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Surrounded By Sin But Not Influenced By It


1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
(1 Samuel 3:1)


The events in today’s passage tell us that the boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. The Hebrew word for boy here is נַעַר (pronounced: na`ar) which usually refers to a boy around twelve years old.

This is the third time we’ve read that Samuel ministered before the Lord [1 Samuel 2:11, 18]. This is significant because of the other things that were going on around him at the time. Despite the sin being perpetrated by Hophni and Phinehas, Samuel continued to serve God; he did not take after those around him. Moses (in Egypt) and Daniel (in Babylon) did likewise.

Even though Eli’s sons rebelled against God and their own father, Samuel obeyed and served both. Those mens’ behavior lead to their destruction. But Samuel’s behavior lead him to greater things as we’ll see.

Samuel was surrounded by and in contact with sin every day. Yet he was not contaminated by it. Sin abounds in this world and is becoming more prevalent. There is no escaping it. But we can still be separated from it; we do not have to be influenced by it. We should persevere in serving the Lord faithfully, regardless of what anyone and everyone around us may or may not do in their own lives.

The world does not know God and their behavior reflects it. We should not take after them. But it is also true that professing Christians can be engaging in sinful behavior. We should not be influenced by them either. Our eyes should be on Jesus, not on our fellow man. Our standards should come from God’s word and nowhere else.

Samuel’s duties in serving the Lord were obviously commensurate with his age and abilities. He apparently opened the doors of the tabernacle each morning [1 Samuel 3:15]. Possibly he also lit the lamp stand (i.e. menorah) each evening and kept it burning throughout the night [2 Chronicles 13:11] as we know he was sleeping in the tabernacle itself [1 Samuel 3:3]

Notice that Samuel’s tasks were not complicated. They were capable of being performed by anyone. Yet he carried them out faithfully.

Too often we want to serve God in some grand way like going on a mission trip or writing a book. But God is looking for people who are willing to do the everyday tasks, such as being a greeter at our church or cleaning the bathrooms. Such tasks are no less important than any other, if they are done for God. And make no mistake, God notices all that we do for Him, even if people don’t.

God isn’t looking for superstars. He is looking for humble people who are willing to serve Him where needed. It is the size of our faith that matters, not the size of our responsibilities.

Having said that, if we are willing to serve Him in the smallest way possible He will bless us with more responsibility [Luke 16:10]. As we’ll read, Samuel’s faithfulness in the small tasks led God to use him for bigger things.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Unfaithful Servants Will Not Thwart God’s Plans


27 And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36 And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”
(1 Samuel 2:27-36)


The other day we studied the punishments meted out by God to Eli, Hophni, Phinehas and their descendants for their abhorrent behavior in the tabernacle.

Since these actual judgments were not going to happen for many years, God gave Eli a sign that He meant business. It would be easy for Eli to assume God was bluffing if he didn’t see these things come true in the near future – as many God-doubters do today. So God gave Eli a sign to prove He was serious.

That sign would be that both Hophni and Phinehas would die on the same day. It would be unusual for two siblings to die on the same day, unless they were involved in some accident or event. They likely wouldn’t die at the same time from natural causes. Their simultaneous deaths would prove to Eli that everything else God said would come true.

Furthermore, God would raise up a faithful priest for Himself who would do according to what is in His heart and mind.

Notice that God’s plans are never neglected or set aside, even when those He calls on to carry them out are unfaithful. God may reject the unfaithful worker, as he did with Eli and his sons. But He will never allow the work to do go undone.

God’s plans will be carried out. He will find someone who wants to serve Him, although as time goes on the number of people God has to choose from will dwindle.

But not only does God work through people, He works with people. We do some of the work and God does some of the work. In this passage we see that God’s role in this will be to build a sure (i.e. permanent) house for His priest. And that priest shall go in and out (i.e. serve) before God’s anointed forever.

In human terms, God’s anointed are His kings. At this time Israel did not yet have a king. But as we’ll see later in our study of 1 Samuel, Israel will want a king and God will give them one. Israel will have a series of kings until the time they are conquered and exiled off their land.

In a sense today’s prophetic passage was fulfilled in Samuel because he will function as a priest before the first kings of Israel after Eli is dead. It was also fulfilled in Zadok, in the days of Solomon, because he replaced one of Eli’s descendants as the official priest [1 Kings 5:27]. From that point on, no one from Eli’s family ever served as a priest again.

But ultimately, this was fulfilled in Jesus because He is a priest forever [Hebrews 7:12-17]. Jesus is also God’s permanent and final king over mankind. This is doubtless seen in the use of the term Hebrew word “מָשִׁיחַ” (translated here as “anointed“).

This introduces us to the biblical concept of “double fulfillment” when it comes to prophecy. Often, a prophetic statement, such as today’s passage would be fulfilled twice. The first time would be in the not-to-distant future, relative to the time it was delivered. But there would also be a second, and greater, fulfillment sometime in the distant future.

Prophecies that are doubly fulfilled are almost always ultimately fulfilled by Jesus with the first fulfillment – a human – being a symbolic pointer to Jesus.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Live A Life That Brings Honor To God


27 And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36 And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”
(1 Samuel 2:27-36)


Yesterday we studied how God had originally promised Eli that his family line would serve God forever but due to the sinful behavior of Eli and his sons, God was removing that privilege because their service failed to honor Him.

This isn’t any different from our modern-day employment arrangements. If any one of us were to get hired by a company we could work there as long as we wanted (assuming no economic or financial difficulties that would result in our being laid off). As long as our service to our employer met or exceeded expectations, we could have that job forever.

However, if our actions hurt our employer we could be, if those actions were serious enough, fired and rightfully so. An employee who embezzles money from a company forfeits her right to work at that company. An employee who does a poor job should lose his job. We accept such things in our culture.

God works the same way. He will honor those who honor Him. But those who despise Him will be lightly esteemed.

Hophni and Phinehas brought dishonor to God. In fact, they didn’t even know the Lord. Their actions demonstrated that they cared nothing for Him. As such, God did not honor them.

The dictionary definition of the verb “to honor” is “to regard with great respect”. To honor God means we respect Him – we treat Him not only well, but better than ourselves. We sacrifice our own desires for the sake of His.

The true story of Olympian Eric Liddell makes this point. At the 1924 Olympics in Paris, Liddell – a devout Christian – withdrew from his best event, the 100 meters, because it was to be run on a Sunday. Instead, he ran in the 400 meters, a race in which he had only recorded mediocre results.

On the morning of the 400-meters race Liddell was handed a note containing a reference to 1 Samuel 2:30. Buoyed by this encouragement, Liddell went on to not only win the race, but he set a world record in the event. His story was made into an Academy-Award winning movie, Chariots of Fire.

There are many ways we can honor God. We honor God by giving Him our money [Proverbs 3:9]. We honor God by being sexually pure [1 Corinthians 6:18–20]. We honor God by serving Him [John 12:26]. And we honor God by keeping His sabbath as Eric Liddell did [Isaiah 58:13].

But we must be careful not to simply honor God with our words without backing up those words with actions. God isn’t interested in pretenses. God wants our hearts [Isaiah 29:13].

A pastor at a church I used to attend put it this way: “Would you want your actions posted on the front page of the newspaper?”. That was a long time ago when people still read newspapers. Today, we’d ask if we’d want our actions posted on Facebook or Twitter.

The best way to go through life is to do all for the glory of God [2 Corinthians 5:9]. When we’re tempted to sleep with our boyfriend or girlfriend we should first ask ourselves if our behavior will bring honor to God. When we’re tempted to pad our timesheet at work, we should first ask ourselves if our behavior will honor God.

If it won’t then we shouldn’t do it.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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True Justice Demands Accountability


27 And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36 And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”
(1 Samuel 2:27-36)


Today we continue reading about the judgment God brought against Eli and his sons for their blatant sin. Yesterday we saw that God held Eli culpable even though it was primarily the actions of his sons that were in question. Today we’ll read about the actions God is going to take.

As a result of the behavior of Eli and his sons, God took away the privilege Eli’s family had in serving Him. This came true years later when Abiathar, from Eli’s family, was deposed as high priest and was replaced by Zadok who was from another family [1 Kings 2:26-27].

God also punished the descendants of Eli by not giving them long life (there will not be an old man in your house). This was done to reduce the influence (strength) of this family line. It is a blessing to have influence. But having influence is a great responsibility.

Having shown that they could not handle the responsibility they had been given as priests in the tabernacle, the descendants of Hophni and Phinehas would not be given any further responsibility. They would no longer be leaders.

Everyone left in Eli’s house would end up being very poor – begging for a morsel of bread – while in distress they enviously looked on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed upon Israel. God was going to bless Israel immensely. In a few generations, Israel would be incredibly wealthy and powerful. But Eli’s family would not participate.

Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas took more than they deserved. And they took it illegally. Sadly, but justifiably, as a result, their descendants would have less than they needed and would be reduced to begging.

When we die all of us will have to give an account to God for each and every of our actions, thoughts, and intentions [Romans 14:12]. And while we’re still on this earth, we should not be surprised if God arranges events to discipline us and future generations as a result of our behavior. This is precisely what happened to Adam and Eve [Genesis 3:16-18]. And this what happened to Eli.

Actions have consequences. Not just for ourselves, but also for our children and their children. We live in a world where people think that they can do whatever they want without being concerned about being held accountable. But this is one of the biggest lies the world has ever told itself.

While some (maybe even most) people may look the other way at their fellow human beings’ bad behavior in the name of “tolerance”, God does not. If He did He wouldn’t be just. Too many people don’t want to accept the concept of a God who metes out punishment for sin. They think a truly loving God wouldn’t punish bad behavior. But such thinking makes no sense.

True justice always commands accountability. Tolerating sin is not justice. It is sin’s accomplice.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Holds Fathers Responsible For Their Children’s Behavior


27 And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36 And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”
(1 Samuel 2:27-36)


In today’s passage a man of God comes to Eli to speak with him and pronounce God’s judgment on him. We don’t know who this man was. Whoever he was he was sent by God to deliver His message (as noted by his words “thus says the Lord“) to Eli.

God uses people to reveal Himself to other people. He does this throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament with the many prophets He sent. Samuel will be the first of these prophets.

In this case God’s message to Eli started with review of how Eli came to be the high priest in the first place. It came about because God made it happen. God revealed Himself to the house (ancestors) of Eli’s father (Aaron) when they (all the Israelites including Eli’s ancestors) were in Egypt being treated like slaves by Pharaoh. Out of all the tribes of Israel, God chose Aaron and his descendants to be His priest.

Being a priest in the tabernacle (and later the Temple) was a great honor and should have been seen as such by Eli and his sons. God could have chosen any of the families in Israel for this important work. But Eli did not treat his position with honor. He let it be ruined by the behavior of his sons.

Eli scorned God’s sacrifices and offerings. Even worse, Eli honored his sons above God by fattening himself on the choicest parts of every offering. The choicest parts of each sacrifice (e.g. the fat) was to be dedicated to God by being burnt. But Eli and his sons took it for themselves.

Notice a couple of things here. First, God knows exactly what is going on. He sees everything and knows every intention. The manner in which Eli’s sons took the meat appeared to be random [1 Samuel 2:13-14], but God knew otherwise. There was nothing random about it. It was designed to provide Hophni and Phinehas with that which belonged to God. Second, even though Eli was not the one taking the meat, he apparently benefitted from his son’s actions. It wasn’t just Hophni and Phinehas who enjoyed the choicest parts; Eli enjoyed them too.

God doesn’t like it when people abuse the blessings He gives them. Doing so will always lead to loss of reward, as we’ll see tomorrow. He especially doesn’t like it when people who are supposed to be leading people to Him through their service end up leading people away from Him. Such people (e.g. Catholic priests) will suffer the consequences of their actions either here on this earth or in eternity (or perhaps both).

Notice also that even though Eli was not the one who was primarily disobeying God, he was held responsible. This is consistent with how God works.

It was Eve who first disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit. Yet it was Adam God held responsible [Genesis 3:9-11]. Fathers/husbands are commanded by God to be the leaders of their family [Ephesians 5:23, 6:4]. They are responsible for the actions of their wives and children and for how closely (or distant) those family members are from God. Hophni and Phinehas sinned badly and were certainly responsible for their behavior.

But as their father (not to mention their boss in the tabernacle), so was Eli.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God May Eliminate Those Who Lead Others From Him


22 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 26 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death. 26 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.
(1 Samuel 2:22-26)


Yesterday we read about Eli and his poor parenting skills and how he let his sons continue sinning rather than disciplining them. Eli did nothing but talk to his sons, and they would not listen to him. But in our study yesterday we skipped over a phrase that confuses and concerns many people. Today we’ll address that phrase.

The writer of this passage in 1 Samuel (who very well may be Samuel himself) tells us that Hophni and Phinehas would not listen to their father for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.

Many people read this verse – especially Bible critics – and conclude that God controlled Hophni and Phinehas’ attitude because He wanted – for some unstated reason – to put them to death. They think that God capriciously decided to kill Hophni and Phinehas because that is just how God is – arbitrary and evil. But this is not the case.

By this point Hophni and Phinehas’ behavior had been going on for some time [1 Samuel 2:22]. It’s hard to believe that these men did not know that their behavior was wrong. After all, their father was the high priest and they were working in the tabernacle – the very home of God. They certainly could not claim ignorance.

Further, their behavior was affecting all Israel [1 Samuel 2:22] and was damaging Israel’s reputation with neighboring countries [1 Samuel 2:24]. People were starting to disrespect and scorn God and His commands because of the corrupt action of these men [1 Samuel 2:17].

It is not God’s desire for anyone to perish [2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4]. God created every single person for the purpose of spending eternity with Him. But God has also allowed everyone the freedom and ability to chose for themselves whether they will take Him up on His offer [Joshua 24:15; Revelation 3:20]. He will not force Himself upon anyone.

Long before Eli rebuked them, Hophni and Phinehas decided they were not interested in God. They decided they were interested in temporary, earthly pleasures like food and sex [1 Samuel 2:12-16, 22]. That was their choice and God let them make it.

But, their behavior was leading people away from God. And this is not something God has ever – or will ever – take lightly. Hophni and Phinehas were affecting people who wanted to worship God (the women who came to the tabernacle) and those who did not yet know God (the countries neighboring Israel). They weren’t going to change. So they had to be eliminated before their ungodly influence spread.

God did the very same thing in the New Testament with Ananias and his wife Sapphira whose sinful behavior had the potential to mislead others and destroy their small community [Acts 5:1-11].

God is not unfair. He gave Hophni and Phinehas decades of life (they were likely already into their forties) during which time they could have chosen to believe in Him. But they didn’t. God knows the future [Isaiah 46:10]. God knew they were never going to believe. That was their choice. But if they continued to live they would have influenced others to make the same choice. So they had to go.

Getting rid of Hophni and Phinehas – which God will do in the next chapter of 1 Samuel – is not an arbitrary act of hate by a temperamental God towards these two men. It is an act of love and protection towards everyone else who would have been negatively influenced by them.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Blatant Sin Requires A Strong Response


22 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 26 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death. 26 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.
(1 Samuel 2:22-26)


The other day we read about the sinful behavior of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas and how they were using their position for material gain. Today we read that they were also using their position for sexual pleasure in that they would lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

The entrance of the tent of meeting was the place where God met with the high priest as He did with Moses [Exodus 3:9, 29:42]. It was considered a holy place by all the people [Exodus 3:10]. But now, just a few generations after Moses, the entrance had become a different kind of meeting place – a place where Hophni and Phinehas conducted their trysts.

The women referred to here are either women who came to worship at the tabernacle or were women who worked at the tabernacle [Exodus 38:8]. Either way, Hophni and Phinehas were corrupting women who had otherwise good intentions of serving God. These men were sinners who did not know God and they were leading godly people away from God.

Furthermore, we know that Phinehas was married [1 Samuel 4:19]. So his behavior is doubly sinful. Even though he had a wife, that wasn’t enough for him. He committed adultery, a crime punishable by death [Leviticus 20:10].

Notice that Hophni and Phinehas didn’t even do a good job of keeping it secret, as their father, Elikept hearing all that his sons were doing. Eli heard everything. And he heard it over and over.

Even worse, what these men were doing was known outside of Israel (abroad) and was damaging all of Israel’s reputation (it was being done to all Israel). But Eli was very old and didn’t do enough about it.

Eli only rebuked his sons verbally, basically telling them that their behavior was wrong. He even went so far as to inform them that they were sinning against the Lord, hoping to strike some fear into them. But Hophni and Phinehas did not know the Lord [1 Samuel 2:12] – a fact that should have resulted in their dismissal from the tabernacle long before. So Eli’s appeal fell on deaf ears.

While his verbal rebuke wasn’t necessarily wrong, the problem was that Eli took no action to stop the behavior of his sons even though as their father and boss he had the authority to do so. Hophni and Phinehas, who were likely at least 40 years old at this point, would not listen to the voice of their father.

Very rarely will talking stop bad behavior. Most parents learn this early on. It’s easy for children to ignore words. But they will change their behavior if they suffer some kind of loss a result of it.

People will alter their behavior to avoid bad consequences. But they will rarely, if ever, change their behavior (especially sexual behavior, which is often addicting) just to please someone else and certainly not to please a God they don’t believe in.

Contrast Eli’s parenting skills with those of Hannah which we read about the other day. Eli was an ineffective parent who let his sons go on sinning. Hannah, on the other hand, actively developed her son Samuel‘s relationship with God and as a result he continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.

While each child must make his/her own choices, it is their parent’s responsibility to teach them about God when they are young [Proverbs 22:6] and continue to remind them throughout their lives, just like Hannah did with Samuel. Moreover, blatant sin should not be tolerated at any age. A parent is never too old to take their children to task over their behavior.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Will Be A Debtor To No One


21 Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.
(1 Samuel 2:21)


A couple of days ago we read about the corrupt sons of Eli who were serving in the tabernacle. Then yesterday we read how Samuel, who was just a boy at the time, was also serving in the tabernacle. This chapter of 1 Samuel jumps back and forth between the corrupt Hophni and Phinehas and the godly Samuel, juxtaposing their behaviors in alternating passages.

But today’s passage take a bit of an aside to let us know what was going on back in the home of Samuel’s parents.

If we recall, Hannah had been barren for many years. And during that time she was the object of ridicule from her husband’s other wife. She prayed for a son repeatedly but never got pregnant. Hannah’s life was miserable for a long time.

Then she had a realization that she was praying incorrectly. She was praying for God to bless her for the sake of blessing her. Once she realized that God wanted to bless her so that she could be a blessing to others, she promised God that she would give back her son to Him, if He would only allow her to conceive, which she finally did – giving birth to Samuel.

After all those years of disappointment and heartache it would have been easy for Hannah to go back on her promise. She finally had a son and the ridicule from Peninnah had stopped. Life was good and getting better. How difficult it must have been for her to go through with her promise and leave Samuel at the tabernacle after having him in her life for just a few years and to once again be childless.

Hannah demonstrated tremendous devotion to God. For all she knew, Samuel would be her only child. Yet she kept her promise. because she understood God’s purpose for allowing her to give birth to Samuel. And God rewarded her devotion by giving her three more sons and two daughters. Hannah gave up one child and got five more in return. Not a bad return on investment.

Hannah’s obedience resulted in God blessing Hannah and Elkanah with more children. Not to mention, they were the proud parents of Samuel who grew in the presence of the Lord. Samuel was becoming the young man – and eventually adult – that God would use to lead Israel. That in itself was a blessing to Elkanah and Hannah. It is always a blessing to parents to see their children grow up to be successful and especially to serve God loyally.

Our God is a generous God. He often gives to us without our even asking or knowing that we need what He is giving as was the case when He gave Jesus to the world [John 3:16].

But when we give to Him He gives us back much more in return [Job 42:10; Mark 10:29-30]. We can never give more to God than He gives back to us. God will be a debtor to no one.

Therefore we should never hoard God’s blessing to us. God gives us gifts so that we can use them not on ourselves but on others. Whatever God gives us – be it children, or money, or talent – we should give these things back to Him. Then watch as He gives us even more in return for our devotion to Him.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Parents Can Influence Their Children After They’ve Left Home


18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. 19 And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.” So then they would return to their home.
(1 Samuel 2:18-20)


In contrast to the sons of Eli, who we read about yesterdaySamuel was ministering before the Lord. Eli’s sons did not know the Lord [1 Samuel 2:12]. But Samuel, who was just a boy, did. Samuel was in the tabernacle because God wanted him there. God needed someone who believed in Him and who was dedicated to Him to serve in the tabernacle. Despite his young age and inexperience, God chose Samuel to be that person.

Here we see that God can use anyone. We don’t have to be experienced. We don’t have to be knowledgable. Samuel had no experience and very little knowledge when he started serving in the tabernacle. All we have to be is available and dedicated. God will teach us all we need to know, as we’ll see Him do with Samuel in the upcoming passages.

Also note that Samuel was well below the minimum age of twenty-five required to serve in the tabernacle [Numbers 8:24]. Nevertheless, he was considered to be on par with the priests who served God as noted by his being clothed with a linen ephod which was an official priestly garment [Exodus 28:2-4]. Even though he was just a boy, he was accepted by God to be one of his priests.

The priests had various duties. They were to maintain and operate the tabernacle [Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 24:1-7; Numbers 18:1-7], including maintaining the altar. They were to remove the ashes after a sacrifice and to keep the sacrificial fire burning [Leviticus 6:8-13]. Although they had other duties as well, such as inspecting various maladies to determine if they were infectious or defiling [Leviticus 13:1-3 et. al] and judging the people [Deuteronomy 17:8-13; 33:8-11], Samuel was certainly much too young and inexperienced for these. His tasks at this point were more menial. 

Notice that even though Samuel was far from home, his mother was still an influence in his life. Each year she would sew a little robe (which was also an official priestly garment) for him. Each year when she sent up with her husband, Elkanah, to offer their yearly sacrifice she would take the robe to Samuel.

Hannah was a dedicated daughter of God who served Him by serving another who served Him. She provided Samuel not only with the clothes he needed but in doing so also provided him with support and encouragement.

Eli noticed and appreciated the support Samuel’s parents gave their son. In return he asked the Lord to bless them and give them additional children. That prayer would soon be answered [1 Samuel 2:21].

It’s easy for children to stray from God when on their own (e.g. college). Even though their children may no longer live a home, parents can, and should, continue to influence their lives. This is what Elkanah and Hannah did and for that they were blessed.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Sincerity Is The Strongest Argument For What One Claims To Believe


11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest. 12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 13 The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” 16 And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.
(1 Samuel 2:11-17)


After traveling to Shiloh, Elkanah (and his family, including Hannah) then went home to Ramah, leaving Samuel behind where he was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.

Today’s passage introduces us to the sons of Eli and some of what was going on at the tabernacle at this time. It wasn’t good. This was a time when the nation of Israel was very corrupt with everyone doing whatever they wanted [Judges 21:25]. People were not following God. Sadly, this was true even in God’s house.

The sons of Eli were worthless men. And even though they worked in tabernacle serving God they did not know the Lord. Eli’s sons functioned in an official capacity in the tabernacle and were in line to succeed their father. But they were corrupt. That is why God needed someone to replace them. And that is why Samuel, although just a boy at this point, was brought to the tabernacle.

Just because someone holds a holy place within a church does not mean they have a relationship with the one true God. We see a good example of this within the Catholic church. Many priests, who speak holy words and dress in priestly garb, seem to be men of God. But their actions in private are unspeakable and betray their spiritual claims.

It is not what one says or wears on the outside that matters. What matters is what is in our heart. Anyone can fake spirituality and fool the people. But God knows our hearts [Jeremiah 17:10; Matthew 6:4; 1 Corinthians 2:11]. But in the case of Eli’s sons, they weren’t even trying to keep their behavior secret.

Once of the functions of the priests was to receive a peace offering from the people. God had spelled out the exact manner in which this offering was to be conducted including which portions of the sacrificed animal were to be given to Him and to the priests [Leviticus 7:28-36]. But this is not how Eli’s sons conducted the peace offering.

They took whatever pieces of meat they wanted even though they tried to make it seem like it was a random result of the three-pronged fork being thrust into the pot. Nor would they accept boiled meat. They wanted only raw meat presumably so they could prepare it anyway they liked (or maybe sell it as raw meat would have more value than cooked).

The fat of the sacrificed animal was considered the choicest part and as such was to offered up to God by being burned. But Eli’s sons would not allow this. They even wanted this portion of the animal – a portion that belonged to God.

Notice that if the people tried to make a deal with Eli’s sons by offering them as much meat as they wanted in exchange for offering the fat to God, they (the sons) would get angry and violent, taking it by force if necessary. Even if the people wanted to honor God, Eli’s sons would not allow it. That’s as bad as it gets.

But as bad as their selfish and ungodly behavior was, it was the result of their behavior that was more troubling: the people treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.

The behavior of Eli’s sons affected the relationship the people had with God. People started having contempt for God’s commands because they were being hurt by them and by the very ones who were supposed to administer them.

When professing Christians sin they can lead others away from God. People who teach morality must themselves be moral. A sincerely lived life is just as much of an argument for what one believes as are words to the same effect. In fact, it is likely a more powerful argument. Anyone can claim to believe God. But the proof is in the lifestyle that accompanies those words.

Nowhere is this more true than those who serve God in an official capacity.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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