Eli Rejected, Samuel Accepted – 1 Samuel 2-3

Eli was a Levite from the priestly clan of Israel and was used by God to lead Israel for forty years. But along the way something happened in his life that He had started taking the Lord for granted and did not pay heed to His warnings.

Scoundrel Sons

Eli’s sons who were the next in line to rule over Israel were scoundrels and had no regard for the Lord. They would religiously abuse the privileges that were given to the priests and treated all the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh with contempt. They even slept with the women who served at the tent of the Lord.

This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they were treating the LORD’s offering with contempt.

1 Samuel 2:17

Eli was old by now and was aware of all the wrong that his son’s were doing and thereby himself was guilty of corrupting the house of the Lord. They had passed the point of correction and did not listen to their father’s advice. One day God sent word to Eli through His messenger to reveal the plans He had for him.

Eli’s disobedience had separated him from God. God did not depart from him but he created a separation from God. The same happened with David who wrote countless psalms and prophesied about the Savior of the world but when he separated himself from his maker, God had to send the prophet Nathan to communicate with him. Oftentimes, we are so deep into our sins that we do not want to be corrected by anyone let alone by God. We start creating a figurative chasm that separates us from God not realizing that we are being drawn closer to the evil one. The man of God reminded Eli of everything that the Lord had promised him, when they were in talking terms. However now all that God promised him will not be fulfilled because of his disobedience.

Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life.

1 Samuel 2:33

The anointing that was given to Eli and his sons was taken away from them and in their place God would raise up a faithful priest who will follow His voice. Eli’s clan was reduced to placebo priests just to get by and have food on their table.

Samuel is Chosen

There was complete silence from God as He was not speaking to anyone through visions or even dreams. One night while Samuel the young boy who was serving at the temple was sleeping near the ark of the Lord, he heard a voice call out his name.

Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.

1 Samuel 3:4

Samuel had never heard the Lord speak and rather than answering God he ran to Eli assuming he was the one calling him. This happened three times and that is when Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling Samuel. Even though Eli was old in years, he would have still been weary of the Lord’s words through the man of God about replacing him with another priest. He finally taught Samuel how to respond to God’s calling but in the back of his mind his intention was to know God’s plan concerning his family. The next time when he heard the voice, Samuel got up and spoke to God saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” The Lord spoke to him and revealed His plans to this young, naive boy, alone in the house of the Lord. He spoke about Eli’s fall and the destruction that would be carried out. His son’s were blaspheming against God and Eli was responsible as he failed to restrain them.

Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

1 Samuel 3:14

The Bible teaches us that there is nothing that we can do that can permanently separate us from God. The only thing that separates us permanently and that even Jesus spoke about was acting against God’s Spirit (Matthew 12:31). Eli and his sons in their act of ignorance and disobedience were corrupting the sanctity of the house of the Lord. They were even becoming a barrier to the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh. There is no sin that we can commit in our lives that is too big for God to forgive but leading others away from the path of God is going against His Spirit. Jesus spoke about it many times, as the pharisees were leading the flock astray. The woes that He spoke against them were because of this eternal sin.

The next morning Samuel was afraid to talk to Eli about his vision but Eli coerced him into telling all that God had revealed to him. Eli accepted his fate saying, “let the Lord do what is good in His eyes.” Samuel was chosen that day to lead Israel and everyone from Dan to Beersheba attested of him as a prophet from the Lord. God started to appear at Shiloh again through His chosen prophet Samuel.

The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

1 Samuel 3:21

Discussion Questions

  • Eli was the high priest of Israel, so why did God not communicate with him directly rather than using prophets?
  • God would have certainly known how Eli and his sons would turn out? Why did God promise that members of Eli’s family will always minister before Him?
  • Why couldn’t Samuel recognize God’s voice?
  • Is there any sin that cannot be atoned for?

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