June 6th: 1 Samuel 2:12-4:1(a), Proverbs 6:20-35
Aaron’s chief priestly descendants have become deeply wicked. The sons of Eli disregard laws about proper sacrifices to God, intimidate objectors to their dishonorable practices, and have illicit sexual liaisons right outside the tent of meeting. God’s priesthood and his tabernacle are being actively desecrated by these “scoundrels” (1 Samuel 2:12-25). It is no surprise that God intends to put these evil men to death. Add to this how troubling it is that Eli does little to curb his sons’ treacherous behaviors. No matter, God is raising up Samuel, born of a faithful Ephraimite woman named Hannah, to take over the job Eli and his sons fail to accomplish as part of their Levitical heritage and as direct descendants of Aaron (1 Samuel 2:26). Again, those chosen by birth for a job are replaced in God’s mercy by those who formerly did not receive such an honor. This is grace for Samuel and also grace for Israel. It might seem like I just keep making the same points about God’s grace and Israel’s failure, Sadly, for Israel’s foreseeable future, this repetition of events will continue. This leads the reader of the Old Testament, especially those reading chronologically, to ask, “What can break this cycle of salvation first, then sin, followed by misery, and ultimately replacement and rescue?” Perhaps God will raise up a King to help Israel reject this ongoing pattern? Stay tuned to see how Samuel’s plays his part in Israel’s ongoing habits of being poor recipients of God’s great mercies.