On Wednesday nights, I’m teaching a survey of the Old Testament. This class has proven to be a great boon to my knowledge of that portion of Scripture, and has greatly lifted my faith.
Last night, we surveyed First Samuel. In the opening chapters, of course, we spoke of both Samuel and the priest, Eli. While this class is more informational, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to present a word of application, and I wanted to share it with you, as well.
Honestly, Eli is one of the most fascinating people in Scripture to me. He was, seemingly, quite concerned with the role of being a priest, and he was (for whatever reason) open to God’s messages, even if they were stinging rebukes. Additionally, Eli seemed to do an admirable job in training Samuel for service for God.
In those opening chapters of First Samuel, though, we are also told of two other men: Hophni and Phinehas. These two younger men were the sons of Eli, and to say they were dishonorable would be an understatement. They were completely flippant with the sacrifices, and were also involved in sexual sins.
Why? The text tells us that Samuel “did not restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:13). The total lack of respect by these sons was due to a total lack of restraint by their father.
Several times, I have heard the story of Eli and his sons used as a cautionary tale for preachers. It seems that Eli was more concerned with getting his spiritual “work” done than in raising spiritual children. That certainly is an important application.
But I want every dad, no matter what you do for a living, to see a very clear message in Eli’s failure.
Eli got his job all wrong.
This priest knew his occupation very well. If there was a job description he had to sign, he would have been able to point to a job well done. He knew being a priest inside and out.
But Eli forgot that his number one job wasn’t to be a priest of the nation. His number one job was to be a father to Hophni and Phinihas. Dads, you may be a great doctor, teacher, engineer, preacher, technician, or any number of other things. You are to be commended for your dedication to providing the monetary needs of your family and demonstrating a strong work ethic.
But your number one job doesn’t require you to commute in the morning or bring home a check at the end of the week. Your number one job includes reading Dr. Suess books, playing hide-n-seek, catching fireflies, and singing “This Little Light of Mine.”
And, yes, it includes a restraining hand, as well.
Let Eli’s failure be a warning to every dad. Let’s all remember what our true number one job is, and put our focus there.
Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema on Creative Commons
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