Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, January 13, 2012

Gleanings in 1 Samuel [4]

Two Families Contrasted [2:12-36]

The book of 1 Samuel takes place during the time of the Judges. It was a spiritually dark time in Israel's history because the people were not committed to the Lord and allowed themselves to be compromised by the surrounding pagan culture. Apostasy abounded as a result. However, there were bright spots. Hannah's faith in Yahweh being a prime example.

Hannah was childless. In Israel at the time, her condition could be understood as divine judgment against the individual. Hannah brings her trial to the Lord, prays to Him to give her a child that she in turn will give back to Him for service. God answered her prayer, and from this humble woman, Samuel is raised up to become a nationally recognized prophet for God.

After her prayer we are told in verse 11 how she leaves a young Samuel at the Tabernacle where he "ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest."

Verse 12 introduces us to the major contrast between Eli's house and Elkanah's, Samuel's father, house. Whereas Elkanah's house is blessed of the Lord, we see Eli's house coming under God's severe judgment.

I. Parental Ineptitude [12]

The text reveals that Eli's two sons, Hophi and Phinehas, were corrupt. Literally, the description is "sons of Belial." They were wicked good for nothings as will be explained as the narrative unfolds. The idea of being a "sons of Belial," speaks to Eli's character with parenting, or better, lack of parenting. He essentially allowed his sons to run riot with corrupting the people of God.

Even though his two sons bear the responsibility for their wicked actions, Eli is also responsible for not moving against them as both their father, and as the high priest.

II. Priestly Corruption [13-17; 22-25]

The corruption of Hophni and Phinehas is revealed in their roles as "ministers." When people came forth to offer their sacrifices as prescribed in Leviticus 10:14, 15, they would send their servant to get the best portion (the portion meant to be given to the Lord) for their consumption.

The law was explicit in that they were required to burn off the fat of the animal when it was offered (Leviticus 7:22-25), yet they threatened with violence those worshipers who refused them (2:16). It got to the point where the people despised the sacrifice, because it would be pointless to bring it if a couple of corrupt priests refused to do the ceremony properly.

Additionally, we are told in 2:22 that Eli's two sons would commit sexual sin with the women who came to the tabernacle.

In all of this, Eli lightly rebuked them for their behavior (2:23). What they did was worthy of strict judgment, even death, but Eli really did nothing. One interesting editorial footnote says in 2:25 that Eli's two sons "did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them." If Eli would not move, God would, and He does.

Now, contrast this spiritually dysfunctional house with Samuel's ministry (2:18-21):

- Samuel ministered before the LORD - unlike Eli's sons who abused their office with corruption.
- God blessed Hannah with more children besides Samuel, five in all, three sons and two daughters.
- Samuel grew in favor with both God and men, whereas Eli's two sons are said to have not known the LORD.

III. Prophetic Judgment [27-36]

At last God proclaims his judgment against Eli and his two sons through the ministry of an unnamed "man of God." The judgment against Eli is outlined in four major points:

- Squandered his special calling as a high priest, an office he should have held in high honor
- Held the sacrifices he offered in contempt, "kick at my sacrifices."
- Honored his sons more than God, allowing them to get away with their sin.
- Eli benefited from their corruption of the sacrifices by taking the best of the offering.

Because of this, Eli and his house is to be cut-off. In other words, his house, his family linage, will no longer serve as priests.

This is a interesting prophecy, because it sets in motion the fulfillment of a previous prophecy made to Phinehas, Aaron's grandson in Numbers 25, who stood up against unrighteousness by executing an apostate Israelite who brazenly brought a pagan woman to the tabernacle. According to the Lord's word to Moses, He was going to make Eleazar's house, Phinehas's father, the family of Levites who would supply the priests who serve in the Tabernacle.

When learn from 1 Kings 2:26-27, 35, that God fulfills his words to Eli, removing his descendant, Abiathar from being high priest and putting in his place, Zadok. Thus, the priestly line of Ithamar, that had taken over the roll as high priest in the past at one point, is removed, and the priestly line of Eleazar is reinstated and established with supplying the high priests.



Blogger Pastor Howard Brown said...

Eli was not the last believing leader who squandered a calling. 1 Cor. 9: 27. a sober reminder, but also an encouragement to remain steadfast and to esteem the Lord and a place of service above personal comfort or family loyalty. A failure to confront sin when mandated by scripture is frequently fueled by a superior love of either my personal comfort, peace, or popularity over my love of the Lord.
By the way, 1 Cor 9: 27 KJV says "I buffet my body". In light of your post on Jan. 10, should "buffet" be pronounced to rhyme with "duvet"? I know a great all-you-can-eat prime rib buffet!

10:31 AM, January 14, 2012  

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