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Eli And His Two Sons (1 Samuel 1.8)

Many and varied are the warning signals given by God in His word, to guide and keep the feet of His gathered-out people in the paths that are well-pleasing to Himself. The opening chapters of 1 Samuel tell how a father and his two sons came under the judgement of God, and may sound a note of warning to parents, particularly fathers, and sons in these days. May we all throughout the Fellowship take heed, and like the psalmist, be warned by the judgements of the LORD (Psalm 19.11).

Eli and his two ungodly sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests unto the LORD, but that high office was no indication of their heart condition before the LORD; of the two sons it. is written: "They knew not the LORD "(2.12). The margin says that they were wicked men and their acts recorded in chapters 2.22, and 2.16 clearly shew what can happen through lack of training in boyhood. "Train up a child (give instruction) in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it." Eli was responsible to see that his sons were brought up to fear the LORD, instead he honoured his sons above the LORD (2.29), and knowing their iniquity, he restrained them not (3.18). Unbridled self-indulgences in their youth, and lack of parental restraint: ended in iniquitous practices that no sacrifice could expiate nor offering purge for ever. Certainly Eli rebuked his sons when informed of their evil dealings with the people (2.. 23), but by then be was very old, and they hearkened not unto the voice of their father. If only he had restrained them when young, things might have been different, but it was too late later on: they passed beyond the judge of Israel (4.18) to come under the judgement of the LORD.

One of the signs of the grievous times of the last days is disobedience to parents: to-day it is not uncommon for indulgent parents to be ruled by their children. In his letter to the saints at Ephesus, Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, exhorts fathers to nurture (bring them up) their children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord, and children to obey their parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6.4).

In sharp contrast to Eli's two sons, we read with delight of the child Samuel growing before the LORD. God had His man marked out to be raised up a faithful servant, one that would do according to that which was in God's heart. Hannah proved faithful to her vow in granting her son to the LORD, and played no small part in his upbringing, for both she and her husband feared the LORD. Verses 18 and 26 of chapter 2., shine out like brilliant shafts of sunlight piercing a sky of gathering storm-clouds,. which foretold the coming gloom of the departure of the LORD. Eli with his sons made themselves fat with the chiefest of the offerings of Israel (2.29). His two sons were slain in battle and the ark of God taken, and Eli, at ninety-eight years of age, hearing the sad news, fell and broke his neck. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?