“Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:12
“And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.” 1 Samuel 2:26
Eli, the High Priest to God at Shiloh, had two sons who served as priests at the temple. Their names were Hophni and Phinehas. The first words the scriptures use to describe these men, long before their names are even given, was that they were corrupt and that they did not know the Lord.
What were their sins?
They defiled the peace offerings the people presented to the Lord and they committed fornication with the women that came to the temple.
Regarding the priests’ portion of the peace offering, the only offering of which anyone was allowed to eat, was very specifically delineated: they were to receive the shoulders, the cheeks, and the stomach. The Lords portion was the two kidneys, a specific lobe of the liver, and all the fat covering the entrails. The rest of the offering was allotted to the family to be eaten within two days as part of a religious meal.
What Hophni and Phinehas we’re doing was demanding, and taking by force if necessary, whatever portion they wanted not only defrauding the families of portions that were given by God to them but also defrauding God by demanding a portion of the fat that he had claimed for himself.
By contrast scriptures first description of Samuel was that he “grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.” These same words were used to describe our Savior as he grew up from being a boy of twelve to being a young man.
What a difference! Two young men, serving as priests, yet living lives criminally profane and dissolute. Next to them, in the same house, is a boy growing up in favor with both God and men.
Proverbs chapter twenty-two verse six tells parents this, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” We know from scriptures account that Eli’s permissiveness with his sons was a determining factor in the shaping of his sons’ characters.
I’ve heard many modern parents say that they’re not going to push religion on their children. They’ll let them decide for themselves once they get older.
Everyday this sinful world and our godless society presses its thoughts and values on our children. By not teaching them about God and his ways we’re ensuring that they have little or no choice at all, because we tend to choose between the options we know.
Eli didn’t teach his sons consideration and self control and as a result they dishonored him, themselves, the people coming to worship, the temple, and God. As parents and grandparents we can do better. Our children need us to do our best to teach Godly values so that theycan grow up better able to choose God.