Hello church family,
As I started reading I Samuel, it has been interesting to notice the contrast between Hannah and Eli, and the consequences of both of their actions.
It is amazing to see how Eli reacts to Hannah and her desperate prayer to God in wanting to have a child. He thinks that she is drunk! This is one of the judges, or a relatively prominent leader for Israel at the time, and he does not know what prayer is! As the story goes on, God rewards Hannah’s faithfulness (Samuel is born), and Eli’s house is in absolute disarray. His boys God begins to reject, and Samuel is raised up to be a judge for Israel. The scriptures actually tell us that Eli’s sons were “worthless” (2:12), because they held the Lord’s offerings in contempt by getting literally “fat” off the people’s sacrifices, and participating in lecherous behavior with prostitutes outside of the tent of meeting. Samuel, in contrast, continues to grow in the presence of the Lord (2:21).
In chapter three, we see a story which shows how far Eli has declined, as he has no connection with the Lord, while Samuel is hearing from the Lord. It culminates in chapter four, where the ark of the covenant is stolen by the Philistines, and both Eli and his sons die. The ultimate statement is found in the name of child that was born from Eli’s daughter in law. The child’s name was Ichabod, which means “ the glory has departed from Israel.” In contrast, Samuel is the flickering light in a people that has fallen into very dark times.
What are we to make of all of this? It shows the importance of whole-hearted devotion to the Lord, and how multi-generational faithfulness has effects on the people of God, and the world. Where it is lacking, things become very dark, very quickly. Choices that we make in our generation have ramifications on future generations. The glory of the Lord can depart, as we make choices that we don’t want God’s presence, however subtle they may be, God may grant us our wish. Yikes!
This is different than “sinning” or “falling short” in walking with the Lord. Whole-hearted followers of Jesus, have ups and downs, prosperous and lacking seasons, but the overall trajectory is wanting to please the Lord in obedience. Eli and his family, rejected the Lord, albeit was different for Eli, as his rejection was more subtle than his sons were, but it was still there. The point still remains, that God calls us to take careful heed of His word, treasure it ourselves, teach it to our kids, love His presence, walk in it, and when we fail, repent where He leads us, and rest in His grace ultimately expressed in the death and resurrection of Jesus.