1 Samuel 2:27-36
27And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”
We have learned of the ungodly, even unbelieving sons of Eli, who desecrate the Lord’s house and harm His people with their sinful ways. Now the Lord sends a man of God to declare the His judgment upon the house of Eli. This pronouncement goes deep into Jewish history and spreads into the eternal future.
The prophet then transitions to Eli’s abuse of the priestly office: he honored his sons more than he honored God because under Eli’s supervision his sons grew fat on the best portions of the offerings. The man of God next quotes Yahweh’s promise that Aaron’s house would serve God forever. But now God is abrogating that pledge because he will honor only those who honor him, a principle enunciated in formulaic language elsewhere. Eli and his sons had despised God by showing disrespect for the holy offerings.
Steinmann, A. E. ©2016. 1 Samuel. (p. 103). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.
In the immediate, this judgment hits Eli and his sons personally. The two evil brothers will die – on the same day – in the not too distant future. Eli will be the last old man in his family to die the priesthood. (One of Eli’s descendants does live into old age, but is removed from the priesthood far before he dies.) And, as we will see in the weeks ahead, Eli’s line dies out entirely. But the prophecy goes even deeper than the family of Eli. Verse 35 declares the final outcome of this pronouncement – and in that judgment we find the Gospel, albeit slightly tough to see.
35And I will raise up for myself a faithful Priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build Him a sure house, and He shall go in and out before my Anointed forever.
Ultimately, God will remove the priesthood from the line of Aaron, brother of Moses and the first in the line of priests descended from Levi. That work will take hundreds of years, but it begins here with Eli and his sons. The final Priest, the One who serves in the order of Melchizedek, will be Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He will be the final Priest who makes the perfect and final sacrifice for us. He will not sin or desecrate the house of the Lord. He will not seek to serve Himself rather than God’s people. He will be the One who saves us from our sin.