeping with the women who serve at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
Eli mentions these things to his sons: “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the LORD’s people. If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” (verses 23–25). (Verse 25 calls this quote a “rebuke,” although, to me, it doesn’t seem forceful enough to be called a rebuke.) However, Eli’s sons don’t listen to him, because it is the LORD’s will to put them to death.
As all of this is going on, Samuel is ministering before the LORD, and growing in stature and favour with the LORD and with men (verse 26). Every year, when his mother Hannah is coming for the yearly offering, she’s making and bringing a new robe for him.
Eli also blesses Hannah, and prays for God to give her children, to replace the child she gave up; He does, and she has three more sons and two daughters.
ThoughtsA few thoughts on this passage.
I don’t know if Samuel’s dealing with is sons is bad parenting, in that he’s not being forceful enough with them, or if there is just nothing he can do. After all, they are adults by now, and sometimes kids grow up to be bad, even with good parenting. That being said, we’ll probably discuss this some more, when we get to future passages.
Samuel is right, though, when he talks about sinning against God vs. sinning against man. If you sin against God, who is going to intercede for you? There is nobody standing between yourself and the wrath of God! Which is why, by His Grace, He interceded Himself, by sending His Son to take that wrath. (Not that Eli would have known that last part.)
My pastor considers Romans 1:18–32 to be a very scary passage; people were being wicked, and so (to paraphrase), God gave up on them, and simply let them continue in their sins. (If it’s not this passage that my pastor has mentioned, it’s a similar one, but the idea is the same.) Is that what’s happening with Eli’s sons? When they don’t listen to their father, is it because the LORD has simply given up on them? Even if that’s the case, of course, it would only be part of the story, because as always, God probably has a number of things planned, based on this one event. (I can’t remember how this event will impact Samuel’s life—it’s been a long time since I read I Samuel—but I’m sure it will somehow.)