1 Samuel 3:
Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.
One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle, near the Ark of God. Suddenly, the Lord called out, “Samuel!”
“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did.
Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!”
Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.”
Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed.
And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family, from beginning to end. I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.”
Samuel stayed in bed until morning, then got up and opened the doors of the Tabernacle as usual. He was afraid to tell Eli what the Lord had said to him. 16 But Eli called out to him, “Samuel, my son.”
“Here I am,” Samuel replied.
“What did the Lord say to you? Tell me everything. And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!” So Samuel told Eli everything; he didn’t hold anything back. “It is the Lord’s will,” Eli replied. “Let him do what he thinks best.”
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle.
As I read through this chapter, I was reminded of a song from the band Gravity Kills, called “Guilty”. Basically, he’s talking about somebody else judging him, but he’s also reminding them that though he admits that he is in fact guilty, they’re guilty, too, because they’re doing the same thing.
In 1 Samuel 3, we learn of Samuel’s call from God. The chapter starts out saying “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” This is disturbing to me, for it shows that not only were God’s people not fluent in His Word, but that visions weren’t even common. That means no prophets, nobody talking out in God’s name…like everybody was just idle in their ways and comfortable in the ways of the world. But what a perfect time for Samuel to come out on the scene.
So everybody was sleeping. The Lord called out to Samuel, waking him up, but at first, Samuel thought it was Eli calling him. So he obediently went to Eli for instructions. After the third time that God called the boy, Eli realized that it was the Lord calling him. So he told Samuel what to do the next time God calls for him. So when He did, Samuel did as Eli instructed him, and the Lord said to him, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”
After this, the Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
So it was bad enough that Eli’s sons were breaking the Law, but just as bad that Eli, the authority (their authority) did nothing to stop them. So in not doing anything to stop their sins, Eli was just as guilty as his sons.
Some examples today:
- Police who allow crimes to be committed
- Police/authorities who allow other police/officials to break the law
- Parents with sinful kids
- Church members who justify and allow sin among other believers/members
- Ones who know of a sin about to happen, yet tell no one or don’t try to prevent it.
3) Not an example of child’s sin condemning the parent. The sin of the parents was that they knew about their sins, yet did nothing to correct them or atone for them. For example, today, parents who know their kids are in gangs and committing crimes. They know their kids are guilty, yet not only allow it, but attempt covering it up and/or protecting them from the authorities…they’re now just as guilty as their kids’ crimes (and they would also be arrested).
5) Somebody knows about a planned crime, but tells no one or doesn’t do anything to prevent it from happening. Because they knew, yet did nothing, they’re just as guilty as the one committing the crime.
1) Police who see a crime occurring, or know about it, yet do nothing. For example, by the mob/mafia. Out of fear or payoff, they don’t kill, they just allow it to happen. Therefore, they’re just as guilty as the one pulling the trigger (because they’re the authority…it’s their job to do something and they don’t).
2) (Same as #1)
4) In a particular church where I was called to serve, there was much sin already, and continuing to occur:
- The Pastor allowed, even justified and performed, an adultery-based marriage (2 people divorced their spouses to marry each other). The Pastor never confronted either of the guilty parties of their sins. (He even continued to allow them to remain in church leadership and readers during the worship services). Therefore, the Pastor is just as guilty as them because he knew about their sin, yet did nothing to correct them.
- Some members were known for their sins, yet nobody stepped forward to rebuke them. Therefore, they’re just as guilty, because:
- The Body is supposed to hold other members accountable for their sins, actions and behaviors.
- Since nobody did anything, it gave the sinners power to continue committing sins in the church, even getting the church’s authority to back them up in their sins →guilty, too.
- When certain youths misbehaved, and I attempted to correct them, I was rebuked and they were supported. In other words, the authority was rebuked and the sin was supported. So those who supported the sin were just as guilty/responsible as those committing it.
This all says something to us today as the Church. If we notice somebody in the church that’s sinning, it’s our responsibility to rebuke and correct them. If they reject us, then disciplinary measures should be taken.
Jesus and Paul both mentioned about Church discipline in that if somebody sins against you (or you learn of their sin), you must bring it to them in confidentiality and give them a chance to repent (Eli did this, but didn’t follow through when they refused to repent).
If they don’t repent, then bring others with you next time to rebuke you (Eli should have done this with elders or others who complained).
If again they refuse to repent, then bring them before the whole congregation. If they again refuse to repent, kick them out or remove them from your presence (and office/position of leadership). When they’re ready to repent, they may return, but until then, they must be sent into a time-out. Otherwise, all who know of the unrepentant sin will be held accountable by God, and in just as much trouble as the one(s) committing the sin.
In my mom’s old church, the music director, who also participated in worship and communion, was openly gay, as well as promoting sin while in his leadership position. My mom’s husband brought it to the Pastor’s attention, but instead of doing anything correct, the Pastor promoted and encouraged the sin. When it was realized that there was nothing more he could do, he and my mom left that church altogether. My mom’s husband took the position of the people who were being sinned against by Eli’s sons. The Pastor, on the other hand, took the position of Eli, for he was the authority, and it was his responsibility as the head authority to rebuke and discipline the sinner. But by not doing so, he, just like Eli, was now just as guilty as the unrepentant sinner. And as a result, many have since left the church, tithes have gone down, the Pastor fired pretty much all his staff, and the church is struggling.