A Response from Scripture to Brother Greene

Jon Greene, a friend of mine and soldier who spent many years overseas fighting on behalf of this great land made a comment several days ago, which I then shared.  I would like to recount it and, I believe, a possible scriptural response.

Jon’s comment

I think Eli gets a worse rap than he deserves sometimes. He was a poor priest, but mostly he was a poor father. His kids ran over him. He’s guilty mostly of being a pushover. But, by the time Samuel came on the scene, he already knew that his priesthood was kaput. It had been prophesied. And yet, he still chose to equip Samuel, which was even more amazing considering he was not his own son.

1 Samuel’s response

While I love Jon’s motive for the last sentence (an attitude that asks, “how would we have behaved, in this situation?”), and think it’s a well-written, poignant, evenhanded analysis that would sober any minister who seeks to railroad Eli with unbridled judgment without exception, since the Lord did use Eli to raise up Samuel, in part, Scripture does make something perfectly clear; Eli does deserve a bad rap, though not necessarily as bad as some would give him.

Compare Jon’s comment with 1 Samuel 2:29, where God sends a man of God to rebuke Eli, and consider the following (emphasis mine bold

Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’

In other words Eli and/or his sons did the following things as spoken by the Lord

1) Eli, at the very least is accused of kicking at the sacrifice of the Lord “Kicking at” may be considered a euphemism for handling the sacrifice with an improper or irreverent attitude (“an unworthy manner, without self-examination and an attitude of repentance).  See Paul’s indictment of the Corinthians with respect to the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

2) Eli honored his sons above the Lord.  Plainly as day, God takes the attitude we have seen, and maybe some we have not seen up to this point as one that dishonors him, and places concern for family above concern for the things of God.  

3) Eli, Hophni, Phineas make themselves fat with the best of the offerings.  Instead of subsisting humbly on the portions they are given, they take the first and best of all the offerings for themselves.  The illustration here is found in 1 Samuel 2:12-17.  This is a violation of the laws of the meat offerings and the fat and blood segments of priestly meat offerings.  

So, in my estimation, Eli does bear some of the blame for what is happening with his sons in this context.

More continuing thoughts on 1 Samuel 3

Your thoughts?


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