1 Samuel 2:12-36: Eli


  • Eli’s sons
  • Eli’s rebuke
  • Eli’s prophecy


To the everyday worshipper in Israel the religious and political leadership of Israel looked hopelessly corrupt. Eli was a weak leader who had allowed his sons to pervert the worship of God and were next in line for succession. Things were looking bleak for the future. However, we have just had Hannah’s song, a song that speaks about God dealing with those who are sinful and exalt themselves, how He will cut off the proud and wicked. We would expect this chapter to open with a war against the Philistines, but instead we see judgement beginning with the house of the Lord. The reader of 1 Samuel is being given an inside line on God’s plan. Outwardly, everything looks corrupt and hopeless, but quietly God is working out His purposes.

The text before us falls naturally into three parts. All three parts give an account of Eli’s life and then interject the boy Samuel. So the first section deals with Eli’s sons, and ends with positive comments about Samuel, 2:18-21; the second section deals with Eli rebuking his hardened sons but ends with positive words about Samuel, v26; the third section is a prophecy against Eli’s house which ends with Samuel 3:1a.

The overarching theological truth that we will see in this section is that God is the shepherd of His sheep and will ultimately provide godly leadership for His people in Christ, He may work unseen but He is working; but there are also several practical points that we can take away about godly leadership in the church and the home.


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