“Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy.”1 Samuel 3:8
Young Samuel was left in Eli’s care to be brought up in the ways of God. The old high priest had once condemned the mother of his successor by falsely accusing her of being drunk. Eli’s discernment was skewed because he harbored sin, “which he knew.” He judged incorrectly. Where he failed with Hophni and Phinehas, the Lord would not allow Eli to repeat with Samuel. God’s design was that Samuel would succeed to all Eli’s forfeited offices. Divine vision would no longer be silenced by sin. God would work through the life of Samuel to lead the nation of Israel once again.
Feasts and services instituted by God were established as reminders of who He is and what He has done. It was the responsibility of parents to share with their children the meaning behind the celebrated customs (Exodus 12:26). It would seem that Eli was once again failing in this area. We find Samuel, after years spent with his mentor, lacking in knowledge of the Lord. As God begins calling the young man, we are told, “Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.” Physical care was provided, yet spiritual instruction was neglected.
It is possible that Eli took upon himself burdens beyond any mortal power to perform. He held the office of both Moses and Aaron, assuming the roles of high priest and judge. Not only that, but he also attempted to run both God’s house and his own. It was inevitable that carrying all these responsibilities alone, he would perform none of them effectively. His family and the nation suffered as a result.
As many of us today pursue happiness for ourselves, how are we imparting the knowledge of the Lord to our successors? We must first lead our own households well before giving vision to others (1 Timothy 3:4). As Christians, we are not called off to fight every battle while there are wars still raging in our homes. Take care of that which is primary, and the Lord will establish your path. It could be you are raising up the next Samuel!
“Both his high priesthood at the altar, and his chief judgeship at the gate, and his sole fatherhood in his own house;p both God’s house and his own house, and the whole house of Israel, went to wreck and ruin under overladen Eli.”– Alexander Whyte