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They that despise me shall be lightly esteemed

I Samuel   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:46
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Introduction:
This morning we are going to be examining the story of the downfall of the house of Eli. Eli is a priest, in fact he is functioning as the high priest, he is the spiritual head of all of Israel, and he allows himself to make some pretty bad spiritual decisions that cause God to judge not only Eli himself, but the rest of his family legacy. That is how bad things got for Eli. I want to share with you one verse in this story as we begin. It is the verse that we will be driving towards as we tell this particular story.
1 Samuel 2:30 (KJV 1900) — 30 Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
Eli, made a series of bad spiritual decisions (we would call that sin), that ultimately led him, to despise the very name of God.
How is it, that Eli (and by way of extension any of us) could allow sin to get so bad in his life, that he ended up despising the very name of God?

I. Scene #1- The Big Problem (2:12-17)

A. When we sin we exchange God’s ways for our own ways for selfish reasons (2:12-15)

1 Samuel 2:12–15 KJV 1900
12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord. 13 And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; 14 And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. 15 Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.
i. In the OT Law God had already provided a system for the priests to be provided for.
a. Leviticus 7:34–36 (KJV 1900) — 34 For the wave breast and the heave shoulder have I taken of the children of Israel from off the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons by a statute for ever from among the children of Israel. 35 This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, out of the offerings of the Lord made by fire, in the day when he presented them to minister unto the Lord in the priest’s office; 36 Which the Lord commanded to be given them of the children of Israel, in the day that he anointed them, by a statute for ever throughout their generations.
b. Hophni and Phineas devised their own methods for getting the very best pieces of meat. They would send out a servant with a three pronged fork and take exactly what they wanted.
c. They would even take the meat before the fat was burned. The fat was usually burned for the Lord.
1. Leviticus 3:5 (KJV 1900) — 5 And Aaron’s sons shall burn it (the fat) on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is upon the wood that is on the fire: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.
2. Leviticus 7:25 (KJV 1900) — 25 For whosoever eateth the fat of the beast, of which men offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, even the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people.
Hophni and Phineas exchanged God’s ways for their own ways and their motivation was complete selfishness. They were not satisfied with what God had provided for them. They wanted more. What they ended up doing was exchanging their fellowship with God for a piece of meat. How often is that the reason behind our own sin? We buy into the lie that our own way is better than God’s way. But if we stop and evaluate our thinking we surely would see just plain old selfishness at the center of our sin.

B. Sometimes our sin can force others to disobey God, or it can do damage to other’s view of God. (2:16-17)

1 Samuel 2:16–17 KJV 1900
16 And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. 17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.
i. The laypeople in Israel were at least trying to get the priests to give the Lord his portion first. But if they refused the priests would take the offering by force.
ii. “The MT suggests that the priestly actions were causing the worshipers (Hb. hāʾănāšîm, “the men”) to look disrespectfully upon the freewill offerings made to the Lord. Priestly abuse was giving religion a bad name in Israel.”[1]
iii. It was for this reason, the fact that they were causing the worshipers of God to look disrespectfully upon the offerings of the Lord, that the sin of Hophni and Phineas was VERY GREAT in the sight of the Lord.
How is it, that any of us could allow sin to get so bad in our life, that we end up despising the very name of God?

Proposition #1- Sometimes we allow sin into our lives because we do not see the seriousness of our sin through God’s eyes

Application: Each young person must diligently seek to see their sin through God’s eyes, they must honestly ask themselves if their life is honoring God above everything or everyone else or if their life is despising God.

II. Scene #2- The Big Contrast (2:18-21)

A. When we are struggling in our sin it is helpful to remember the spiritual value of walking closely with God (2:18-19)

1 Samuel 2:18–19 KJV 1900
18 But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. 19 Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
i. Samuel is sharply contrasted with Hophni and Phineas.
Spiritual Contrast:
1 Samuel 2:11 KJV 1900
11 And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest.
1 Samuel 2:21 KJV 1900
21 And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.
1 Samuel 2:26 KJV 1900
26 And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men.
“In each of the last three statements, Samuel is described by the root gdl (‘grow, mature, become great’). Note in 2:17 how the narrator characterizes the sins of Hophni and Phinehas as ‘very great’ [gedolah] in the LORD’s sight.’ Thus, both Samuel and the sons of Eli are ‘great.’ Samuel is becoming a great man of God, while Hophni and Phinehas are becoming great sinners.”
ii. Yes Hophni and Phineas were indulging in prime rib with the fat still on, but look at what they were missing out on! No steak is worth that.
Illustration: Deardorf and Hearts

B. When we are struggling in our sin it is helpful to remember the physical value of walking closely with God (2:20-21)

1 Samuel 2:20–21 KJV 1900
20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The Lord give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the Lord. And they went unto their own home. 21 And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.
i. Samuel's parents are sharply contrasted with Hophni and Phineas’ parents
As we will see a little bit later Eli was a terrible father to his sons.
But Hannah and Elkanah were godly examples to Samuel.
Hannah’s vow
Elkanah’s approval
1 Samuel 1:23 KJV 1900
23 And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the Lord establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.
Hannah’s prayer
1 Samuel 2:1 KJV 1900
1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, Mine horn is exalted in the Lord: My mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; Because I rejoice in thy salvation.
And now in Chapter 2, Samuel's parents receive a blessing from the High Priest in Israel and God chooses to bless them with 5 more children. And Samuel continues to grow in great in the Lord! (Parents, what an incredible responsibility we have in influencing our children! Hannah and Elkanah didn’t put anything ahead of God, not even Samuel himself. Do you think that rubbed off and had an impact on Samuel?)
Wow! What an incredible blessing by God. God not bound to bless us physically in this dispensation, but often time He does. What would you be will to trade in exchange for God’s blessing? Prime Rib?
How is it, that any of us could allow sin to get so bad in our life, that we end up despising the very name of God?

Proposition #2- Sometimes we do not understand the close relationship with God that we give up when we continue in our sin

What are you exchanging right now for your close fellowship and blessing by God? What is worth more to you than God’s fellowship and blessing? New car? Video games? Sports? A relationship? A Job? We give up our close fellowship and blessing by God, we despise the very name of God by continuing in our sin, Why? Because we don’t understand what we are giving up. Nothing is worth more than close fellowship with God. Do you believe that?

III. Scene #3- The Big Failure (2:22-26)

A. Honoring God sometimes requires us to make very difficult choices (2:22-25a)

1 Samuel 2:22–25 KJV 1900
22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. 24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress. 25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.
i. Eli, when he is very old, hears all that his sons were doing in Israel. (Why has he not stepped in and dealt with these issues a long time ago?)
ii. The sins of Hophni and Phineas have progressed to sexual immorality with the women serving at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
a. “Perhaps these women were Nazirites involved in volunteer service at the worship site (cf. Num 6:2; Exod 38:8); alternatively they may have been cultic prostitutes. However, they were being treated as though they were pagan shrine prostitutes (cf. Hos 4:14).”
iii. Eli does call them on their sin, and gives them a stern warning. They are sinning not against man only, but against God. Since their sin is against God who can intercede for them? It is like going to court against God- does anyone have a chance of winning that kind of court case?

B. Honoring God sometimes requires very difficult consequences (2:25b)

1 Samuel 2:25 KJV 1900
25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.
iv. Hophni and Phineas would not listen to Eli’s warning- it was the will of the Lord to put them to death. This would be similar to God hardening the heart of Pharoah so that he would not let the children of Israel. If you read that text carefully, Pharoah is the one who initially hardens his heart, then God continues to do so. Hear I think you have much the same thing. For year after year Hophni and Phineas have willfully disobeyed God and continued in their sin. Now, God had determined to do what Eli should have done himself.
v. Eli didn’t go far enough in dealing with this sin problem. It was necessary for him to take further action to deal with this sin problem, even if they were his own children. Honoring God should have been more important to Eli, that keeping his sons from the consequences of their sins.
How is it, that any of us could allow sin to get so bad in our life, that we end up despising the very name of God?

Proposition #3- Sometimes we are unwilling to obey God when dealing with the consequences of sin

Application: Parents must honor the Lord in their lives even if it means making hard decisions in the lives of their children.
(i.e. Pastor Mike Harding not attending the wedding of his daughter because she willfully chose to marry an unbeliever.)
3 key questions for separation (Slide)

IV. Scene #4- The Big Confrontation (2:27-36)

A. God’s grace should cause us to honor Him with our lives (2:27-28)

1 Samuel 2:27–28 KJV 1900
27 And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? 28 And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?
i. God revealed Himself to house of Eli’s father (Aaron) when they were in Egypt
ii. God choose Aaron out of all the tribes of Israel to be His priest
iii. God gave Aaron the privilege of serving Him, to go up to the altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before Him.
iv. When we stop and think about all that God by His grace has given us that should cause us to be grateful and to serve and honor Him with our lives.

B. Willful refusal to deal with sin is akin to despising God (2:29-30)

1 Samuel 2:29–30 KJV 1900
29 Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? 30 Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
i. God asks Eli, “why do you kick” the sacrifices and offerings of God? To kick ⇔ scorn v. — to look down on with disdain, conceived of as kicking someone. Eli was guilty of scorning the sacrifices of God- this seems to imply that he was actively participating in the sins of Hophni and Phineas.
ii. Eli is also condemned for honoring his sons above God by fattening himself on the choicest parts of the offerings of God’s people. Again Eli is complicit in the sins of his sons. It is interesting how God view Eli’s sin. He views Eli’s sin as honoring his sons above God.
iii. Thus Eli had broken God’s contract- If Eli had kept God’s laws he and his household would have gone in and out before Him forever, but not any longer. Why? Because God honors those who honor him, but those who despise God shall be lightly esteemed. To be despised ⇔ be light v. — to be despised, conceived of as being light or thought of lightly.
Hebrews 10:29–31 KJV 1900
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
iv. Eli’s sin was akin to despising God- looking down on God with contempt. This is what Eli was doing by honoring his sons more than he honored God.

C. God’s response to willful refusal to deal with sin is His judgment (2:31-36)

1 Samuel 2:31–32 KJV 1900
31 Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. 32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
i. God will cut off the strength of Eli’s house (lit. shatter the arms of”)- there will no longer be an old man in his house. Their position of power and importance would be cut off.
1 Samuel 2:33 KJV 1900
33 And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.
ii. This would be the cause of his descendants weeping his eyes out and grieving his heart.
1 Samuel 2:34 KJV 1900
34 And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.
iii. Hophni and Phineas would die on the same day
1 Samuel 2:35 KJV 1900
35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
iv. God will replace Eli’s house in the duties of the priest. He will raise up for himself a faithful priest.
1 Samuel 2:36 KJV 1900
36 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.
v. Everyone left in Eli’s house would have to beg even for a morsel of bread- no more steak for them.
How is it, that any of us could allow sin to get so bad in our life, that we end up despising the very name of God?

Proposition #4- Sometimes we forget that God honors those who deal rightly with sin, and judges those who despise Him

Summary:
Eli, made a series of bad spiritual decisions (we would call that sin), that ultimately led him, to despise the very name of God.
How is it, that Eli (and by way of extension any of us) could allow sin to get so bad in his life, that he ended up despising the very name of God?
I think the whole point of this story can be summed up in this statement:
Sermonic Proposition:
Honoring God above anyone or anything sometimes requires difficult decisions when dealing with sin.
How is it, that any of us could allow sin to get so bad in our life, that we end up despising the very name of God?
· Sometimes we allow sin into our lives because we do not see the seriousness of our sin through God’s eyes
· Sometimes we do not understand the close relationship with God that we give up when we continue in our sin
· Sometimes we are unwilling to obey God when dealing with the consequences of sin
· Sometimes we forget that God honors those who deal rightly with sin, and judges those who despise Him
The fact of the matter is this: Honoring God above anyone or anything sometimes requires difficult decisions when dealing with sin.
Are we willing to make those difficult decisions? It comes down to nothing less than a decision to either honor God with our lives or despise Him!
Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
God made that statement thousands of years ago, but it is no less true today?
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