March 8, 2016: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for 1 Samuel 1-5
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Commentary: Israel had spiraled into ethical and moral decay. They were no longer following the God’s Laws as laid out for them by Moses. The priest, Eli, was more accustomed to drunkards “worshipping” at the temple than earnest and heartfelt worship. While Eli cannot be held fully responsible for the decay of Israel, he contributed to it by refusing to punish his sons, who had rejected the Lord. Instead, he made them priests! Samuel is a long desired child, who was given in service to the Lord, per his mother’s promise. Samuel grows under Eli’s tutelage and becomes a true servant of God. Eli’s sons continued to turn away from God. They accompanied the army to war with the Philistines, bringing with them the Ark of the Covenant. Israel remembered how the Ark had previously brought victories in battles, such as Jericho, but they failed to remember that Israel had also wholly worshipped the Lord. The Israelites now held a pagan view of the Ark; believing that simply possessing it would guarantee their victory. Instead, the Israelites were defeated, Eli’s sons killed, and the Ark was captured by the Philistines. Of course the Ark was still a holy item. When placed in the temple with the Philistines god Dagon, the statue of Dagon would be found bowing to the Ark. Later the statue would be missing its hands and head, a sign of military defeat.
Focus Verses: 2:12-17; 22-25 How did Eli contribute to Israel’s ethical and moral decay? What was Eli’s punishment for failing to bring his sons in line? What can you learn from Eli’s story and apply to your life?