Read: 1 Samuel 3:12-14
12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God,[a] and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
Reflect: What message did God give to Samuel?
Consider: The message consisted of the announcement that the promised removal of Eli’s family from the priesthood was about to occur. It was an announcement so shocking that it would cause the ears of the people to ring like hammer blows on a bell. The reason is explicitly stated—Eli’s sons were wicked, and though he knew it he failed to restrain them. Though the message was given right then to Eli through Samuel, Eli himself lived for a short time thereafter, and indeed the priesthood continued in his family for three more generations. This is clear from 14:3—Ahijah served as priest to King Saul. He is identified as the great-grandson of Eli through Phinehas and Ahitub. The prophecy to Samuel came to pass fully when Abiathar, son of Ahijah (the same as Ahimelech of 22:9–12), was apparently replaced by King David with Zadok after Abiathar sided with Adonijah against Solomon (1 Kings 1:7–8; 2:27, 35). Thus the time between prophecy and fulfillment was more than 130 years.1
Respond: Why do you think God gave Samuel such a difficult message to deliver from the start? How was Eli’s reluctance to discipline his family a detriment to the temple? What did God accomplish here?
1 Eugene H. Merrill, “1 Samuel,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 435.