When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.
I Samuel 4: 18 NRSV
I really have a hard time feeling sorry for Eli.
He accuses Hannah of being drunk while she is praying on the steps of the temple. Had he never seen anyone praying earnestly? Did he immediately think she was drunk because, well, he was usually drunk?
His sons are scoundrels and he doesn't seem to notice until someone tells him about them. Or maybe he knows but doesn't say anything until others get restless. The saddest thing is that they are the religious leaders and are abusing the people!
He is told by a prophet and later by Samuel that God is angry at his sons (and, I think, Eli as well) and all his family but one is going to die. Eli never acts remorseful, he just accepts God's pronouncements and goes on doing what he has been doing. Isn't the point to be contrite and try to make up for these things?
Eli is overweight. Obviously, he has been fattening himself at the cost of the people of God. It is Eli, not God who has been receiving the better portions.
Eli is more concerned about the ark of God than about his own sons. Or even his own obedience to the Law contained in the ark! It is the object he worships, not God.
Eli has judged Israel for 40 years -- that is a huge sign that God is building something new out of the sinful ashes of the Israelites.
Is there anything about Eli in which you can see yourself?
God, forgive me for _______________________________________. Help me to turn from this and turn to you. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims