“…knew not the Lord.”
1 Samuel 3:1-10-
“ ¶And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.”
The text reveals that Samuel knew not the Lord but came to know him in time and for eternity. (Jeremiah 15:1 makes clear the honour which the Lord bestowed upon Samuel; likened to Moses)
1 Samuel 2:11-26
“ ¶And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest. Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. 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; 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. 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. 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. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. 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. 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. And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD. 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. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress. 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. And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.”
1 Samuel 2:11-26-The text reveals to us the two sons of Eli also knew not the Lord but the difference is the suffered judgement in time and for eternity. Who are you more like? Are you like Samuel and in time you have come to know the Lord as Saviour? Or are you like Hophni & Phineas going along your selfish way fulfilling every lust and rejecting the Lord?
Hophni & Phineas are identified as sons of Belial. (taking more of the sacrifice than was due, serial adulterers etc.) they were a discredit to their father and a disgrace to their office as priests. This description is reserved for some of the most lawless of sinners in scripture. Degenerate men and women like the sodomites in Gibeah Judges ch19&ch20, or when Hannah was judged to be a drunkard by Eli 1 Samuel 1:16 she immediately defended herself as being not a daughter of Belial.
There are other examples of liars, drunkards and murderers who received the title of Belial. Belial is a name for Satan and those works of Hophni and Phineas were the works of the Devil, as Christ said to the Pharisees in John 8:44 ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye will do. I think it’s a chilling revelation to think any individual could be a child of the Devil but according to the bible each of us can only be in two places spiritually in this regard. Either we are of the Lord or of the Devil. If you’re in the hall tonight and you’re not saved then I must warn you that your father, spiritually speaking, is the devil. The only solution is to be born again. Ye must be born again.
You need to be born again and adopted into the family of God. You cannot be ‘on the fence’ here. 1 John 5:19 tells us the whole world lieth in wickedness, Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. Isaiah 1:6 certainly doesn’t paint a pretty picture either where we’re described as unsound head to toe and full of wounds, bruises and putrefying sores.
Isaiah 53:6 describes our condition as lost sheep. All we like sheep have gone astray and turned each to his own ways and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all. What a mess!
Tell me do you know the Lord or are you like Hophni and Phineas who knew not the Lord?
Perhaps you’re no adulterer but don’t forget that Christ drew the line at the heart level. He said that whosoever looks upon another with lust in their heart is guilty of adultery. God knows our hearts, he knows our thought life, there isn’t even a word in our mouths but he knows it altogether. Perhaps you’re no blasphemer but are you still rejecting the offer of grace? Do you resist the call of God on your heart? Then you are blaspheming God the holy spirit; which, of all sins, eventually proves unpardonable. That’s why the bible reminds us that God’s spirit shall not always strive with man. It is a solemn decision to hear the gospel then reject the offer of salvation. This could be your last chance.
The conduct of Hophni and Phineas led the people to despise the sacrifices. We read in 1 Samuel 2:17 that men abhorred the sacrifices because of them. That’s challenging for me as a Christian too. How is my conduct? Do I deal with people in a way that causes them to despise the gospel? Am I treating people unfairly, do I harass them, do I defraud them etc. Do people see the fruit of the spirit in my life? They may not agree with my message but do they find much to disagree with about my nature and character? It was one thing for the brothers to wilfully sin away their covenantal rights and turn away from God but it was quite another matter to turn others away. Christ made dire warnings of judgement to them who would offend his little ones in Mark 9:42.
Perhaps you’re depending on church membership or your association with believers in Christ? Here were Hophni and Phineas as sons of Eli, they themselves were also priests. Their credentials in those regards might be considered impressive but it is a fallacy to think that honour, virtue or worth can be bestowed by association. I think that somebody once said that you can spend all night in a stable but it won’t make you into a horse (although you’ll smell like one).
There are testimonies, I’ve heard, of people brought up in church and heavily involved with church service but only after hearing the gospel did they realise they needed the Lord. Do you know him? He is the one whom to know is life eternal. Hophni and Phineas continued on their career of iniquity until judgement finally came in 1 Samuel 4:11 where we discover they were slain by the Philistines. Many years had gone by but the judgement finally came:
…it came unexpectedly; that same day they had been shouting and rejoicing around the Ark of the Covenant certain that God was going to deliver them against the Philistines. Unknown to them God had departed and was executing judgement.
…it came costly; thirty thousand souls of the Israelites died that day. Phineas and Hophni were among them.
…it came assuredly; the Lord had sent a man of God some years previously warning that judgement was coming. The Lord is not slack concerning his promises as some men count slackness. Phineas and Hophni had received time and space to repent of their evil but presumed upon God that which they had no right to presume.
The point is: you can be aware of coming judgement but you cannot escape it, you cannot afford it and you should not doubt it. Phineas and Hophni knew not the Lord and so probably did not realise that God is faithful to deliver on his promises and judgements. In 1 Samuel 2:24 it is recorded for us that Eli reasoned with them of sin and righteousness and judgement to come but it states that they hearkened not unto the voice of their father.
Can I please encourage you not to make the same mistake which they made? If someone has been warning you about your sin and its consequences please take note of them and heed their advice. Repent of your sin and seek Christ as saviour and Lord.
Look again at the passage from the start (1 Samuel 3:1-10) and notice:
Samuel’s service. Samuel served in the temple and what was true of Hophni and Phinehas was also true of Samuel that their service merited not one iota of righteousness under the unconditional covenant of Abraham, but while Samuel obeyed the covenant of Moses the brothers further failed in that regard and brought judgement upon themselves. Once more don’t let anyone think they can do the Lord a favour. We cannot earn any merit of righteousness by service, we cannot bargain for time in heaven or reprieve from hell with our deeds. The motivation for Christian service has to be love for the Lord. How tragic to hear of those involved with church service, church attendance etc. who are utterly lost in their sin at the present. Samuel was dedicated to service, some experts say the Hebrew can mean loaned to the Lord. Here he was deeply involved in service but lost and unregenerate.
Samuel’s state. Samuel was laid down to sleep. The picture appears as a slumbering sinner dead to the things of God and the new covenant of grace and mercy. Each one in their lost state is like this. Are you concerned over your soul tonight? Are you dead to the truths of the gospel, are you already saved and resting in the Lord or, if you are not saved are you concerned for your soul? Get concerned if you’re not, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. Sleeper arise, shake off your slumber and listen to the gospel that Jesus has died in your place, took your penalty, shed his own blood for your sin and has arose from the grave to declare you righteous upon your declaration of faith in him. Now repent of your sin and call upon him.
Samuel’s call. He was called 4 times before he responded to the call from God. How many times has God called you? If you are saved think how many times God called. I know that I had numerous exposures to the gospel not understanding but thankfully the Lord may call repeatedly. Job 33:14 makes clear and Job 33:18 explains why.
Job 33:14 ¶For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
17 That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
18 He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
The Lord wants to keep you from the pit you know. Don’t go to hell tonight and trample the blood of Christ under your feet. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, he is not willing that anyone should perish but that all would come to repentance. He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish. Don’t perish in hell but rather seek the Lord while he may be found.
Samuel knew not the Lord but the Lord called him out of spiritual sleep, death and darkness into the marvellous light of salvation. Will you come to know Christ this moment? All things are ready. The Lord is a wonderful saviour who loves you enough to give his life on Calvary’s cross. He died to put away sin. His blood was sprinkled to put away the wrath of God. His blood was the purchase price of your soul. When I see the blood I will Passover you- God looks on the blood of Jesus Christ and is satisfied. It is finished he cried. That’s why you can’t earn it or merit it. No amount of labour, or treasure or any physical resource can pay for your salvation because Jesus paid it all. He freely offers you the gift of salvation don’t put a price on it when it is given by grace. Don’t make your pride and reputation a price too high to pay for that which is freely given. Is it your friends that are a cost to high to pay? Do you make your cherished sin a price too far to part with? Don’t exchange priceless grace freely given for paltry affections which are worthless in eternity. Come to the saviour this minute. Turn from your sin and cry unto him in repentance for forgiveness and he will meet you at the point of your greatest need. Do you know the Lord? Hophni and Phinehas knew not the Lord and hearkened not to his word. Samuel knew not the Lord but heard his welcome voice calling him to salvation. If you feel the Lord is calling you please don’t delay, do business with the Lord right now & get ready to meet him ere you go out to eternity.