Through Eli’s Eyes (1 Samuel 3)

As I continue walking with Jesus I’m realizing that I require structure when I read Scripture and I probably always will. Knowing this about myself, I had started a reading plan with great gusto and all kinds of good intentions a few months ago and promptly forgot about it. Pretty typical.

Anyways… a friend of mine recently reminded me of the forgotten reading plan and I am so thankful she did! I am happily pursuing it again and am forcing myself to ignore the “dates” next to each of the readings. Instead I focus on the check box as I mark off each passage and ignore the corresponding date from  July, June… ok FINE… MAY. I’m a work in progress. 🙂

Currently I’m reading through 1 Samuel and am really enjoying it. The stories and the plot twists and the blundering Israelites, and the mighty Philistines.. it’s fascinating! I’m beginning to appreciate just how rich the Old Testament is with history and doctrine.

As I was reading  May 15’s a passage this weekend I was particularly drawn to the character of Eli. Eli is an old blind priest who teaches young Samuel the ways of a priest and is the father of two worthless sons who have no respect for God and man. Got it? OT Cliff Notes at its finest.

This passage (1 Samuel 3) begins with an amusing scenario: Young Samuel is sleeping, while Eli is sleeping in another room. Then enters the third character: God. God speaks to Samuel, “Samuel!” Samuel perks up, shuffles over to Eli and says “Here I am!” Can you imagine the confusion? Eli tells Samuel he didn’t call him and to go back to sleep. This same scene happens THREE TIMES before it dawns on Eli, “Waaaaait a second. GOD is calling you, you nincompoop! Go back and if he calls you again, for pete’s sake, answer him!”

Or maybe he just said: “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.”” – 1 Samuel 3:9

God calls for Samuel again and finally speaks with him. God tells Samuel (paraphrased), “Eli’s sons are such a disgrace and Eli has not done anything to discipline them therefore the sin of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by the offering of many sacrifices and in one day I will destroy them all. Got it? Goodnight Samuel!”

*cricket cricket*

Fast forward to the next morning when Eli asks Samuel what God told him. Can you imagine what’s racing through Samuel’s mind right now?

v.15b “And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli” Chyeah. No kidding.

What I imagine Samuel says to Eli that morning over breakfast: “Hey Eli! Did you sleep ok? Oh by the way your whole family is going to be wiped off of the face of the earth in one day and no amount of sacrifices will atone for the sin committed by those in your house. Butter for your toast? K I gotta go polish the candelabras, BYE!”

Instead, Samuel tells Eli everything the Lord told him and THIS — THIS is where my jaw dropped. Check out Eli’s response:

“It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.” (v.18)

Uh. Eli? I think your hearing must have abandoned ship with your eyesight – YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE IN ONE DAY!

“It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”

I was absolutely floored by this. I stared at verse 18 and thought, “Really?…Wha….REALLY?!” I expected ash and sackcloth, mourning and lamenting, or tears of anger and bitterness at the very least! And as soon as I thought of what I expected from Eli, I was ashamed. Instantly I placed Eli in the right and God in the wrong. Without even realizing it I “sided” with the person who was just told some horrific news instead of trusting the sovereign, all-knowing, ever-loving, mercy-giving God. I’m not saying it’s wrong to sympathize with Eli — he received some devastating news! Nor is it wrong for us to come alongside those who are hurting, and “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). But Eli’s response shows us an incredible picture of an intimate and secure relationship with the Lord. Of all the facts that  Eli just heard regarding his family’s destruction he chose to focus on the messenger rather than the message.

I am deeply humbled by this. There will be a day where I will get news that is going to turn my world upside down. Tragedy is inevitable in a world that continues to shun its only Hope for redemption. But how will I respond? Will I weep? Certainly. Will I hurt? Absolutely. Will I cling to the Lord? Will I trust in His sovereign plan? I don’t know.

Right now I have a “Let him do what seems best for ME” attitude rather than a “Let him do what seems good to him” perspective. And it makes me afraid to think I am still so keenly leaning on my own understanding rather than trusting in the Lord – the complete opposite of Proverbs 3:5-6.

What about you reader? When chaos threatens the peace of your home, when silence rings in your ears after an argument, when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel… Who do you look to? Is it the LORD? Are you familiar with Him so that in the midst of your terrible pain, you know He’s there? Do you trust Him?

Will you join me in praying for the perspective of Eli?

May we begin to see God for who He is, through the blind eyes of a faithful priest.

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. – Psalm 145:8-9 –
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