THE BOOK OF 1 SAMUEL

The outcome of dishonoring God

1 Samuel 2 SCC 9/28/14

 

The Faithful and Devout remember to always praise the Lord for who He is 1-10

1. In this prayer, which contains no petition, Hannah articulated her belief that God rewards trust with blessing. He turns barrenness into fertility, not just in her case but universally.

2. Hannah praised God because He had provided salvation for His people v 1-2. She had learned that God will humble people who view themselves as self-sufficient v 3-4 but He will help those who cast themselves on Him, asking Him to provide what they need v 5-8. Therefore the godly and the wicked will experience vastly different fates v 9-10.

3. God will selectively favor people who want to further His program in the world by making it possible for them to do that. He may even do supernatural things to enable them to do so. Natural limitations do not limit God. Knowledge of what God has revealed about Himself and His program is what God uses to inspire trust in Himself and interest in His program. God may even reverse the fortunes of people in response to their response to His will.

4. If in contrast to Hannah, Eli appeared profane and inept while Hannah was strong and faithful, now in contrast to his sons he comes across as weak while they are wicked.  And their wickedness was due in large part to his weakness as well as lack of perception v 11

 

PEOPLE CAN USE THEIR SERVICE AS A GUISE TO ONLY SERVE THEMSELVES

The Wickedness of Eliís Sons 12-17

1. The sons, priests themselves, were basically pagans.  The story begins by telling us that they were worthless v 12. We are also told that they did not know the Lord v 12. A stronger statement of their spiritual condition could not be made. They were not only worthless, but they were not even members of the covenant because they had not responded to the word of the Lord by faith.  And yet they were priests!   They had no genuine, personal relationship with the Lord they claimed to serve.

2. It was their custom that while the sacrificial meat was boiling, their servant came with a flesh hook and stuck it into the pot and brought out all the flesh that it could hold v 13-14So the priests took for themselves all the meat that they wanted.  In fact, before they even burned the fat on the altar the servant came and took it.  He would tell them to give the meat to the priest v 15.  If the worshiper responded with a correct understanding of the way the sacrificial ritual was to work, the servant would take it by force and give it to the sonís v 16

3. The abuse of these priests is clear v 17.  The priestís portion was to be the leg and the breast for the heave and wave offerings.  The fat was the best part and was to be burned on the altar to the Lord.  The fat and the blood, had to go the Lord first.  The priests could never take from the portions that belonged to the Lord.  But these men were taking what was Godís for themselves--and sometimes by force.  They were violating the laws of the sacrifice to satisfy their own greed. 

NB: And they were not the last to do this; the ministry has been filled with people who seek their own interests before Godís, and corrupt the process of worship for many otherwise devout people. 

 

SELF SERVING SPIRITUAL LEADERS PERPETUATE THEIR CORRUPT SERVICE

The Weakness of Eli 22-26

There is a short passage on the blessing of Samuel by Eli v 18-21

First, it offers a clear glimpse of the growth of Samuel, Godís selection, as he ministered before Lord. 

Second, it offers a glimpse of the devotion of a pious mother rewarded for lending her child to the Lord.

Third, it gives a favorable glimpse of Eli--this is his finest hour who blesses the family v 20.

The Report:  Then we read the account of Eliís confrontation with his sons.  All that can be said well of Eli is that it was too little, too late.  Two sins are recorded here. First, old Eli heard what his sons were doing v 22. This must refer to the sacrifices, how they took the fat and the raw meat for themselves.  Second, he heard how they lay with the women at the door of the tent of meeting v 22.  These were women who served in some capacity in the sanctuary (Exod. 38:8). The sons had sexual intercourse with them--there in the entrance of the Tabernacle.  The spiritual surrounding and the openness of the sin made the whole thing particularly evil. All the people saw it; and Eli heard about it. 

NB: The story is so real that it fails to shock us any more.  Many modern religious people could very well identify with the wickedness given here, or at least with the tolerance of it by the people and by the headman.  Modern scandals of the clergy in various denominations have almost reached these levels.

The Rebuke:  Eliís rebuke comes in three parts. 

First, there is an opening rhetorical question designed to rebuke them Why do you do these thing v 23.  If Eli had actually been looking for an answer he might not have liked what they would have said.  God will blame him. The question is late in the story, and without force.

Second, without their answering Eli makes an observation: No, my sons, for the report I hear is not good, making the people transgress v 24.  The major difficulty with the corruption of the priests is effect itís effect on the people and their service of GodThe people would see their spiritual leaders violating Godís laws, and would feel free to do the same.  And all Eli could say was, No my sons, it is not good

Third, he bases his response on a principle that if a man sins against another man, God will arbitrate but if a man sins against the Lord--who will pray for him?  The tragic thing is that from the beginning of their ministry the truth of this message was not being taught to them properly.  Now it was too late, for the priests themselves needed prayer to escape the judgment of God.  

The Response: The text reports their indifference.  But they did not listen to the voice of their father v 25. Eliís rebuke fell on deaf ears.  They were so involved in their lifestyle that mere words at this stage would not change them.  But the writer adds an additional explanation: they did not respond because the Lord was of a mind to kill themHere is a case where the men had missed their opportunity to call on the Lord when he could be found.  Now they were judicially hardened so that they could not and would not because they were now under the sentence of death by God. The section closes with a note about Samuel. He grew and increased in the favor of the Lord and man v 26.  

NB: The warning is clear for all that when the Spirit of God convicts you of sin you better respond correctly, for there may be a time when God will leave you to your own devices to self-destruct.  God cannot be trifled with.  Eliís rebuke is correct but it came too late and when it came it was very weak. 

 

GOD MAY REMOVE CORRUPT SELF SERVING SPIRITUAL LEADERS FROM THEIR SERVICE

The Charges against Eli

1. Suddenly, a man of God appeared on the scene to deliver the word from the Lord to the priest and his family.  This prophet began by rehearsing for Eli the history of the priesthood, more as a reminder than a revelation.  In fact, since Eli probably knew all this, the reminder would be warning enough.

2. According to this prophetís review of the priesthood (2:27, 28), there had been a revelation from God to the father Aaron, there had been the election of Aaron in the redemption from bondage in Egypt, and there had been the selection of Aaron for spiritual service.  These are three principles that are applicable to all who are called by God to serve.  But with the great privileges to serve there are also great responsibilities.  Eli had either forgotten or taken for granted these great privileges.

3. But the charges made against Eli are here two. He trampled the sacrifices under foot, and he honored his sons over God v 29.  The two are inseparably bound together, as effect and cause.  He did these things, the prophet claims, to make himself fat with the best. He himself was greedy and self-serving. And the additional implication is that he honored his sons over God.  He gave more authority, more importance to his sons and what they wished to do, than he did to what God had demanded, and so he was in the process trampling Godís sacrifices under foot.  

NB: Here is the archetypical parent who is slow to see his children doing anything wrong, or slow to correct them, hoping that they will come around.  The child becomes so important in this case that all benefit of the doubt and all authority is given to him, at the expense of God. 

The Judgment on Eli and His House

In the strongest language possible the oracle is introduced to Eli with be it far from me v 30. It announces that what is coming is truly horrible. The principle is God will honor those who honor him, but those who despise him will be cursed (treated lightly).  The curse takes the wording that God would cut off the arm v 31.  The arm was the figure of strength and security. To have the arm cut off figuratively meant that he and his family would be ruined as far as the power and authority they had as priests.  Their ministry was over; and their lives were in danger as well.

In verse 35 God announces that he will raise up a faithful priest (implying much more about Eli), and that he will build him a sure house (dynasty). The word group expresses the confidence and certainty of what is said (like in Jesusí ďtruly, trulyĒ [amen, amen]).  God was looking for a priest he could depend on; and he would make that priest a house or dynasty that was sure, that one could count on.

 

So What?

1. Remember who God is and do not forget that every day of your life. Our tendency will be to forget. Hannah did not. Develop a mindset of devotion to God and His Word.

2. The danger is forgetting God and then corrupting our service. In the end there is no reward for that service no matter how sincere your service. If for you, then you got your reward.

3. Corrupt service is service that can be done without the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit. It only becomes fleshly service that brings no honor to God.