Contrasting Lives

We don’t know how Eli, in the Bible, raised his sons.  It is implied that he spoiled them.  In fact sons were seen as such a blessing that many men spoiled their sons.  Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, seem to have at best a deist view of God.  Deism beieves that God exists but that he has no real involvement in day-to-day events.  Because they do not think God is imminent or present, they think that they can modify God’s laws for their own benefit.  They start taking the best meat from the sacrifices and they start to sexually abuse the women at Shiloh. 

Samuel is a contrast.  Samuel is a picture of innocense.  He faithfully goes about his duties and keeps himself from sin.  Although many people I know go into ministry these contrasting attitude are still present.  Some grow increasingly unaware of the God they say they serve.  Their actions betray less holiness and they excuse their failings.  Others remember why they were called and they live more and more in the present moment with God.  Is your faith diluted over time or is it becoming stronger?

1 Samuel 2

1Then Hannah prayed and said:

   “My heart rejoices in the LORD;
   in the LORD my horn[a] is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
   for I delight in your deliverance.

 2 “There is no one holy like the LORD;
   there is no one besides you;
   there is no Rock like our God.

 3 “Do not keep talking so proudly
   or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the LORD is a God who knows,
   and by him deeds are weighed.

 4 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
   but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
   but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
   but she who has had many sons pines away.

 6 “The LORD brings death and makes alive;
   he brings down to the grave and raises up.
7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
   he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
   and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
   and has them inherit a throne of honor.

   “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s;
   on them he has set the world.
9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
   but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.

   “It is not by strength that one prevails;
 10 those who oppose the LORD will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
   the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.

   “He will give strength to his king
   and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

 11Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the LORD under Eli the priest.

Eli’s Wicked Sons

 12 Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD. 13 Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled 14 and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. 15But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.”

 16If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.”

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

 18 But Samuel was ministering before the LORD—a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the LORD give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to[c] the LORD.” Then they would go home. 21And the LORD was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD.

 22 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the LORD’s people is not good. 25 If one person sins against another, God[d]may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the LORD, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death.

 26And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with people.

Prophecy Against the House of Eli

 27 Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Did I not clearly reveal myself to your ancestor’s family when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? 28 I chose your ancestor out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your ancestor’s family all the food offerings presented by the Israelites. 29 Why do you[e]scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’

 30 “Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. 31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your priestly house, so that no one in it will reach old age, 32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age. 33Every 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.

 34 “‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day. 35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always. 36 Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread and plead, “Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat.”’”

Questions

  1. How are Hannah and Samuel contrasted with Eli, Hophni and Phineas?
  2. How do Hannah’s song and the song of David at the end of 2 Samuel serve as bookends to 1 & 2 Samuel?
  3. Why does God tell Eli what will happen to his sons?
  4. Have you seen church leaders who seem to live as though there is no God?  How would such a person stay in the church?
  5. How might you drift into church attendance whilst living a life that is not pleasing to God?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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10 Responses to Contrasting Lives

  1. HeeJin,Choi says:

    1.How are Hannah and Samuel contrasted with Eli, Hophni and Phineas?
    -Hannah who loved in awe of God raised her child, remembering Samuel does not belong to her, but God. So Samuel was raised uprightly in God’s eyes while Eli messed up with his sons by neglecting God’s promise that God have appointed them as priests FOR GOD and by loving his sons more than God. Eventually God took them back.
    2.How do Hannah’s song and the song of David at the end of 2 Samuel serve as bookends to 1 & 2 Samuel?
    – Those songs strengthen God’s righteousness
    3.Why does God tell Eli what will happen to his sons?
    – To directly show that God is taking His promise back, rebuking Eli because he had been worshiping his two sons more than God.
    4.Have you seen church leaders who seem to live as though there is no God? How would such a person stay in the church?
    – I haven’t seen that kind of leaders yet. If I had,I wouldn’t be able to stay in the church then.
    5.How might you drift into church attendance whilst living a life that is not pleasing to God?

  2. Melisa Guiles says:

    1.Hannah and Samuel are shown as those who are devoted to the Lord and they are spoken of highly by those around them. Eli, Hophni, and Phineas are shown as those who are disobedient to the Lord and are not spoken of well by those around them.
    2. They both put the focus on the Lord for the things that He did for them.
    3. It is a sign to show him that his family will no longer be priests before the Lord.
    4. I haven’t personally seen leaders who live like this. I think that these people might stay in church because they like the power that comes with their leadership responsibility and because that is what is expected of them by those around them.
    5. You might be invited by someone to come or think that simply by attending church that is enough to please God.

  3. Sokloon Dy (Lizzy) says:

    -Hannah and Samuel were devoted to God with their whole hearts and honored Him, while Eli and his sons cared only about themselves. They despised God.
    -it served as a praise and thanksgiving for what He has done.
    -i think because He is letting them know the consequences of their actions. Also, to show His justice.
    -No, I have not. I think he/she would stay in the church maybe for personal gain, like money, power, and influence.

  4. Kristin Goffinet says:

    1) Hannah and Samuel are honored for there respect and love for the Lord, but Eli, and his sons are going to face judgement for their sins.
    2) These songs center the focus of the books on God’s power, justice, and love.
    3) I think he told Eli what would happen to show him how serious his sons’ sin was to Him, almost rebuking Eli for not being more harsh toward his sons.
    4) I don’t know if I have necessarily seen church leaders who live as though there is no God, but I definitely think many church leaders are not as aware of there need for the Lord as they should be. I think it is easy for any unbeliver to stay in the church if they appear kind and loving and sincere to the congregation.
    5) I can show up to church, pray, and spend time in God’s Word, but still allow my thoughts to be unpleasing to him.

  5. [ED2203-01] HyeJin Lee says:

    1.How are Hannah and Samuel contrasted with Eli, Hophni and Phineas?
    – Hannah educated Samuel that he had to serve God with sincere heart by making robes every year so that he could be prepared with a clean robe before worship. On the other hand, Hophni and Phineas did not consider worship as important event, and they dishonored God by not acting holy.

    2.How do Hannah’s song and the song of David at the end of 2 Samuel serve as bookends to 1 & 2 Samuel?
    – This shows that 1 and 2 Samuel could be considered as one book, because it has the concept of inclusio which is a literary concept that begins with a specific theme and ends with the same theme.

    3.Why does God tell Eli what will happen to his sons?
    – It is written that God told what would happen to Eli’s son because so that they could know that God fulfills whatever which is in His mind.

    4.Have you seen church leaders who seem to live as though there is no God? How would such a person stay in the church?
    – Well.. I heard a lot about church leaders being not holy and doing things that dishonor God. I think this is because churches in nowadays tends to teach God as a path of blessing and to lose the concept of God as a holy being that needs to be worshiped in a sincere way. So churches are losing their roles to condemn those who do not act holy even though they are Christians.

    5.How might you drift into church attendance whilst living a life that is not pleasing to God?
    – Sometimes, attending to church becomes a habit as ritual ceremony, so people might think that just attending is enough to please God.

  6. 1. Hannah and Eli were dedicated to God, but Eli’s family cared about themselves and were going to be judged beacuse of it.
    2. They both centered their appreciation on God.
    3. God was showing His way of punishment, as well as His wrath.
    4. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen THAT necessarily, but I have seen pastors that have put God lower on the list of priorities of running their church. I honeslty don’t know how they stay in the church, but I do know that God will not bless such a leader.
    5. Becoming stagnant. It’s so easy to do, and yet so many of us do it without realizing it. I need to focus my every day life on the goodness of God, and hopefully that won’t happen– I enjoy when He challenges me… it helps me to realize that I always need Him.

  7. Amy Kringle says:

    1. Hannah and Samuel are shown as fearing God and living in an honorable way towards all people and God while the others only gave lip service to God.
    2. They both talk about how they know God is holy, so they live a righteous life before him, and because of that, God protects them and brings about their salvation.
    3. He told them what would happen so that he would be warned and so that he could warn his sons and hopefully they would change their ways.
    4. I have seen one of my old pastors live in a way that spoke of God but did not treat others with the love of God.
    5. The outward signs of being a Christian and going to church are not the most important thing that God wants- he wants a heart that fears and worships him.

  8. Grace Yoo says:

    1. Hannah and Samuel seemed like they were devoted to God. They would pray a lot and minister to others. On the other hand, but Eli’s family seemed like they disregarded God. They had great sins and only cared about themselves.

    2. Hannah’s song and the song of David seemed kind of similar to each other in the way that they focused on God and worshiped Him.

    3. God tells Eli what will happen to his sons because He wanted to show His wrath but also to show that He will do what He says He will do.

    4. Yes, I have seen some church leaders that would act a certain way in church, but when outside of the church, they would be a different person. It is as if they wear a mask to church on Sundays and then take them off when they are not at church.

    5. Sometimes we will go to church just because it is what we have been doing all our lives and it is basically like a routine now. But everyday should be lived as if we were at church.

  9. Moon [ED 2203;Mon 6:00pm class] says:

    1.How are Hannah and Samuel contrasted with Eli, Hophni and Phineas?
    Hannah and Samuel faithfully served God
    2.How do Hannah’s song and the song of David at the end of 2 Samuel serve as bookends to 1 & 2 Samuel? Both songs are praising God and exalting HIm
    3.Why does God tell Eli what will happen to his sons? his sons did not follow God’s command and have sinned before God
    4.Have you seen church leaders who seem to live as though there is no God? How would such a person stay in the church?
    They deceive church members and also try to deceive God. But they will be judged by what they have done before God.
    5.How might you drift into church attendance whilst living a life that is not pleasing to God?
    if we don’t live a life that is pleasing to God, it could affect people in the church and drag down them as well.

  10. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. Hannah and Samuel are godly people who obey His commands and give their lives to Him. Eli, Hophni, and Phineas do not obey God’s commands and live for their own pleasures and gains.
    2. Hannah’s song and the song of David at the end of 2 Samuel serve as bookends to 1 & 2 Samuel because they both talk about serving God and following His will.
    3. God tells Eli what will happen to his sons as a sign to Eli.
    4. I have seen church leaders who seem to live as though there is not God. Such a person would stay in the church if the church did not follow the commands of God.
    5. You might drift into church attendance whilst living a life that is not pleasing to God by separating Christianity from your daily life and not living as a Christian and following God’s commands.

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