Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
1 Samuel 2:22-25 (NIV)
Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good. If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.
1 Samuel 2:22-26 (MSG)
By this time Eli was very old. He kept getting reports on how his sons were ripping off the people and sleeping with the women who helped out at the sanctuary. Eli took them to task: “What’s going on here? Why are you doing these things? I hear story after story of your corrupt and evil carrying on. Oh, my sons, this is not right! These are terrible reports I’m getting, stories spreading right and left among God’s people! If you sin against another person, there’s help—God’s help. But if you sin against God, who is around to help? But they were far gone in disobedience and refused to listen to a thing their father said. So God, who was fed up with them, decreed their death. But the boy Samuel was very much alive, growing up, blessed by God and popular with the people.”
“Now Eli was very old; and he heard about everything that his sons were doing to all [the people of] Israel, and how they were lying with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle). Eli said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? No, my sons; for the report that I keep hearing from the passers-by among the Lord’s people is not good. If one man does wrong and sins against another, God will intercede (arbitrate) for him; but if a man does wrong to the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to their father, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.” -AMPLIFIED
The contrast between little Samuel and Eli’s sons was great. Samuel was dedicated and devoted to the Lord; whereas Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons, were not.
Hophni and Phinehas seemed to go out of their way to offend. Scripture tells us, “The sons of Eli [Hophni and Phinehas] were worthless (dishonorable, unprincipled) men; they did not know [nor respect] the Lord and the custom of the priests with [the sacrifices of] the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged [meat] fork in his hand; then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; everything that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did in Shiloh to all [the sacrifices of] the Israelites who came there. Also, before they burned (offered) the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat to roast, since he will not accept boiled meat from you, only raw.” If the man said to him, “Certainly they are to burn (offer) the fat first, and then you may take as much as you want,” then the priest’s servant would say, “No! You shall give it to me now or I will take it by force.” So the sin of the [two] young men [Hophni and Phinehas] was very great before the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord disrespectfully.” -1 Samuel 2:12-17 (AMP)
As priests Hophni and Phinehas had been consecrated and set-aside as holy unto God; yet their very lifestyles went against everything that God represented. These guys were immoral, thieves, disrespectful, rebellious, and disobedient; just to name a few of their sins. Sadly, Dad did little to teach them; especially when it came to consequences for their actions; at least not until he was quite old.
One day he finally had his fill of their arrogance and sinfulness; and he had a few words with them. “Why do you do such horrible things? The people have told me about all the evil you have done. No, my sons, I do not hear good words spoken about you by the people of the Eternal. If one person offends another, [at least someone can plead with the True God on the sinner’s behalf]. But if someone offends the Eternal One, then who will plead for that person?” -1 Samuel 2:23-25 (VOICE)
Sadly, Eli’s rebuke to his sons was too little, too late. The Amplified Version has this footnote for verse 25, “Sometimes, when a person has deliberately and repeatedly violated God’s law, God may allow him to be even more determined to continue his sinful ways.”
The Psalmist reminds us that God will often allow us to continue in our sin because of our stubbornness. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. But My people would not listen to My voice, and Israel did not [consent to] obey Me. So I gave them up to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in [the path of] their own counsel. Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!” -Psalm 81:10-13 (AMP)
Eli’s failure to retrain his children allowed them to continue in their sin. This affected not only themselves, but all of Israel. All of this is a reminder to us of the importance of training our children to follow the Lord at a young age. “Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], even when he is old he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6 (AMP)
Lord, help me not to turn a blind eye to sin; ever. Especially when it comes to my own children or the children that you have placed in my care. Raising a child is a great responsibility; particularly when teaching them to walk in the ways of the Lord. Give me the wisdom I need to guide them in your ways. Give me the backbone I need to correct them when they are wrong. Help me to raise these children to be Lovers of the Most High God; Representatives for You!