During her prayer, we meet Eli the priest sitting on his seat (literally, “throne”).
Eli is not a king; he is a priest and a judge (1 Sam 4:18).
Yet his “throne” is a reminder of the Levites’ influential role in the period of the Judges.
The portrayal of Eli is intentionally unimpressive.
In those days, priests stood to offer sacrifice and lead the prayers of the people, sitting down when their work was completed.
But both here and at his death (1 Sam 4:13), we find Eli sitting as though his priestly task is completed, even though Israel is being consumed by religious and political chaos.
Moreover, his rebuke of Hannah, whom he suspects to be drunk when she is in fact fervently praying, reveals a man inclined to rash judgments.
In Eli, we find evidence that everyone lived by what was right in his own eyes, rather than by the ways of the living God.
God remembers Hannah.
Samuel is born and dedicated to the Lord’s service.
Hannah’s song of joy celebrates not only a mother’s redemption from barrenness, but God’s forthcoming redemption of Israel.
The hymn anticipates the imminent reversal of Israel’s fortunes, as the bow of Israel’s pagan oppressors (“the mighty”) will soon be broken while Israel (“the feeble”) girds on strength; the hungry in the land will soon be satisfied, the poor exalted, and the needy given “a seat [literally, “throne”] of honor” (1 Sam 2:8).
This last “reversal” is a prophetic utterance concerning the rise of an Israelite king, as confirmed by the conclusion of Hannah’s song: “The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed” (1 Sam 2:10).
As the New Testament will record, after the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she conceived the King of kings, Mary’s own song of praise, the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55), will echo many themes of Hannah’s song.
Several scenes follow that contrast the depravity of Eli’s household, whose sons greedily steal from the sacrifices offered to God, with the fidelity of Elkanah, Hannah, and Samuel, who faithfully make the yearly pilgrimage to Shiloh.
While Samuel’s parents encourage their son to faithful service of the Lord, Eli’s sons continue unhindered sexual intercourse with women serving at the Lord’s shrine and receive only a weak rebuke from their father.
As Samuel grows “both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men” (1 Sam 2:26), an unnamed prophet pronounces judgment on Eli and his sons, a judgment confirmed when Samuel receives a vision that the days of Eli and his sons are numbered.
This twofold witness, according to Joseph’s maxim (Gn 41:32), seals the end of Eli’s household as fixed by God.
Judgment falls when Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, carry the Ark of the Covenant into battle with the Philistines.
The Ark, which is the footstool of the Lord of hosts who is “enthroned on the cherubim,” is captured, Hophni and Phinehas are slain, and Israel is crushed.
When Eli receives word, he falls from his seat (throne) and breaks his neck.
The Hebrew text here offers a revealing word play: Eli died from the fall because he was old and “heavy” (kaved).
This plays on kavod, the Hebrew word for “glory,” which also means “heaviness” or “weightiness.” Eli, who robbed God of kavod by making himself kaved on the sacrificial meat, is killed by his own sins.
The Ark wreaks havoc wherever it goes, causing the Philistine cities to pass it off to one another like a hot potato.
Among the afflictions caused by this throne of Israel’s God is the destruction of an idol of the god Dagon and the outbreak of rats and tumors among the Philistines.
These chastisements show clearly God’s presence with the Ark.
Why, then, was Israel defeated when she carried the Ark into battle?
Israel cannot ignore the covenant and then presume to force God’s action according to Israel’s desires.
Rather, God’s power is poured out by grace on those who are faithful and repent of any sin, as Samuel is keen to point out (1 Sam 7:3).
Only when God’s people turn away from their idols and place their trust in God alone can victory be attained.
I fell asleep early last night, but I sometimes wish I had half of Fr. Mike’s enthusiasm and vigor after he reads the passages in the Bible. Usually, I just scratch my head and wonder if maybe I’m illiterate ;)
Here we go
Not only do we have this story of the Ark of the Covenant falling into the hands of the Philistines, which is absolutely tragic
There is a reason for that
We also have the beginning of Ch 3 where God calls Samuel
One of the things you may know is this call where Samuel is sleeping and hears God’s call
Back in those days, the voice of The Lord was VERY RARE
People RARELY heard from God
But where is Samuel sleeping?
He is sleeping BEFORE THE ARK OF THE COVENANT, THE ARK OF THE LORD
One of the things we realize is that while others are going about their business doing whatever they were doing, Samuel had camped himself IN THE VERY PRESENCE OF THE LORD
That’s what we are doing here!
When we are listening to the Bible in the Year, we are saying, “Speak, Lord your servant is listening.”
We are placing ourselves under the WATERFALL OF GOD’S GRACE
We are placing ourselves under the WATERFALL OF HIS WORD
We are giving God permission to speak to us
We are putting ourselves in a position where we can HEAR GOD
This is what Samuel did even as a young man
Here is Samuel in the presence of The Lord saying, “This is where I’m going to park myself because if God is going to speak, I’m going to make it as easy for Him to speak. If God is going to speak and I want to hear, I am going to make it as easy for me to hear as possible.”
That’s why we are doing the Bible in a Year
But also, we are PURIFYING SOME OF THE AREAS OF OUR LIVES
So many of our lives have SO MUCH NOISE
We go WHEREVER WE WANT TO GO
If we eliminated some of the EXCESS NOISE and placed ourselves where we knew WE ARE CALLED TO BE then what would change?
What would transform us?
We would be able to HEAR THE LORD BETTER
That’s what Samuel did
Here is Eli who says, “Samuel, the next time you hear the voice of God say ‘Speak Lord, your servant hears’ “
The thing Samuel hears is a PROPHECY, the WORD OF GOD saying that everything that the anonymous prophet had said regarding Eli’s family is coming true now
The light and glory will be taken from Eli’s family
Hophni and Phinehas will die
Eli will die
THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS
The Ark of God is captured
Why is it captured?
Because at this point the People of Israel were treating the Ark not as THE PRESENCE OF GOD HIMSELF, but as a toy...a weapon
One of the things we are tempted to do is that we are TEMPTED TO USE GOD
God has revealed to us that He is BEYOND OUR MANIPULATION
WE CANNOT USE GOD
Here are the Israelites who have been defeated by the Philistines who say that the story was when the Ark of God went into battle, the Israelites would win
The Israelites were willing to use God to win
But that is not how God should be treated
God is not our TOY
God is not our WEAPON
God is not our TRINKET
God is not our “IDOL”
GOD IS GOD
The People of Israel, in treating God like this, they lost THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
It is FASCINATING then, that the Philistines placed the Ark of the Covenant in the SAME TEMPLE AS THEIR GOD
That night, the statue of Dagon falls on its face
The next day, the statue of Dagon falls on its face AGAIN and its hands and head are cut off
There are also a lot of uncomfortable situations going on around Ashdod and people die, boils and tumors and rats show up
No matter where the Ark of the Covenant goes, bad things happen to the Philistines
It turns out that God can FIGHT HIS OWN BATTLES
God is PRETTY TOUGH
The battle that God fights TODAY, is that He fights for YOU AND FOR ME
The battle that God fights TODAY, is he continues to say, “COME INTO MY PRESENCE, LIKE SAMUEL DID.”
“Come into my presence, and park yourself there.”
“Come into my presence, and don’t run away.”
“Come into my presence and abide there, and let me fight for you.”
The Lord God has revealed that He hears the cry of the poor
If your heart is wounded or hurt
If you are poor or have a poverty of spirit
KNOW THAT THE LORD FIGHTS FOR YOU
If you’ve been wounded by life
If you’ve been wounded by others
KNOW THAT THE LORD GOD FIGHTS FOR YOU
He reveals that HE LOVES YOU
HE LOVES YOU!!
God also calls us to REPENTANCE
If Eli had actually CORRECTED Hophni and Phinehas, the story COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT
The same is true FOR US
The same is true FOR THE CHURCH
We have priests who have ABUSED like Hophni and Phinehas
We have bishops who DID NOT PAY ATTENTION like Eli
THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES TO THAT
So we need to, as a Church, whether that’s the Catholic Church, or all Christians throughout the world, we need to be VERY VERY AWARE of the fact that those who minister among us are CALLED TO A HIGH STANDARD
Those who oversee THEM are called to an EVEN HIGHER STANDARD
Because of that, WE NEED PRAYERS
EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US NEEDS PRAYERS
WE ARE ALL SO BROKEN
WE NEED GOD’S GRACE
GOD WANTS TO FIGHT FOR US
We have to be WILLING TO BE FOUGHT FOR
GOD WANTS TO FIGHT FOR US
We have to be willing to BE WON BY GOD
We have to be willing to LET THE LORD HAVE VICTORY OVER US
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
WE NEED EACH OTHER
AND THOSE PRAYERS ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!