Call to Worship March 28 2021
Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 2:11-36
These passages reveal the justice and faithfulness of God amid all the circumstances of life. Also, they contrast the ideas of trust, obedience, and blessing with unbelief, disobedience, and judgement. Furthermore these verses tell of the consequences of sin in an immediate and future context. Eli’s sons were thoughtless unbelieving men (vs. 12), and even worse, they sowed their seeds of evil as priests on behalf of Israel before the one living holy God. Hophni and Phinehas took advantage of their office and its blessings (13-16). They were not only irreverent as priests, but their sinfulness was open and without shame. They turned the house of God into a house of ill repute (22). Their leadership in worship was a mockery of God, as it is written, “the men despised the offering of the Lord” (17).
Although Eli was a believer and had been faithful in many ways, he had been disobedient concerning the discipline of his sons and the discipline of God’s people. Eli knew of his sons’ irreverence and open sinfulness. It had been reported to him by the people. He confronted his sons, but there was no correction on behalf of the people of God and in honor to the LORD (vs 22-25). “In any case,” as D.R. Davis contends, “he had taken no action to expel Hophni and Phinehas from the priestly office. Eli might protest, but his sons suffered no unemployment. There was no church discipline” (Dale Ralph Davis, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart, [Christian Focus Pub., 2014], pg. 35). So Eli allowed his sons to serve as priests although their actions were not only harmful to the faithfulness of the people of Israel, but were an open affront to the worship and being of God.
Therefore, Eli was confronted by God’s man and judgment was rendered by God Himself. The man is not identified by any specific information, but his message was clear. God was displeased with Eli and his sons. Hophni and Phinehas suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness and God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts’ impurity (Rom. 1:18-32). Verse 25 is difficult, but necessary for us to understand that God will judge sinners in his perfect wrath. Yes, God had left these men to themselves in sinful being and to their own sinful devices. So we are reminded that apart from the purpose and grace of God no person can rightly desire and live in holiness before God. That which God desired in holiness He prophesied through His servant and carried out in time.
The prophecy declares the more immediate judgment on the family of Eli and the future consequences for subsequent generations of his family. We are reminded that our sin may have more direct consequences, but may also effect many others around us and even future generations in ways we do not understand. Over a period of generations in the line of Eli men would die in their prime. Each family seeing the judgment of God played out with family members left in the wake of these consequences. Often we look at our sin only with the consequences in front of us without recognizing its effects on others and maybe future generations. For instance, a person who is a chronic liar does not realize the damage done to those around them over time and to the bad name they will leave their family. Children may not be able to trust others or maybe not even trust God.
There was a successful man in life who had a young family, but he became a barely functioning drunk. One day he disappeared for almost two years. During that time he sobered up and had been converted by God’s grace through Christ alone. Yet, by the time he was sober and converted seeking to live according to the commands of God in Christ, his son had grown up and was a young man. Although the father lived the rest of his life seeking to follow Christ, even becoming a faithful minister of the gospel, his son never repented and believed. The son lived a decent hardworking life, but was untrusting, alcohol dependent, and a difficult husband and father. Undoubtedly the eldest man may not be blamed for all of the choices of the son, but the eldest man must have known the example of sin he set before his child certainly did not encourage faithfulness to the Lord or love for his fellow man. Remember, all of our sin has its consequences now and in the future.
Yet, in the midst of all the sinful distress and judgement of God during the time of Eli’s sons, God continued to show His faithfulness. Hannah had trusted God for a son. Elkanah and Hannah trusted God with their son and they believed God would take care of them no matter the future circumstances. They had no idea after Samuel was presented to the Lord that He would bless them over the years with three sons and two daughters. So God used Hannah as a means to show His work in the life of one of His people. Furthermore, Samuel is periodically mentioned in these passages serving the Lord in the background of all the tumult of Hophni and Phinehas (2:11, 18-21, 26, 3:1a). So the immediate service of God’s people through his servants will not decline, but only grow as Samuel will become a faithful leader on behalf of the LORD. God would end the work of Eli’s sons as priests, but the future line of Zadok as priest encouraged the people of God for many generations to come (2 Samuel 20:25, 1 Kings 2:26-27, 35, Ezekiel 40:46, 43:19, 44:15, 48:11). God may not reveal all of His plan to us, but we may rest assured that His plan will include appropriate righteous judgment and faithfulness to supply the physical and spiritual needs of His people.
Last, but not least, the far future idea of verse 35 has eternal implications. “But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always (1 Sam. 2:35).” The last phrase indicates a present and more near future concern (that is why the Line of Zadok was mentioned above), but something must be said about a far future High Priest. It is the Lord Jesus who is the one and only High Priest who does all the will of God the Father. He walked in accordance of all the desires and commands of God. So we trust that the God of creation and providence provided for the priestly worship needs of Israel for many generations. When Christ came He fulfilled all the work of the priest through His life and work. He intercedes on behalf of His people from the past, those in the present and future forever more. Soli Deo Gloria!