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Deep understanding.

1 Samuel 3:10–18

Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”

Then the LORD said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”

Q: According to today’s passage, what is the LORD’s immediate goal in His action toward Eli and his house?

A: To make everyone’s ears tingle.

And the first ears to tingle were Eli’s. As always, God’s glory is what matters and everything thing else is just collateral.

Amazingly, Eli is okay with this. “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.” While he can’t be pleased, He knows that it’s from God and therefore right.

Note also that the word “seems” isn’t in the Hebrew. Many translations (e.g., ESV) include the word “seems” but the Hebrew (הַטֹּ֥וב, ha-tove) is literally just “the good.” Verse 18b is literally, “Let the LORD do the good in His eyes.”

But what’s really profound is that Eli will never even attempt to change God’s mind. No prayers like what David prays after Nathan confronts him about his sin with Bathsheba. The beginning of Verse 13 (“For I have told him”) remind us that Eli has had some time to think through what God is up to. That explains why he was so set on hearing the full update when he said, “Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.

As horrible as this is for Eli personally, he recognizes that other things take precedence.

This means that Eli gets it at a very deep level—a level we should all strive for. His sons are a write-off, but many great and exciting things are happening, and Eli is privileged to play a major role.

He seems dead set on not messing it up.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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