For I told him that I would judge his family forever
because of the sin he knew about;
his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.
1 Samuel 3:13 (NIV)
So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 1 Samuel 3:18 (NIV)
The elderly man Eli had been a judge in the nation Israel for 40 years. While he loved the Lord and served faithfully himself, he allowed his sons to sin without proper rebuke or restraint.
God judged Eli for being an indulgent father. The message of judgment on Eli and his sons was that Eli’s descendants would not inherit the position Eli had with the Lord. We read of the sad end of the two sons in 1 Samuel 4:11 where it is recorded they died in battle.
When Eli heard the prophecy of the end of his family through the young man Samuel his heart must have broken. He knew that he had the responsibility to judge his sons’ evil but he did not. All Eli did, as judge in Israel, was give his sons a verbal rebuke. What he ought to have done was cut them off from the nation as the law required. No reasons are given for Eli’s spoiling of his sons and guessing is, therefore, not appropriate.
When Eli heard the judgment of God against him and his sons, he quietly accepted the decision of the Lord recognizing that God was just to bring down judgment on his family.
Another story with a similar point is that of the repentant thief as recorded in Luke 23:39-43. There the thief accepted his punishment of death for the crimes he had committed. All he asked of Jesus was to be “remembered” when Jesus came in His kingdom.
The thief knew he ought to suffer the consequences for his crimes. This was just and right. However, he also had a notion of Jesus being One Who was gracious and so he asked to be made a part of His eternal kingdom.
I suggest that both Eli and the repentant thief had the grace of submission. They both accepted the fact that God’s judgment for their sin was righteous and they could not complain about what they must suffer in this life.
Eli and the repentant thief were prepared to accept the consequences of their wrong doing in this life if only the Lord would be gracious to them in the life to come. Perhaps you find yourself in the same position today. Through your rebellion against the Lord you now suffer for your sins.
Seek the grace of submission. Accept the consequences in this life for wrong doing. Then ask the Lord for grace to be accepted into His eternal kingdom. God delights in being gracious. Pray Eli’s words, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” Then pray the repentant thief’s prayer, “Lord remember me when you come in your kingdom.” He will hear and answer your prayer today.