12-13Eli's sons were priests, but they were dishonest and refused to obey the Lord. So, while people were boiling the meat from their sacrifices, these priests would send over a servant with a large, three-pronged fork. 14The servant would stick the fork into the cooking pot, and whatever meat came out on the fork was taken back to Eli's two sons. That was how they treated every Israelite who came to offer sacrifices in Shiloh. 15Sometimes, when people were offering sacrifices, the servant would come over, even before the fat had been cut off and sacrificed to the Lord.
Then the servant would tell them, “The priest doesn't want his meat boiled! Give him some raw meat that he can roast!”
16Usually the people answered, “Take what you want. But first, let us sacrifice the fat to the Lord.”
“No,” the servant would reply. “If you don't give it to me now, I'll take it by force.”
17Eli's sons did not show any respect for the sacrifices that the people offered. This was a terrible sin, and it made the Lord very angry.
Hannah Visits Samuel
18The boy Samuel served the Lord and wore a special linen garment 19and the clothes his mother made for him. She brought new clothes every year, when she and her husband came to offer sacrifices at Shiloh.
20Eli always blessed Elkanah and his wife and said, “Samuel was born in answer to your prayers. Now you have given him to the Lord. I pray that the Lord will bless you with more children to take his place.” After Eli had blessed them, Elkanah and Hannah would return home.
21The Lord was kind to Hannah, and she had three more sons and two daughters. But Samuel grew up at the Lord's house in Shiloh.
Eli Warns His Sons
22Eli was now very old, and he heard what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. 23-24“Why are you doing these awful things?” he asked them. “I've been hearing nothing but complaints about you from all of the Lord's people. 25If you harm another person, God can help make things right between the two of you. But if you commit a crime against the Lord, no one can help you!”
But the Lord had already decided to kill them. So he kept them from listening to their father.
A Prophet Speaks
26 Each day, as Samuel grew older, the Lord was pleased with him, and so were the people.
How can priests be dishonest and refuse to obey the Lord? It’s a total oxymoron! Priests were God’s representatives to the people. They had been chosen by God for this position. There were very strict rules of behaviour and duties. Yet Eli’s sons brazenly disobey and disrespect God in public. Even the people who were offering sacrifices knew the “rules” of sacrifice and offering to the Lord (v 16).
Eli’s sons showed no respect for the sacrifices the people offered. They showed no respect for the position they were in. But, most importantly they showed no respect for God. Eli’s sons didn’t know it yet, but they were going to pay with their lives for their disrespect and disobedience to God (1 Samuel 4:11).
What a contrast when we read “the boy Samuel served the Lord…” (v 18). His mother, Hannah, willingly gave her son into God’s service. She had prayed fervently for Samuel’s birth and I’m sure those prayers continued as he served the Lord. Their yearly visits would have been bittersweet, but also reassuring as she saw her son growing in his love and service to God.
Eli, the priest, always blessed Elkanah and Hannah, and prayed that the Lord would give them more children. And, because of the Lord’s kindness she had more children.
Death or blessing? We face that choice every day. Honour, respect and obey God or thumb our nose at Him? The choice is ours.
Holy God, You know our attitudes and see the resulting actions. Please help me to be more God honouring like Hannah, and less like Eli’s sons with their soul destructive “me first” attitude, so that I sincerely honour and respect you more. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.