They Suffered by Comparison
1 Samuel 2:12-21
12Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 13The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” 16And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.
18Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. 19And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.” So then they would return to their home. 21Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.
The news has been filled in recent years with stories of men in the clergy who have lived disgracefully, causing harm rather than serving the Lord. Nothing is new under the sun. Sin is sin and has been with us since the Fall.
Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, are called “worthless men”. The literal translation says “good-for-nothing”. There are two reasons they are called this; they were unbelieving, and they disrespected the offering to Yahweh. Not only did they disrespect the offering made to God, they involved their servants in the sin as well. Inviting (or maybe in this case demanding) others to participate in sin with us is reprehensible in the eyes of God.
In light of recent event surrounding abortion in our nation, I am moved to consider this a similar sin. I am heartbroken to live in a culture of death. That we look at this topic as one of “choice” rather than morality is shocking and shameful. And I’m deeply saddened to be a part of it through my tax dollars. I beg God’s forgiveness and ask His mercy upon our sin as a nation. How can we ask for God’s blessing in one breath and turn a blind eye to such sin in the next? I don’t know. Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.
These two priests have no belief in God and drag others with them into unbelief. By comparison, we find the young child, Samuel, who is serving before the Lord. Levites did not typically begin service to the Lord until the age of 25 (or 30) so Samuel is indeed unique. And he stands as a stark reminder to every one of the debaucheries of these two men. And yet Samuel does not waver, and he has the full support of his parents. It does pull at the heartstrings a little when we read of Hannah making him a new robe each year as she supports her decision to let Samuel serve in the temple. And we learn that God blesses Hannah with five more children! His faithfulness knows no bounds.
We are not yet done with Hophni and Phineas. For now, suffice it to say, they do not end well.