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Godly Leadership Needed

1 Samuel: A Heart for God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  50:25
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We see in the downfall of the house of Eli that nothing else matters like honoring God. God’s favor is upon those who honor him supremely. More than anyone else, leaders must lead like nothing else matters like honoring God.

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1 Samuel 2:27-36 - Godly Leadership Needed

Please turn with me in your Bibles today to 1 Samuel 2. As you’re doing so, I ask you: Why should we concern ourselves with events that took place more than 3,000 years ago?
Why does it matter that a barren woman named Hannah bore a son? What is that to me?
So Eli turned out to mostly be a good guy himself but a poor example of parenting?… but he was a priest before God in Israel… with some pretty serious consequences for lazy parenting… not sure how that applies to me.
May God grant us eyes to see and ears to hear that the same God who dealt with Eli and whom Samuel served is the God who has the power to take our hearts and make them his own, to teach us to honor him above all else.
Let’s review some verses and then pray together:
At the end of the period of the Judges, “there was a certain man... whose name was Elkanah.”
1 Samuel 1:2 ESV
He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
1 Samuel 1:10–11 ESV
She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
1 Samuel 1:20 ESV
And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”
After she had weaned the child, Hannah and Elkanah brought the child to Eli at Shiloh.
1 Samuel 1:27–28 ESV
For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
And Hannah shared a psalm of prayer and praise to God:
1 Samuel 2:1–2 ESV
And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
1 Samuel 2:11 ESV
Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.
1 Samuel 2:12 ESV
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.
1 Samuel 2:18 ESV
Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod.
But Eli’s sons continued treating worship offerings to God with contempt, as well as committing adultery with the young women who served at the tabernacle. Finally, and we don’t really know why, Eli is prompted to rebuke them.
1 Samuel 2:23–25 ESV
And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.

From Passive Parenting to Godly Leadership

Last time we observed in Eli an example of Failed Leadership - Passive Parenting: How Even Good Men Fail as Fathers
There’s a definite contrast in the text between what was going on with Eli’s worthless sons, who were disobeying and dishonoring God while they were in fact supposed to be guides and helpers for the people to worship… but were instead a detriment and distraction.
Contrasting that with Samuel, who was just a boy, but was honoring God with his simple service. - Samuel was a Son of Prayer, he was Dressed to Serve, and… last but certainly not least… he was in God’s favor.
So the contrast really becomes btwn Eli’s passive parenting and the effective parental leadership of Hannah and Elkanah, despite their limited time with their son. - I mean, they weren’t perfect parents. Look, Elkanah had two wives… you know THAT was a hurdle. But these people feared and honored God and aimed to make sure their son did the same. - But with Eli, even when he rebuked his sons, it was ultimately weak and pointless bc the scolding lacked accountability.
And of course then there is a great contrast btwn God’s blessing on the one and judgment on the other.
So we saw in our discussion of that section a lot of what we should not do and perhaps by extension a little of what we should do. Bc since I didn’t get to it last time, please allow me to share with you a short summary list of what we should do:
Instead of Passive Parenting, What Should We Do?
Praise God for them in their presence, Pray with them and for them, Instruct them in truth (openly and often - Show them the way to personal faith in Christ. Teach them the ways of God and to have a reverence for God and the things of God.) & Train them to serve, Discipline and correct them for destructive attitudes and behaviors, and enjoy watching them grow in favor with God and man.
{This doesn’t have to apply only to parents…] Praise God for his revelation in your life, Pray daily (and more) for God to have his way in your heart, Devote yourself to knowing God from His word… & Be trained in service, Accept discipline and correction, and Be thankful and joyful in bearing fruit for the glory of God.
Now heading back towards our text for today, remember too we said last week:
The grievousness of the sins of Eli’s sons is matched only by the failed leadership of their father.
Parents… grandparents… believers one to another — you want a clear conscience before God that you are leading others toward him and not passively standing by while people in your circle stray from God while you do nothing.
So while there are no perfect parents, there are some demonstrating real faithfulness in commitment to discipling their children. We should learn from them and team up with one another for accountability.
Today we will reinforce and further demonstrate: Every godly leader honors God before and beyond anything or anyone else.
In leadership, nothing else matters like honoring God.
Dads… nothing else matters like honoring God. Mothers… Bosses and employees… Teachers, coaches, mentors… even boys and girls… When we lead, nothing else matters like honoring God.
Now in order to finish vv. 27-36, I want to emphasize something in v. 25 that we didn’t have time for last week. V. 25 gives us:

God’s Justice on Display

God is a just God. He doesn’t and he can’t just let sin slide. Now it may often seem to us that such is the case (“while evil men and imposters go from bad to worse” 2 Tim. 3:13), but he promises that it is not. The guilty will not go unpunished. Our sin will reap payment in the end. So…

God’s justice means we need mediation. (v. 25a)

Because of God’s perfect justice, God the Son, became man in order that Jesus might die as an atoning sacrifice and propitiation for our sins:
Romans 3:26 ESV
It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
We receive the benefit of that mediation, which he alone accomplished, by faith in Jesus.

God judicially hardens those who refuse to repent. (v. 25b)

As with other places this takes place in the scriptures, it appears these people were so determined in their rebellion against God that God entered into the hardening process so that he could accomplish his purposes in spite of, and yet in and through, what was at first their own self-hardening. It is God’s prerogative, as God, to do this (Rom. 9:18-21).
Romans 9:18–21 ESV
So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
But that we are morally responsible for our condition is a theological given, and we are warned not to harden our hearts as they did:
Hebrews 3:12 ESV
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
Hebrews 3:15 ESV
As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
So again, it is in this context of a perfectly just God that we find this response to Eli and his sons:

God’s Message to Eli

An unnamed prophet first declares (from the mouth of God) the kindness and faithfulness of God.
He then explains Eli’s wrongdoing, and states his decision.
Finally, he proclaims God’s plan for punishment and his plan to replace Eli’s house with a faithful priesthood.
And here Samuel becomes the foreshadowing of the promise’s fulfillment.

God reminds Eli of his faithfulness. (vv. 27-28)

1 Samuel 2:27–28 ESV
And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel.
The obvious answer to the questions is, YES. Yes, you did God. Yes, you gave us a great privilege and responsibility.
“House of your father” - One of the sons of Aaron, Ithamar, is the direct ancestor of Eli. Aaron’s other son was Eleazar, who was actually the oldest and became the next high priest after Aaron. We actually don’t know how it transferred to Eli’s (Ithamar’s) side at some point, but we do know how it gets put back!
If you wonder about that list in v. 28, those are simply the three primary priestly responsibilities.
“I gave to the house of your father all offerings” - God had made provision for the tribe of Levi through the offerings. But he had also given them instructions for HOW to do about it.
It is because of the goodness and faithfulness of God that we realize that for us, nothing else matters like honoring God.

God explains Eli’s sin. (v. 29)

How is Eli culpable, responsible? - Interestingly, God uses a question to give this answer!
1 Samuel 2:29 ESV
Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’
Here’s the crux of it: “honoring your sons above me” - Eli isn’t directly responsible for their misconduct (although he may be indirectly responsible for passive parenting), but they themselves are culpable for their sins. Rather, Eli “is condemned for his own sin—honoring his sons more than the Lord.” - Bergen, R. D. (1996). 1, 2 Samuel (Vol. 7, p. 82). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Honor - to be heavy, weighty
IN contrast to honor is scorn (to look down on with disdain, conceived of as kicking someone - to treat something with such contempt so as to kick at it, tread, or trample)
Do you honor God in service to him or do you scorn the role he has given you? - Whatever he has given us to do, nothing else matters like honoring God.

God declares his decision. (v. 30)

Which is always based on his character.
1 Samuel 2:30 ESV
Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
“I promised… Far be it from me” - Is God going back on his word? Well, two things:
For one, God is able to punish Eli’s future lineage and still maintain his promised priesthood, which we will see.
But it should also be noted that Eli and his sons had breached contract with God. Though God had promised, he can revoke that promise when the terms of that promise are willfully disregarded.
So God says: “For I will honor those who honor me, but those who despise me will be cursed!” (NET Bible)
Does the principle remain true? - John 12:26
John 12:26 ESV
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

God pronounces judgment. (vv. 31-34, 36)

On both Eli and his descendants.
1 Samuel 2:31–34 ESV
Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day.
Eli’s chopped off arms. - In other words, his strength, his influence will be removed. And would watch trouble and blessing from the outside looking in, with no option to do anything about it.
His sons would die on the same day (and that would be a sign to Eli that all the rest would be fulfilled).
Which is that even his descendants will continue to experience untimely deaths. Once specific instance occurs when Saul massacres the priest at Nob. Only Abiathar escapes at the time, but much later Solomon banishes him, and 1 Kings 2:27 explains:
1 Kings 2:27 ESV
So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, thus fulfilling the word of the Lord that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
Finally, v. 36 - Instead of being well provided for from God’s bounty to his priests, Eli’s house won’t be gorging themselves on meat but will be begging for bread.
1 Samuel 2:36 ESV
And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.” ’ ”
Leadership accountability - You are accountable for how your decisions impact others. While you do not control individual responses to God, you do have a great responsibility, either leading people to God or away from God. Thus the punishment impacted Eli’s entire house. When parents sin… when church shepherds sin, or elevate themselves, or lead people in wrong directions… they are heaping up judgment for themselves, and it hurts others.
BTW, I find it exceedingly disappointing that Eli receives this warning from a prophet of God and still does nothing. It’s in his favor that he submits to God’s discipline, but we never see repentance. - Godly leaders repent. They turn away from wrong and return to honoring God. The time for repentance is now.

God proclaims his plan. (v. 35)

1 Samuel 2:35 ESV
And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.
Even as the death of his sons was a sign of future fulfillment, so also Samuel the rise of Samuel as a faithful prophet and priest to judge Israel foreshadows the fulfillment of this prophecy to come later:

In human terms this was fulfilled when the priesthood was taken from Abiathar, descendant of Aaron’s son Ithamar, and given to Zadok, descendant of Aaron’s son Eleazar (1 Kings 2:27, 35). But in the ultimate sense the “faithful Priest” and “Anointed One” are One and the same, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is both Priest and King (Ps. 110; Heb. 5:6; Rev. 19:16).

God’s favor is on those who honor him supremely. Live like honoring God counts for more than all other rewards. Honor God and fear Him above personal comfort and convenience, above acclaim from men.

Godly Leadership Needed

The downfall of the house of Eli should serve as both warning and motivation to lead like nothing else matters but to honor God.
No leader is irreplaceable. God can and will elevate humble men and women who have a heart for his glory that shows itself in obedience to his gracious command.
However, it needs to be said that you are God’s plan A for your family. You can be God’s plan A at school, work, and in your neighborhood to be the beautiful Church of Christ.
You must first be changed, then you must learn to live like what you’ve become!
So who cares what happened 3000 years ago with God’s people? We do! Does God honor those who honor him? You bet he does.
God IS raising up for himself faithful men and women, boys and girls, who will be fully devoted to him, who will lead like nothing else matters but to honor God. Which will you be?
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