Light Shining in Darkness
Lord Jesus, You are the way to God, the truth about God, and the life in God. I praise You.
Read 1 Samuel 2:12-26
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4,5).
The account of the piety of Samuel and his parents (18-21) shines more brightly for being surrounded by the impious arrogance of Eli’s sons and Eli’s own compromised example (12-17,22-25). Although Samuel is much younger than Eli’s sons, the narrator uses na’ar for both, perhaps to highlight the contrast in their ages and supposed maturity (17 “young men,” v. 18 “boy”).
The dark surrounding describes arrogant priests taking whatever they want, be it meat or women. Priests were entitled to specified portions of sacrifices (Lev. 7:30-34), but Eli’s sons snatched the choice parts, excessively and in advance (leaving less for the worshipers), and this before the fat was burned, denying God’s prior claim (Lev. 3:16). Eli is later accused of sharing the food (29), and he only weakly challenges his sons after he “hears from all the people” (23) about their sexual wickedness. Being in holy places in holy roles is no protection from greed and immorality and, perversely, may be used to justify such behavior. Misuse of religious power continues in various forms, yet Hannah’s song has already pointed to God’s reversal, and Eli’s own words show awareness of judgment (25).
How different is Hannah’s giving of her son to minister before the Lord (11,18) and the consistent faithful worship of Hannah and Elkanah. While Eli’s sons “knew not the Lord” (12, KJV; TNIV, NRSV “had no regard for”), Samuel’s growth is “in the presence of the Lord” (21, literally “with the Lord”). He grew “in favor with the Lord and with people” (26; c.f. Luke 2:52). It is possible to grow up and minister in the midst of corruption, for God is still present there. One does not have to move to a more favorable setting. The darker the surroundings, the brighter a candle shines.
How are you an example of “light” to children in your family or church, helping them to grow “in favor with the Lord” and with people?
Father, at times I feel I am being swallowed up by the darkness around me. Help me to light candles of witness and hope where You have placed me.