God’s Secret Agent
God, as we read unwelcome truths about ministers in Samuel’s time. We pray for purity and humility in our leaders today.
Read 1 Samuel 2:12–26
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. 15 But 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.”
16 If 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 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 the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21 And 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 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.
26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectAre we glad that God sees our heart—or do we wish we had a place to hide?
“Power tends to corrupt,” declared Lord Acton in 1887—writing to a bishop! The Christian church is shamed and God is dishonored when young and vulnerable people are abused by the guardians and caregivers who should be protecting them.
Eli’s sons, the young priests at the shrine of Shiloh, are exploitative (13,14) and promiscuous (22). They defy what is holy by helping themselves to the sacrifices of the pilgrims and the persons of their staff. The precious gifts of food and sex, which should be received from God with reverence and thanksgiving, are belittled and desecrated.
Esau, similarly, let his greed be his ruin (Gen. 25:29–34), and King David would be undone by lust (2 Sam. 11:2–4). The young priests’ behavior is a scandal, which even Eli is unable to curb (23–25). But God sees—and is already providing an unlikely champion: the child growing quietly within the system (21,26) will emerge to challenge its corruption in God’s name.
What is your special place as God’s child in your family, church and community? How can you show them that you belong to God?
Lord, help me to encourage what is good and true; and give me wisdom and courage to confront and change what offends You.
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