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Eli was a godly man, beloved by those who looked to him for spiritual guidance. He was especially fond of Samuel, who grew up under his tutelage. He trusted him enough to give him important responsibilities in the tabernacle at Shiloh. Even when the environment around him was wicked and God’s word seemed rare and infrequent, Samuel stayed focused. He even voluntarily assumed the priestly duties of the Lord in his early teens, wearing a linen ephod (1 Sam 2:21).

Yet it is not surprising that when the time came for him to deliver God’s message, it was a stern one. The Bible makes it very clear that Eli’s sons Hophni and Pinhas abused their position as priests by abusing their power to rob the worshippers of their offerings and sleep with women who served at the entrance to the tent. This was a serious blasphemy against the Lord, and Eli failed to restrain them (1 Sam 2:12, 23).

As a result, the Lord punished his family by destroying the priesthood in his house, and He also revoked the covenant between Himself and Israel (1 Sam 2:27-36). The message that Samuel delivered to him was an important one for all of Israel, not just for Eli.

This stern message was not easy for young Samuel to hear, and it was probably quite difficult for him to convey to his mentor. Yet he made no attempt to re-state, re-interpret, or control the message he received from God. He simply obeyed his mentor’s directive to bring him all that the Lord had said, even if it was difficult for him to hear.

The Lord’s message was hard to hear, but he made it very clear that His intention was to replace Eli as the prophet, priest, and judge of Israel. He told Samuel that what He was about to do would make the ears of those who heard it tingle and tremble (vs. 8).

As we think about how to minister to people today, let us remember that the Lord uses ordinary means for extraordinary results. He may use the sacraments to touch hearts and transform lives, but He often does His best work through ordinary routines like daily prayer. It is through the development of the habit and practice of prayer that we develop an attitude of humility and submission to His will, which is necessary to receive His word from the Bible. Only then can we be ready to receive and preach the fullness of the Gospel. This is a lesson that Samuel learned and that we need to learn. May we be faithful in our daily prayers. Amen. Jim Bender, 2018. All rights reserved. Permission granted for free distribution of this article by the author or their authorized agent. Please include a link back to this page when using this material. Any other reproduction without permission is prohibited. Eli Samuel


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