Speaking the Truth in Love
Eli's Ineffective Reproof
ELI'S INEFFECTIVE REPROOF
I Samuel 2:22-25
Original outline from Mark Copeland’s website. He gives the following credit in this outline: “This outline was heavily adapted from a homily by B. Dale in The Pulpit Commentary.”
 A man might be on the whole a good man, and yet be marked by some defect...
[a] Which mars his character and prevents his usefulness
[b] Which makes him the cause of much grief, even though it may be a passive fault
 Eli was such a man...
[a] He was a descendant of Ithamar, the youngest son of Aaron
[b] He held the office of high priest, and helped to raise Samuel
[c] He became judge at age 58, and judged Israel for 40 years –
cf. I Samuel 4:18
[d] When first mentioned, he must have been around 70 years old
[e] His sons were children of his old age, sometimes afterward they were spoken of as young men – cf. I Samuel 2:17
 Although this is an impressive resume, he will always be known as man who did not restrain his sons...
[a] His sons Hophni and Phineas were corrupt, and did not know the Lord – I Samuel 2:12-17
[b] He sought to reprove his sons, but it was ineffective –
I Samuel 2:22-25
[c] Therefore God sent a man of God to pronounce judgment on his household – I Samuel 2:27-36
[d] The Lord also told Samuel of the reason for such judgment –
I Samuel 3:11-14
NOTE Eli's reproof was clearly ineffective. Nor did his pathetic attempt absolve him of responsibility for his sons' behavior.
NOTE Here are some possible reasons why...
2 IT WAS NOT ADMINISTERED IN PROPER TIME
2.1 (IN THE CASE OF ELI AND HIS SONS...)
 His sons' propensity to sin must have been seen long before the rumor of their flagrant transgressions reached him
 It was evident his sons did not know the Lord, yet they had been appointed priests
 Eli, being old and weak, was evidently of gentle and easy going temperament
 Thus he failed to reprove them until they were too devoted to their evil ways
 In this Eli was like David and his son Adonijah – cf. I Kings 1:5-6
2.2 What do we need to learn from this? (Hebrews ?:?, Galatians, 3:24 – schoolmaster, tutor)
 The tendency to go wrong appears at an early age
 A little plant may be easily rooted up, but when it becomes a tree it can only be removed by extraordinary efforts
 There is a delicate balance between being to permissive and to strict
 Consider how God dealt with his people in the old testament
 However, far more common than a broken willed child is a spoiled rotten brat ("Indulgence never produces gratitude or love in the heart of a child.")
 It may seem easier to “let it slide” but remember Ephesians 6:4 and the temporary and eternal consequences.
NOTE The ineffectiveness of Eli's reproof may also have been because...
3 IT WAS NOT GIVEN WITH SUFFICIENT EARNESTNESS
3.1 (IN THE CASE OF ELI AND HIS SONS...)
 It was not sufficiently pointed in its application
[a] Given to them collectively rather than individually
[b] By way of question, rather than a direct charge – I Samuel 2:23
[c] Concerning things he had heard, but had not troubled himself to find out for certain
 It exhibited no sufficient sense of the evil of sin
[a] He spoke of the consequences of sin rather than the nature of sin, that is why they should obey God and not their own vile passions
[b] He seemed more concerned about the reputation than the sin itself – I Samuel 2:23-24
[c] It showed no sufficient determination to correct the sin
[i] He did not threaten to judge them for their injustice toward men
[ii] He simply left them to what are we going to do? –
I Samuel 2:25
[iii] "In the case where the rebuke should have descended like a bolt from heaven we hear nothing but low and feeble murmurings... Cruel indeed are the tenderest mercies of parental weakness and indulgence. And the fate of Eli shows that by such tender mercies the father may become the minister of vengeance unto his whole house." (Le Bas)
3.2 THEREFORE WE SHOULD REMEMBER...
 To make sure our reproofs sufficiently pointed ("You are the man!") –
cf. II Samuel 12:7 Nathan to David
 To communicate why sin is so wrong
 To make every effort within our power to stop the sinning being done
 Again may be easier to “let is slide”, “beat around the bush”
NOTE We also see the ineffectiveness of Eli's reproof in that...
4 IT WAS NOT FOLLOWED BY ADEQUATE CHASTISEMENT
4.1 IN THE CASE OF ELI AND HIS SONS...
 The law of Moses in the case of disobedient children was very severe –Deuteronomy 21:18-21
 But Eli did not observe this law "when they hearkened not to his voice" –
I Samuel 2:25
 Nor did he take any further steps to prevent the continuance of the evil which he reproved
[a] He did not have the zeal that Phinehas the son of Eleazar had – Numbers 25:1-13
[b] But as a father, a high priest, and a judge he was guilty of allowing sin to continue unchecked – he was condoning their actions! He was willfully disobedient and held accountable for it. – cf. I Samuel 3:12-13
4.2 THEREFORE WE SHOULD REMEMBER...
 Fathers who love their children chastise them appropriately –
cf. Hebrews 12:6-8
 Fathers in a position to restrain their children's sinful behavior, have the duty to do so
 Whether in the home, in the church, or in the community, Fathers should and must discipline their children
 Again may be easier to “let it slide” with just a warning like knocking the top of a weed off rather than pulling it
NOTE Finally, we note the ineffectiveness of Eli's reproof by the fact...
5 IT DID NOT RESULT IN ANY IMPROVEMENT
5.1 IN THE CASE OF ELI AND HIS SONS...
 Their contempt of reproof revealed that they were already infatuated and hardened
 God had already given them up to destruction – I Samuel 2:25
 In them the proverb was to be fulfilled: "He that hateth reproof shall die" – Proverbs15:10
5.2 THEREFORE WE SHOULD REMEMBER...
 If we wait too long to reprove, it may be too late
 One can reach a point where it becomes impossible for us to restore them again to repentance – Hebrews 6:4-6
 If we waffle and do not act we are condoning actions of sin and will be held accountable!
 Reproof is a solemn obligation...
[a] It should be given in an effective manner
[b] When given poorly it can do more harm than good
 When justly given, reproof should be humbly and obediently received...
[a] As Eli did, when he accepted the Lord's judgment –
I Samuel 3:15-18
[b] How much better, to receive it before it’s too late! –
cf. Proverbs 1:23
[c] How sad, that Eli could accept reproof, but not give it as one should...!
He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. – Proverbs 13:24
Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction. – Proverbs 19:18
The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. - Proverbs 29:15
Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul. – Proverbs 29:17