1 Samuel 2:12-26: What would you think of someone who stole meat off your grill?
Eli’s sons were wicked men!
12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord 13 or for the duties of the priests to the people. When anyone offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and 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. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the one who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast; for he will not accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.” 16 And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take whatever you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now; if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord; for they treated the offerings of the Lord with contempt.
18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 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. 20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord”; and then they would return to their home.
21 And the Lord took note of Hannah; she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.
22 Now Eli was very old. He heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 He said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25 If one person sins against another, someone can intercede for the sinner with the Lord; but if someone sins against the Lord, who can make intercession?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father; for it was the will of the Lord to kill them.
26 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people. (1 SAMUEL 2:12-26 NRSV).
Hannah has left her son in the hands of the Lord at Eli’s house. But Eli’s house is not a holy place. His sons, who were priests of the most holy God, were anything but holy. Instead of humbly accepting the gift that was their due, a part of the sacrifice chosen by God, these men chose the best part of the meat before it was sacrificed. They stole meat from the pots of people’s homes by force. Imagine someone coming and stealing meat off your grill! How would you feel about these guys?
But that’s not all. They slept with the women who served at the Tent of Meeting. Eli warns them of the consequences of their actions but they refuse to listen to his rebuke. Imagine, men of God, servants of the Lord, who abuse their power by sexually abusing those under their control and embezzling from God’s people. Imagine them not listening to the correction of their spiritual leaders. Things haven’t changed much since Samuel’s day.
By contrast, the boy Samuel is a genuine minister before the Lord. Each year his mother visits him and shows her love by making him a new robe. As a result of her listening, trusting heart, God blesses her with more children. Like Jesus (see Luke 2:41-52), Samuel grows up in the house of the Lord, growing in stature and in favor with the Lord and with humans.
In what ways are we like Samuel and Jesus called to grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with the Lord and with humans?
God of love, protect us from all that is unholy, and give us growth in favor with you and with others.
DR. GARY HOLLOWAY
Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway.