Eli’s Fall

For those of you who haven’t had your Dr. Pepper today, the title of this post is an intended pun. Feel free to chuckle…

Eli’s first reference in scripture (that I’m aware of) is in 1 Samuel 1. He’s introduced to us as a background detail of another story. In essence, in the first book of Samuel Eli’s role is as a supporting character of Samuel. (surprised?)

It’s also noteworthy that his introduction, after the introduction of Hannah and Peninnah, the wives of Elkanah, is secondary to the introduction of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas.

Eli’s first actions aren’t glamorous: he’s "sitting on a chair  by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple." We see him next watching and criticizing the worship of others.

Eli’s next reference other than Samuel’s arrival is because of his sons who, by the way, were priests. "Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord."

I’m probably being too harsh on Eli, but after God brings this to his attention Eli gives them a verbal slap on the wrist and lets them go on. I can think of some other Old Testament fathers who didn’t put up with this sort of thing. I can’t help but wonder if a large portion of Eli’s sons’ failure was simply because Eli did what he always did in chapter one: sit on his chair and watch people.

I know the text doesn’t necessarily prove this conclusion, but it doesn’t shut the door to it either.

What do you think?

Worthless Sons

When God gets angry, it’s good to take notice.

Isaiah 5:20, an Old Testament version of the "Seven Woes" of Matthew 25 is explicit: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil!

Jeremiah railed against the people for taking things too lightly: Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11, etc.

Malachi 2:3 describes God’s promise to, yes, really, smear dung on the offenders’ faces.

Of course, Jesus said a few things along these lines too. There’s that "unpardonable sin" of Matthew 12:31-32 and Luke 12:10, and the whole "it would have been better if you had never been born" line in Matthew 26:21-25.

In this week’s reading, Eli’s "worthless" sons were given this sort of treatment. The text said that the guilt of Eli’s house would never be atoned for. It appears there was a laundry list of sins these guys committed (including sleeping with those who had gathered to worship), but the one that got the most attention was the way they "treated the Lord’s offering with contempt" (page 387 of the Daily Bible).

I’ll leave as an exercise to the reader to determine the common thread between these offenses.