I’ve said this in previous Bible studies, God does not have grandchildren.
This means, just because we are Christians, doesn’t automatically make our children become followers of Christ.
They must make a decision to form their own relationship with the Lord.
Why am I restating this? Well, as we will shortly learn from 1 Samuel 2 the children of Eli were not the “perfect” children we would expect.
In fact, they were acorns who fell far away from the tree.
Eli faced unimaginable choices as high priest when the issues concerned his sons. Reality is, we face issues with our children and others in our lives as well. What do we do?
1 Samuel 2 – The Sins of Eli’s Wicked Sons
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord and the custom of the priests with the people.
When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand.
Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself.
Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.
Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.”
If the man said to him, “They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire,” then he would say, “No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force.”
Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord.
Samuel before the Lord as a Boy
Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord, as a boy wearing a linen ephod.
And his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him from year to year when she would come up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you children from this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the Lord.”
And they went to their own home.
The Lord visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.
And the boy Samuel grew before the Lord.
Eli Rebukes His Sons
Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.
He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people?
No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the Lord’s people circulating.
If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?”
But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death.
Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men. ~ 1 Samuel 2:12-26 NASB
Practical Law for the Levites
First, who were the Levites? According to wiki:
“The Tribe of Levi served particular religious duties for the Israelites and had political and educational responsibilities as well.”
During the days of Eli, priests were taken care of because they dedicated their lives to serve the Lord.
Just as our pastors are sustained by congregations, the people of Israel made sure the ones who served in the temple did not go “unfed“.
In fact, laws governed how the needs of the priests were to be met. Some wages came from tithes. But, there were other laws in effect as well.
As we just read in 12:1, the people were to share their meat with the priests.
Was this enough for Eli’s sons? A resounding “No!”. These priests took advantage of their position because of their lust for power.
We see this trend continue in the New Testament. The priests loathed Jesus because He exposed their hypocrisy. And, this fear of losing power eventually led to the killing of Jesus – so they thought.
Let’s Not Condemn ALL Priests
Now, before we go further, all priests were not like these Levites. After all, Samuel was a Levite, wasn’t he?
But, just as in any society, we find good and bad people. Samuel was one of the good ones!
Eli’s Response to His Evil Sons
Did Eli know his sons were evil and corrupt? Of course he did. But, the big question is, why did he do so little to stop them?
After all, Eli was the high priest.
In those days, the judgment for sins of this sort was death. This is how it’s stated in Numbers:
“But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people.
Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him.’” ~ Numbers 15:31-32
So, we can see why Eli is reluctant to pass judgment on his sons.
Unfortunately, Eli’s unwillingness to lose his sons caused great pain and suffering among the very people they were to guide and protect.
Do We Ignore the Sins of Our Children? Of Others?
The story of Eli’s evil sons brings a hard lesson to us. Just as Eli did not want to hurt his children, we feel the same way.
Bottom line is, if we confront problems head on, there are consequences – maybe consequences we cannot live with.
But, learning from this story, we must also weigh the consequence of not acting at all.
We love our children. We want only the best for them. But, sometimes we must confront them in love in order to protect them from outside forces later.
This is a tough decision, I know.
Other situations we face in life may not involve our children. In truth, this lesson applies to most walks of life.
So, let’s pray and ask God to help us confront problems His way when they arise in our lives.
If you would like to discover how to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to see John 3:16 here.