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ELI’S SUBMISSION TO THE DIVINE REBUKES
1 Samuel 3:18. And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It in the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good.
IT is of the nature of sin to harden the heart, and to prevent the declarations of God from having their due influence on the mind [Note: Hebrews 3:13.]. It operates in this manner, wherever it is found: the righteous, no less than the wicked, experience the same effects, in proportion as it gains an ascendant over them. Eli had neglected to exert that authority, which, as God’s high-priest, and as a parent, he ought to have exercised over his abandoned sons: and God sent a prophet to him, “a man of God,” to reprove him, and to warn him of the judgments which his sin would bring both on himself and his posterity [Note: 1 Samuel 2:27-35.]. But this message seems to have produced no good effect. God therefore used another method of awakening his conscience: he revealed himself to Samuel by an audible voice, and renewed to him the declarations, that had been before made in vain. The voice was new to Samuel; and, taking it for Eli’s voice, he repeatedly attended on the aged priest: but when, according to the direction of Eli, he had requested the further manifestation of Gods will, he received from God the communication he desired. It does not appear that he would of himself have imparted to Eli the information he had received: but when adjured to it by Eli himself, he could not refrain.
The points for our present consideration are,
The fidelity of Samuel—
[The tidings were of a most dreadful nature: and to deliver them must have been a distressing office to Samuel. But Samuel was not elated by the revelation that had been made to him; nor was he hasty to denounce the judgments which he was commissioned to declare [Note: Jeremiah 17:16.]; yet on the other hand, when he was solemnly called upon to disclose the whole, he would not dissemble, nor conceal any thing; but related to Eli every minute particular.
In this we have an excellent model for God’s servants in every age. They should deliver only what they themselves have received from God: nor, in delivering that, should they delight to denounce the judgments of God, or exult over those whom they are constrained to condemn: yet they should, with becoming fidelity, “declare the whole counsel of God:” they should “keep back nothing that can be profitable” to those to whom they are sent; but should “commend themselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
The consciousness of their own youth or weakness should not keep them from discharging their duty aright: they should declare the whole truth to all, whether old or young, professors or profane: “Having received God’s word, they must speak his word faithfully [Note: Jeremiah 23:28.].”]
Whilst we approve of the fidelity of Samuel, we must also of necessity admire,
The resignation of Eli—
[If the tidings were painful to Samuel to deliver, much more must they be so to Eli to hear: even to persons far less interested than he, they were sufficient to make “their ears to tingle.” Yet Eli did not set himself against them, though delivered by a child: on the contrary, he submitted to the divine decree with humble resignation. He knew that God was too wise to err, and too good to inflict punishment without a cause. He knew also that he himself had sinned against the Lord, and well deserved the judgments that had been denounced against him. Hence the language of his heart was, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him [Note: Micah 7:9.].”
This shews how we should receive all the denunciations of God’s wrath against sin. We should not “puff at them,” or harden ourselves against them, or think unkindly of those who set them before us; we should not with Pharisaic pride exclaim, “In so saying thou reproachest us:” but whatever God says in his word, by whomsoever it may be delivered, we should “receive it, not as the word of man, but as the word of God,” precisely as much as if it had been spoken to us by an audible voice from heaven. Eternal judgments indeed we may deprecate, yea and ought to deprecate, with all our might: and even temporal calamities we may deprecate in submission to God: we may entreat him to remove the bitter cup, as fervently as we will, provided we add, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done:” but we must acknowledge the justice of God even in his severest judgments, and be contented that our temporal happiness should be destroyed, if only “our spirits may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus [Note: 1 Corinthians 5:5.].”]
From this subject we may further learn,
The importance of exerting our influence for God—
[Eli had neglected to punish his sons for their great impieties: he had reproved them indeed; but when he found the inefficiency of lenient reproofs, he had neglected to adopt severer measures. This was the sin which excited God’s displeasure against him, and occasioned the utter ruin of his whole family. How strongly does this apply to every individual amongst us! and how urgently does it call upon us to exert our influence, whatever it may be, for God! Let us not say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” If others are bold in the service of the devil, we should be bold in the service of our God: “we must in any wise reprove our brother, and not suffer sin upon him.” Our influence is as much a talent as our time, or money, or any thing else; and we ought to use it for God. We should not be contented to go to heaven alone, but should endeavour to carry all we can along with us.]
The comfort of being interested in the Gospel of Christ—
[There were many sins for which the Mosaic dispensation provided no sacrifice: and God himself warned Eli, that “the iniquity of his house should never be purged by sacrifice or offering, to the end of time.” But no such declaration is made to us under the Gospel: there is not a word in all the Bible that even hints at the insufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice to atone for the greatest guilt, or the doubtfulness of any person’s acceptance, provided he plead that sacrifice as the ground of his hopes. We are told indeed, that, “if a man sin wilfully (in rejecting that sacrifice) after he has received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no other sacrifice, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation [Note: Hebrews 10:26-27.]:” but to those who penitently trust in that sacrifice there is no ground of despondency. Whatever then our sins may have been, let us remember, that the death of Christ was “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world;” that “his blood is able to cleanse us from all sin; ”and that “though our sins be red as crimson, they shall through him be made white as snow.” Let this comfort us under every desponding apprehension; and whilst, with Eli, we commit the entire disposal of all events into the hands of a righteous God, let us cast ourselves with confidence on his promised mercy, and “hold fast the rejoicing of our hope firm unto the end.”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 3". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany