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Which comes first- family or ministry?

1 Samuel 2:12-17

When we last visited 1 Samuel, Elkanah and Hannah had come to worship the Lord and to give their precious son, Samuel, back to Him as an offering of worship. In the presence of her son, Hannah prayed a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to her God for all that He had done for her. The three, Elkanah, Hannah and Samuel, worshipped the Lord together for one last time, then Samuel was left there to serve the Lord for the rest of his days.

At first glance there seems to be a very odd transition between 1 Samuel 2:1-11 and 1 Samuel 2:12-17. We go from a family that is worshipping the Lord together to the family of the priest whose son’s are labeled as corrupt. I believe this to be a very clear example of what it looks like to serve the Lord out of duty versus serving the Lord of out of love.

Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas were actively involved in the “things” of God, but were by no means walking the talk. They were corrupt sons of Belial (In 2 Corinthians 6:15, this is a name used for Satan) a name that denoted worthlessness. Even though their daddy was the priest, these two boys did not know the Lord. They had no personal relationship with Him. They were part of the generation of Israel who did not know God.

In Judges 2:7-10, we see that the first people who lived in the Promised Land remembered all of the miracles God had performed and all the judgments He has passed down. This generation of people was devoted to the Lord. The next generation of people, their children, were ignorant to all of their parent’s experiences and were more easily persuaded to sin. Unlike their parents, they did not know God personally.

Why did Hophni and Phinehas, sons of the priest, not know God? In Deuteronomy 31:9-13, Moses wrote down the law and gave it to the priests who were to be the keepers and protectors of it. Every seven years the law was to be read to all the people- the men, women, children, and little, little ones- to remind them of who God was and how they were to be living their lives before Him. So, if Eli had direct access to the Law, why didn’t his sons know God?

~Could it be possible that Eli, although he was the priest- a man of God- spent more time serving the people and performing his priestly duties that he failed to serve his family?

~Could it be that Hophni and Phinehas were given way too much “free time” while dad was busy preparing for the annual feasts leading their hearts to become bitter and indifferent to the ways of the Lord? 1 Samuel 2:17 says that they came to despise the offering of the LORD. Not only was the priest responsible to represent the people to God, but he was responsible to represent God to the people. Hophni and Phinehas had come to despise their God given role and were just going thought the motions. How could they be an accurate reflection of a loving God if their hearts had been removed from the equation? They were serving out of duty, not out of a love stemming from a pure heart for the Lord.

~Could it be that hearing the Law read every seven years just isn’t enough? What about all the time in between? What goes on during those years? Was Eli so busy with “life” that the focus on God’s Law was lost during years one through six?
Before I go any further let me just say that the Lord has convicted me of this lately and He and I are re-working my schedule.

Questions to Answer- Thoughts to Ponder
~Are you too busy serving those around you that you’ve failed to serve your family? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in working for the Lord that we forget those who are right beside us every day. Serving the body of Christ is not wrong, in fact, Scriptures speak to that very thing. But, it becomes wrong when we neglect our own families spiritual needs.

~Are you spending purposeful time with your children loving on them and teaching them the ways of God? Or, are you brushing them off so that you can finish that “very important thing that just has to be done right now”?

~Are you teaching your children to love the Lord with all their hearts and to serve Him and others out of a pure and sincere heart motive?

~What about during the week? Do you talk about the Lord, read His Word, and spend time with Him Monday through Saturday or are you teaching your children that going to church on Sunday is enough? My friends, let me just be blunt here, Sunday “worship” is not enough! If the only time you are hearing the Word spoken, opening your Bibles, and bowing your heads in prayer is on Sunday, then you are starving your spirit. I doubt very seriously you would go seven days without feeding your physical body. Why? Because we need food to live and grow. Food gives us strength to perform daily tasks. The same is true in regards to our spiritual souls. When we go for long periods of time without feasting on the Word of God, our souls become weak and unable to stand against the forces of the enemy. We cannot survive spiritually and be all that God has called us to be on one meal a week- a meal that even at its best has been regurgitated.

Now, I as a parent, I am not solely responsible for my children’s relationship with the Lord- but Scripture clearly teaches what role I do play in the spiritual rearing of my children. We will talk more about that next time.

Let’s end our time together today talking to the Lord.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for the blessing of children and family. Help me to honor, love, and respect them. Show me how I can love and serve them through ways that will make them feel special and appreciated. Place within my heart a deep passion and desire for Your Word. Help me to see my need for Your Word above everything else. I don’t want to be a “once a week” believer who lives on the regurgitated meals of another; I want to consume Your Word for myself and taste the sweetness of It on my lips. Give me a heart for You so that I can pass that on to my children. Amen.

2 Lovely Thoughts Shared:

kmom3 said...

Thank you so much for your sweet prayers!

Dotwigg said...

Thank you for "teaching" this passage. If our children do not know their scripture and understand it they are not going to be protected when the temptations and trials come, and they will come. Your statement about eating on the word only once a week and it being reguritated at that, really hit me. I love to hear or read other people's interpretation or translation of scriptures and bible studies but I always have to go into the scripture myself and "see" if I get that from the passages. If our teaching and reading of the scripture is 2nd hand and based on that persons interpretation and perspective so are the blessings and revelations. I want mine first hand and fresh, what if they miss something or if, they are not struggling with the same thing God's message is going to impact them different. Everything from scripture is good, but when God reveals something for you or your struggle it is life changing and an energy boost that nothing else can offer.