1 Samuel 2:27-36: What will be the fate of these two evil men?
The fate of Hophni and Phinehas
27 A man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus the Lord has said, ‘I revealed myself to the family of your ancestor in Egypt when they were slaves to the house of Pharaoh. 28 I chose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to offer incense, to wear an ephod before me; and I gave to the family of your ancestor all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then look with greedy eye at my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord the God of Israel declares: ‘I promised that your family and the family of your ancestor should go in and out before me forever’; but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt. 31 See, a time is coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your ancestor’s family, so that no one in your family will live to old age. 32 Then in distress you will look with greedy eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed upon Israel; and no one in your family shall ever live to old age. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep out his eyes and grieve his heart; all the members of your household shall die by the sword.34 The fate of your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you—both of them shall die on the same day. 35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed one forever. 36 Everyone who is left in your family shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread, and shall say, Please put me in one of the priest’s places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.’” (1 SAMUEL 2:27-36 NRSV).
What will the holy God do about priests like Eli’s sons? Tolerate and approve their behavior? No! He sends a prophet to Eli and declares that he and his family will no longer be priests. What’s more, Eli’s sons will both die on the same day as a sign of the Lord’s displeasure.
All of this will happen despite the Lord’s own promise to Eli that his house and his father’s house would minister before the Lord forever (1 Samuel 2:30). Does the Lord not keep his promises? Is he an unreliable God? No. He is a faithful God, but he honors those who honor him. All the promises of God are dependent on the faithfulness of his people. They must hear his voice and obey. So will God’s people be left without priests? No. God will raise up for himself a faithful priest.
God’s purposes cannot ultimately be thwarted by the unfaithfulness of his servants. He is the almighty God who acts in our lives. Our salvation is not dependent on the holiness of priests, elders, or ministers, but on the powerful work of God.
God of love, give us faith to trust your promises, even when our leaders are unfaithful.
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.