The Decline of the House of Eli   Leave a comment

Above: Hophni and Phinehas (Above), and Elkanah, Hannah, Samuel, and Eli (Below)

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART III

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1 Samuel 2:12-36

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The law of the LORD is perfect and revives the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.

The statutes of the LORD are just and rejoice the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is clear and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean and endures for ever;

the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold,

sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.

–Psalm 19:7-10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Hophni and Phinehas, sons of Eli, were scoundrels.  Claiming the choicest cuts of sacrificial meat (properly reserved for God) for themselves was just one of their sins.  They were the biological heirs of Eli.  They were unworthy.  The faithful priest (vs. 35-36) was Zadok (see 1 Kings 2:35), not Samuel (see 1 Samuel 8:1-3).

In a different family, Elkanah and Hannah had five more children.  And Samuel served God faithfully.

For I honor those who honor Me, and those who spurn Me shall be dishonored.

–1 Samuel 2:30c, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

One can dishonor God via sins of commission and sins of omission.  By that standard, Eli had committed sons of omission when he permitted Hophni and Phinehas to get away with their bad behavior.  All these men received punishment for their sins, although Eli got off more lightly than his sons did.

Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance in both the Old and New Testaments.  Hellfire-and-damnation people err on one side.  The opposite error is also commonplace.  Standards exist.  Violating them carries consequences.  Yet divine judgment is never capricious, and mercy is ever-present.  People condemn themselves; chickens come home to roost.  That may be more terrifying than the judgment of God, as hellfire-and-damnation preachers proclaim it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

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