11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” 15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
(1 Samuel 3:11-21)
Yesterday we read how Samuel told Eli the words God had spoke against him (Eli). Today we study Eli’s reaction.
Previously, Eli had received a message from God through a mysterious stranger [1 Samuel 2:27-36]. It seems that message was delivered months or even years before God spoke to Samuel. In that first message, God told Eli that He would bring judgment against Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, for their behavior which they knew was wrong yet engaged in anyway.
It may be that this first message to Eli was a warning and if he and his sons changed their behavior God would spare them. But they did not. The message God spoke to Samuel confirmed His previous message and made it clear that God was no longer willing to wait for Eli to change his own behavior.
For all his faults, Eli was a man of God. He was a man of God who was involved in sinful behavior. Bible critics often want to point to the behavior of professing Christians as “proof” God does not exist. They believe, mistakenly, that someone who is born-again should live a perfect life. But this is not a reasonable conclusion.
All human beings are flawed right from birth. We do things, say things, and think things that are wrong and which go against God’s design for our lives. It is part of our nature. This is how we are [Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10, 23]. We are all no good. We are all inherently evil. This is true of Christians and non-Christians.
The difference between Christians and non-Christians is simply that Christians have come to understand that their behavior is wrong and have believed in God’s plan to forgive our sins through Jesus. We have repented – changed our minds regarding our sinful nature – and now agree with God. As a result, we have eternal life with God in heaven forever [John 3:16].
Sometimes our behavior becomes an addiction, like pornography or drug use. Sometimes we don’t want to change our behavior because it will bring ridicule from family or friends. Eli knew his behavior was wrong. But for whatever reason he was unable or unwilling to stop it.
But notice his reaction when told by young Samuel that the judgment God warned him (Eli) about was definitely coming: he resigned himself to it.
Eli knew that God’s judgment against him was justified. He knew that He is the Lord and he submissively surrenders to God’s decision much like Aaron did when his sons sinned before God [Leviticus 10:3]. Contrast this with Cain who after killing his brother Abel, whined about his punishment being unfair [Genesis 4:13-14].
God is righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works. He is not impatient or impetuous. If anything, God is overly patient – more patient that He should be. Therefore we have no right to complain against Him.
When we receive discipline from God for our sinful behavior we should not whine or grumble. We should quietly and willingly submit to His authority and accept His decision [Micah 7:9].
After all, He loves us immensely and is only trying to get us on the right path [Hebrews 12:7].
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.