He was faithful when God spake to him once, and therefore he honoured him again. May all young Christians be firm and true from the first, and God will bless them. Meanwhile God was preparing terrible judgment for the wicked sons of Eli.
They trusted in the outward sign, and forgot that the most holy emblems bring no blessing to ungodly hearts. God will have us know that external religion is nothing worth without inward holiness. It is vain to trust in lying words, saying, “the Temple of the Lord are we.” Ceremonies cannot help us if the Lord be not with us. A cross on the bosom is worthless, Christ in the heart is precious.
Thus in the order of providence they were fetched to the field where they were doomed to forfeit their guilty lives. God knows how to reach wicked men, and deal out justice to them.
Presumptuous men are always ready to shout, but ere long they will have to weep and wail as did these noisy boasters. The law was in the ark, but what help could the broken law bring to them, its very presence condemned them; those who trust in the law are in an evil case.
The Philistines were heathens, and therefore mistook the ark for God himself, but they knew well enough that if God were indeed with Israel, it would go hard with them. Had they known God to be Almighty, they would not have attempted resistance, but believing him to be only such a god as their own Dagon, they showed their valour by determining to quit themselves like men. If they were so bold in their apparently desperate condition, how brave ought we to be who are assured of victory, because the Lord of Hosts is with us. To us the Lord says, “Quit you like men, be strong.” To be cowardly in the cause of Jesus would be infamous. Never let the fear of man have the slightest power over you, or the reality of your religion will be doubtful.
It was never captured till it was defended by carnal weapons; true religion always suffers when men would guard it by force;
Thus did the Lord keep his word. He will be as faithful to his threatenings as to his promises. Woe unto us if we continue in sin; for the Lord will surely punish us. Are we all saved in Christ Jesus?
Thou art the glory of their strength.”
Bad news is sure to find a messenger and a swift one, Alas, that the good news of the Gospel should so often remain untold.
Thus was fulfilled the prophecy that the judgments of the Lord on Eli’s sons should make many ears to tingle. Shiloh had been defiled with sin, and it therefore came to be defaced with sorrow.
The venerable old priest, within two years of a century old, heard all the sad news with fortitude and patience till the last item was reached.
His heart was broken and then his neck. He fell in a swoon of grief. No sword of the Philistines could have killed him more certainly than this terrible news that God’s ark was captured. Nothing so much affects good men as calamity to the Church, or dishonour brought upon the name of the Lord.
The sad tidings that the ark was taken, and that her husband was slain, caused the wife of Phinehas to be seized with deadly pangs.
She seems to have been a pious woman, though her husband was a wicked man: her piety led her to forget her own miseries in the greater miseries of the Church of God, and to make her child’s name the memorial of the departed glory of Israel. Her death was another stroke at Eli’s house, but it was sent in love to her, for she was spared the sight of Israel’s sorrows.
The sad story of the destruction of Eli’s family is a special warning to all parents not to suffer sin to go unpunished in their households. Want of discipline is want of love. Let us see what Solomon says upon it—Pro_23:13-18.
Mr. Bridges in his “Notes on Proverbs,” says, “Eli tried gentler means, and the sad issue is written for our instruction. Is it not cruel love that turns away from painful duty? To suffer sin upon a child is tantamount to hating him in our heart. Is it not better that the flesh should smart than that the soul should die? What if thy child should reproach thee throughout eternity, for the neglect of that timely correction which might have saved his soul from hell.”
It is a father’s highest happiness to have a son who is not only good himself, but the bold champion of goodness, speaking out bravely for right and truth and God.
This life’s trouble will soon be over, and then shall the godly begin their best life. Their hope shall not be ashamed. May the Lord teach us as a family to serve him faithfully, that both here and hereafter we may be blessed.