The House of Eli and Our Modern Hubris

The House of Eli and Our Modern Hubris

The great need of our day is thus to heed the wisdom of the psalmist; to kiss the Son lest he be angry, and we perish in the way (Ps. 2:12). We should remember that reality is structured so as to one day give all glory to Christ as Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). Seas and rivers, hills and nations will clap their hands and sing together for joy when He comes to judge the earth (Ps. 98:7-9). The obligation that rests upon each of our shoulders, therefore, is to simply lay aside the burden of hubris and join the chorus.

Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honour me I will honour, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (1 Samuel 2:30)

In many ways, 1 and 2 Samuel may be read as a working-out of the principle stated by God in the above verse: “those who honour me I will honour, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” Initially uttered as a judgment upon the house of Eli, this statement forms one of the major themes of the two books, with different figures emerging on either side of the divide. On the one hand, we are met with various man-honouring figures such as Eli, Hophni, Phinehas, and Saul; on the other, we find various God-honouring figures in the persons of Hannah, Samuel, and David. The basic question, however, remains constant: Who will be glorified? Who will receive honour? Those who glorify Yahweh will themselves be glorified (1 Sam. 9:6; 2 Sam. 6:22), but those who despise Yahweh (by giving glory to others) will be “lightly esteemed.”

The word “glory,” translated by the ESV in this text as “honour,” is a term that carries with it the idea of weight or heaviness. To give glory or honour to someone is to ascribe a certain degree of weight, significance, or value to them. This is why Eli is condemned in this passage. His sin was honouring his sons above Yahweh — giving more weight to them than to God (v. 29).

By contrast, Samuel is presented in the text as an example of what it is to give proper honour or weight to Yahweh as the King of Israel. Through a life of obedience yielded to God in humility and faith, Samuel gives Yahweh the glory He is due.

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