Family Ministry Center │ Eli Sons of Sin
SONS OF SIN
Eli served as a priest of God at Shiloh, where the tabernacle of God had been pitched for many years during the time of the Judges (Joshua 18:1, page 375–tent of meeting there; Judges 18:31, page 423–house of God there). Before the Israelites entered the promised land, God had appointed the tribe of Levi to serve as priests for Israel, and God alone was their inheritance in the promised land (Deuteronomy 10:9, page 304). Aaron, the brother of Moses, served as a high priest during the Exodus from Egypt. Aaron had four sons, Nadab, Abhihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, and God commissioned all of them to serve Him as priests (Exodus 6;23, page 96; Exodus 28:1, page 133). You may recall that Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to the LORD, and God killed them by fire for their failure to treat the LORD as holy (Leviticus 10:1-20, pages 174-175). The story of Eli centers around the final and tragic end of the line of priests through Ithamar. Because of sin in the family, and disobedient sons and a lax father, God terminated a family line from serving Him any longer as priests. God had reduced the sons of Aaron to just Eleazar, because all of them had sinned in their priestly duties.
|1 Samuel 3:13|
“For I have told him that I am about
to judge his house forever for the
iniquity which he knew, because
his sons brought a curse on
themselves and he did not
Worthless Sons. God described the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, as worthless (“בְלִיָּעַל“) men who did not know the LORD and the custom of the priests with the people (1 Samuel 2:12, page 439). Apparently, these children despised education in the ways of God, and spurned salvation from God. In those days, God had commanded that priests take meat from offerings by using a three-pronged fork to lift out portions from a boiling pot (1 Samuel 2:13, page 439; Leviticus 7:29-34, pages 169-170). God also directed that, before boiling, the fat of the meat be removed and burned separately as a soothing aroma. But Hophni and Phinehas wanted the meat raw, with the fat still intact. Through their servants, they forced the people of Israel coming to Shiloh to give them the offerings as they demanded. Those children of Eli corrupted all the sacrifices offered at Shilon while they were in charge.
Immoral Sons. Hophni and Phinehas also polluted the morality of people coming to Shiloh. Many of the pagan temples in the land had male and female prostitutes. The evil sons of Eli “lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting” (1 Samuel 2:22, page 440; compare Exodus 38:8, pages 153-154). The Bible implies that the priests consented to the immorality and freely participated in the same. They thoroughly disregarded the holiness of God and their position as priests to serve God through their daily work. Instead, they viewed their position as an opportunity to satisfy their own hungers and lusts.
The Father Lost Contact. When he was old, Eli confronted his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, because he heard of their sinful behavior from other people (1 Samuel 2:22, page 440). This verse indicates that for many years Eli apprently had been completely out of touch with his sons and neglected fatherly care. If you want to have children like Hophni and Phinehas, repeat the mistakes of Eli: do not educate your children about serving God according to their calling, do not keep in touch with your children, do not honestly evaluate the work of your children, make sure you get so busy doing God’s work you have no time for your adult children, and, in short, let your children do what they want without your guidance.
The Sins of the Sons. When Eli finally confronted Hophni and Phinehas, he told them that he had heard the bad report from the people. He warned his sons that no one can intercede for them before God, because they had sinned directly against the LORD (1 Samuel 2:25, page 440). The sons compounded their sin by refusing to listen to their father’s words (1 Samuel 2:25, page 440). God did not grant them repentance from their sins because God intended to put them to death (1 Samuel 2:25, page 440).
The Sins of the Father. Eli himself not only failed his sons, but he also participated in the abuse of the sacrifices and offerings. One day a man of God confronted Eli, after he had rebuked his sons for their sins against God. Through the man of God, Eli heard about his sins: (1) he was “kicking at” (“תִבְעֲטוּ“) the sacrifices and offerings of God in His holy dwelling; and (2) he honored his sons above God (1 Samuel 2:29, page 440). Eli loved the choicest of every offering, and took it, growing extremely fat in the process.
Glorifying Your Sons. The other major sin of Eli concerned his own devotion to his sons. God said Eli honored those boys more than Eli honored God. God commands fathers to love their children, but they must never honor children above God. The word “you honor” (“תְּכַבֵּד“) here means to glorify, to esteem highly. Instead of the children following the commandment to honor their father, this father chose to glorify his children above God (compare Exodus 20:12, page121; 1 Samuel 2:29-30, page 440). God also observed that Eli knew about the iniquity of his sons, and that they brought a curse upon themselves, but Eli did not rebuke them (1 Samuel 3:13, page 442; Deuteronomy 17:12, page 315). Whenever fathers allow their children to get away with all their evil deeds, even when the father knows about them or should have known, then God will take action. Fathers who love their sons confront their sons in love, and take all appropriate action immediately.
Sons Cursed by God. In consequence of the sin of Eli and his sons, God told Eli that He would break the strength of Eli and his house so that “there would not be an old man in your house” (1 Samuel 2:31, page 441). God also cursed Eli by making him watch the holy house of God fall into distress, and the death of the increase of his house in the prime of their lives (1 Samuel 2:33, page 441). God told Eli that he would cut off every man of Eli from serving at the altar of God ( 1 Samuel 2:32, 441).
Five Sins of Fathers
Fathers Sin When They Lose Track of Their Adult Children
Fathers Sin When They Participate in the Sins of Their Children
Fathers Sin When They Honor Their Children more than God
Fathers Sin When They Overlook Their Children’s Sins
Fathers Sin When They Despise God and His Purpose for Their Children
Eyes Full of Grief. God brought profound grief upon the last days of Eli. In one day, both Hophni and Phinehas would die as a sign to Eli (1 Samuel 2:34, page 441; see the ark of God taken from Israel, the sons of Eli killed, and how Eli, old and heavy, died when he heard the news–1 Samuel 4:1-18, page 443). Fathers should rebuke and correct their children, as often as needed, and avoid participating in the sins of the children.
Samuel Arises. As Eli staggered under the curse of God, a young boy grew up before him to serve God as a judge, prophet and priest, and he would do according to what was in the heart and soul of God (1 Samuel 2:35, page 441; the prophecy also pertains to Christ, the perfect High Priest–Hebrews 9:11, page 1878).
Offspring Become Beggars. Meanwhile, Eli’s remaining offspring would have to bow down to the new priest and seek a priestly office from him so that they may “eat a piece of bread” (1 Samuel 2:36, page 441). From exalted priests to lowly beggars, so are the people who despise God and sin against Him. God remains true to His plans, and sin will not overcome God’s eternal will. He had chosen Samuel, and Eli had counseled Samuel’s mother and he raised the child as a priest.
So we learn more about fathers and their role in daily devotions.
● Being a father in Christ means do not lose touch with your children, no matter how old they are.
● Being a father in Christ means that you confront and rebuke your children, no matter how old they are.
● Being a father in Christ means you do not participate in the sins of your son, and never honor them more than you honor God.
Application for Today
Eli reminds all parents of the need to stay in touch and connected to their children. Your children will always need you to confront them about their sins, and encourage them to repent and follow Jesus. Will you let your children know how much you love them, and want the best for them, today? If you know they are living in sin, or particularly in immorality, will you confront them today? Will you read the Bible and pray with your children today?
Family Ministry Center │ Eli Sons of Sin