The Reverend Eli High Priest: I Samuel 1
“Eli’s coming…hide your hearts..” Ancient song
(C) 2012 Taveau D’Arcy All copyrights reserved under international law
As she (Hannah) kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth.Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” I Samuel 1:12
In the oft told Bible story in I Samuel, the weeping Hannah is pictured crying out to God on the steps of the temple. Pure hearted Hannah has been berated and repeatedly mocked, her life made unbearable by her competitor, the other wife of her husband, Elkanah, as she had been blessed with many sons and daughters. And in the middle east during that period, children were a sign of God’s blessing and big favor.
Thus when Hannah went barren, year in and year out, the competitive accusative spirit of Peninnah would assault her to make her life unbearable. Even while Elkanah would repeatedly go out of his way to try to comfort and reassure his dear wife Hannah, even giving her a double portion of the temple sacrificial meal, while he gave the other wife and each of her children a single portion, even his act of loving support and compassion only served to remind her of her sorrowful childless state.
Year in and year out, the entire family would travel up to the temple during the yearly worship and sacrifice set times in Shiloh. And on each trip, Peninnah would provoke Godly Hannah to tears. This weeping confused and troubled Elkanah. He wondered why his kind caring was not enough to take away her tears.
Eli was the high priest during this time in Israel. He was a grown man with two evidently grown up sons, who also were priests. However, High Priest Eli had lost his cutting edge somewhere along the ministry line. In leader hindsight: he had not been either a hands on supervising father or else a very discerning,strong disciplinarian, firm one, as neither one of Eli’s big leader priests discerned the holy fear of the Lord.
First Samuel Chapter 2: 12-17 describes how base and worthless his two sons were regarded. V. 12 states, “they did not know or regard the Lord.”also describes persons who are spiritual dull, lacking in clear discernment or holy Eternal perspective ” either one was living a holy life style as unto the Lord, (which in Old Testament /New Testament rules would automatically have disqualified them from serving in such a high office in the temple).
The Bible tells us that both of Eli’s sons were ungodly associate priests. In a similar description about another section of high priesthood, the prophet Ezekiel witnessed the similar life style of regional ministry leadership and gave the Word of from the Lord came was declared in Ezekiel 2:26,
“Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common: they teach that there is no difference between the clean and the unclean.”
And Bible history shows that the sins of the sons of Eli were big generational dysfunctional curses. High priest Eli was also compassion fatigued, spiritual dense and clearly imperceptive,used to being in leadership senior area ministry for at least a few decades.
Being on call, having to listen to all the sad stories, the repeated time taking big talkers, the hormonal complaining controlling women, and then well knowing how busy he kept his daily appointment service , counseling, presiding calendar…all of this mental pressure and over exertion, with the enormous pressures and stress, had also caused Eli to put on a lot of weight. He now was weary, and by this time in his priestly career, had seen all the “stereotypes,” and made his choice to relax and take it as easy as possible between now and his retirement.
And Eli’s great weariness, perhaps ministry, personal, battle fatigue, also perhaps was at least ONE of the reasons that his two sons were big ministry reprobates. Thus, we now see the passage where grieving,sobbing Godly Hannah is crying out to the Lord on the porch steps of the temple. Busy Eli is just sitting there, unwinding after a busy day of solving problems, settling differences and giving marriage and divorce counseling. Surely his own needs were met, but he mostly likely was weary due to his long day in the heat, but then the additional girth on his frame, might have added to the weakened condition.
The last thing Eli felt he needed was one more baggage ridden ANYBODY..much less a hormonal, weak kneed,overly emotional, worried female.BUT there she was!
Still, this was one of God’s true sent messengers, the future Mother of God’s new season in the prophetic and even governmentally. But of course, nobody really perceived that way back then..and of course, nobody really talked much in such a fashion..
Still, it really looked like the “same old, same old’ to seasoned, experienced, and all knowing, dear Brother Eli.
So, on the front porch of the temple, there was young Godly Hannah, crying her heart out. BUT instead of curiously wondering what the real reason was for any weeping woman to be crying so deeply, and instead of the first ministry thought entering Reverend Eli’s tire ministry mind about “O, I hope she’s ok and not suffering!”
Rather, in true Modern Day Revelation 2 Church of Ephesus Lost FIrst Love Lampstand true leader form, instead of discerning GRIEF, SORROW or AGONY, the spiritual dense, over weary, “I’ve seen it all, have done it all , thus by now I know it all” victimized,self pitying, sorrow I am now being disturbed, weak SELF accused incorrectly discerned overwhelming grief and intense sorrow as “WINEBIBBING GONE WILD.” (in other terms: Eli accused Hannah of being drunk!)
APOSTOLIC LEADER LESSONS?
1. Weary Eli, first reaction upon seeing a human (in this case a lone woman) weeping: Accusation VS Immediate Ministry Leader Compassion. Just wondering IF Eli was also in the HALT Ministry Position: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (the HALT position is used by 12 step programs to help people discern when they are at their weakest point and thus would be more easily tempted to fall into temptation, addiction, sexual sin, mental toughness, supersensitivity,more) Luke 4 passage: Christ fasting in the desert heat, all alone, without food, but also realizing how unique his own high calling, identity was: AND that is exactly when the tempter came to trick, to tempt Jesus with a his “Leadership Fast Food.”
2. Eli had grown self content, self satisfied, lost his ministry cutting edge of being genuine, humanly kind, compassionate and accurately discerning. His fruit leads the writer to suspect that after all those years in leadership, Eli assumed that the small things were not as important as the over all business end of running the temple, to make sure it was efficient and that all the weekly paychecks were ready to hand out.
3. Eli had succumbed to the fling of the flesh (enormously obese) which was really more of a sign of the condition of his moral true leader real authority (God’s Head Leader: Moral Spiritual Point Guard, Leader Protector, Ministry Standard Barer): as his senses grew more dull, it greatly impared Eli’s leadership skills.
This moral authority lapse was evident in the fruit of Eli’s 2 sons: Evidently mantled true authority Eli preferred to lay back and either let both of his spiritually high called surely mantled, gifted sons either alone to raise themselves OR else Eli found them both to be too difficult, dominating and laid low avoiding all conflict by avoiding being up front and confrontational.
No strong evidence given to that in Scripture, but due to many life, personal mothering in family, and in ministry leader mentoring, this seems to be a valid possibility.
The GOOD NEWS is that Hannah realized the priest was accusing her of sin, for as weeping Hannah had been beseeching the Lord for a child, Eli, was sitting and observing. The priest could see her lips move but no voice was coming out. So he called to her, “Put that wine away from you!” ch. 1:13
Thankfully Hannah had high self esteem…and real respect for leader authority: Hannah could have been extremely offended and turned away. Or she might have responded back to her high priest with a sarcastic nasty retort. However, proven Godly Hannah did defend her actions by standing up for herself albeit gently and respectfully. She upfront told the priest her problem and explained to Eli she had simply been interceding.
Thankfully also (for High Priest Eli!) he then changed his tone and respectfully, in the spirit of Godly maturity, then agreed in prayers for God to give her a long awaited child. It was very soon after that Hannah conceived the child who turned out to be the first national strength major prophet of Israel: the prophet Samuel (who later grew up to give the word of the Lord to King Saul and then prophetically anoint David to be the King) Eli the priest had weaknesses and strengths. God used Him to mentor the young Samuel for a few years.
But as he grew very old Eli’s 2 sons waxed worse and worse. Finally he could not avoid the profane acts any longer. (ch. 2:22) He finally stood up spiritually and took a firm moral approach to finally confront both his wayward lost sons, who by this time, were widely known for ripping off the local temple donations (offerings of fat and meat given at the door by the people) and also laying with the volunteer, helps temple females.
Yet, if the voice tone of the High Priest in Chapter 2: 22-25 was Eli’s strongest method of rising up to stand in his own fathering, patriarchal, as in High Priestly power and strong authority, it must have been pretty powerless and apparently non confrontational and weak, as it sounds that way (at least to this writer) but then it appears that long before, both priestly Big Boys had tested God repeatedly so that by right now it was far too late.
Verse 25 Says that Eli finally acknowledged that it was one type of sin to pay no attention to their natural father, but it was quite another to avoid, disrespect and arrogantly fail to heed, to pay attention to the Heavenly Father….for as I Samuel 1:1 tragically states, “It was now the Lord’s will to slay both of them” Which He eventually did.
And regrettably, when Eli heard the terrible news about the death of his two sons, he fell over backwards due to his enormous over weight problem and the Bible says he broke his neck. Such was the high price the High Priest, Minister Reverend Eli paid for his own choices to remain morally weak, accepting, complacent and spiritually stereotyping and dense.
(C) 2012 Taveau D’Arcy All copyrights reserved under international law.