1 Samuel 2:1-36
There are two clear attitudes depicted and contrasted in this second chapter of 1 Samuel. There is the one who loves, reveres and glorifies the LORD. And there are the ones who dishonor and disregard Him, treating Him with contempt. The LORD sees the hearts of all men and He brings to each their due.
1 Samuel 2 begins with Hannah’s song of praise to the LORD who has heard her prayer and granted her a son. It is evident in her song that her joy is not on account of receiving what she wanted, but rather receiving the LORD himself. He is the source of her joy. He is the source of her strength. It is His character that causes the song to well up in her and praise His name. Her heart exults in the LORD and her rejoicing is on account of salvation through Him (v.1). He is a God that exalts the weak and brings low the proud, the God that turns the tides of those who suffer and satisfies those who thirst and hunger for Him (v.5, 7). He is the Sovereign of all the world and He protects the faithful while punishing the wicked (v.8-9). There is none that can stand against Him for He will judge all (v.10). Hannah worships the LORD in song because He is good and because she has tasted and seen His goodness. The LORD sees her faithfulness to Him and her true worship and continues to bless her with more children (v.21).
Not so the sons of Eli, the priest of the temple in which Samuel serves. In stark contrast, Eli’s two sons are described as “worthless men” who “did not know the LORD” (v.12). Though serving as His priests in His holy temple, carrying the honor of interceding for the Israelites and mediating between God and man, they “treated the offering of the LORD with contempt,” seeking good for themselves at the expense of obeying God’s commands. Their actions dishonored God, drawing His wrath and attention to their wickedness. Just as the LORD sees Hannah’s worshipful heart, He also sees the sinful hearts of Eli’s sons, for it says their sins were “very great in the sight of the LORD” (v.17). Eli, too, is not without guilt. Though he rebukes his sons for their behavior and attempts to curb their poor behavior, it is clear that in his heart, his sons hold a higher place than the LORD. Eli is confronted by a man of God who accuses him of honoring his sons above God, even after the LORD chose him, his fathers, his tribe for the privilege to be His priests. Even in light of such a great honor, one that relies fully on the grace of God and no merit of their own, Eli and his sons fail to honor God above all else, choosing their own glory and honor over the LORD God almighty (v.27-29). This, too, the LORD sees, and this, too, the LORD will repay.
There will be consequences for their sins, as there always are. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) and death is proclaimed for Eli’s sons. Furthermore, the house of the Levites will be replaced by one who will faithfully keep the holy commandments given by God, honoring Him as the LORD and serving Him from a pure heart.
The LORD sees our hearts. Man can be deceived. Masks can be worn. Parts can be played. But nothing is hidden from the LORD. He is constant in His nature. The God of Hannah and the God of Eli and his sons is the same God we serve today. He remembers the faithful. He exalts the lowly because they trust in Him, because they exult and rejoice in His salvation. But those who refuse and reject Him, those who in their hearts hold him in contempt and disregard, they will see the wrath of God. Let us examine our hearts continually. Let us not become complacent or comfortable, making excuses for our sins or pretending that we can hide anything from the LORD. He is our Creator and He is our Lord and Savior. He knows our hearts and longs for us to know Him, for then we shall praise Him with joy and thanksgiving when we have tasted and seen His goodness.