Life-Study of 1 & 2 Samuel, by Witness Lee

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Samuel came to realize that God’s severe judgment was on the house of Eli (2:27-36; 3:4-18; 4:1-22). We should not think that God is merely sitting in the heavens and is not doing anything about the situation of His people on earth. God is very busy in dealing with His people.

A. First, Prophesied by a Man of God

First, God’s severe judgment on the house of Eli was prophesied by a man of God (2:27-36).

B. Second, Confirmed by the Word
of Jehovah through Samuel

Second, this severe judgment was confirmed by the word of Jehovah through Samuel (3:4-18). I believe that God’s purpose in letting Eli know through Samuel of the coming judgment was to make an unforgettable impression on this young priestly boy. This was God’s wisdom.

C. Third, Executed by God through the Philistines

Third, God’s severe judgment was executed through the Philistines (4:1-22).

1. The People of Israel
Being Defeated by the Philistines

The people of Israel were defeated by the Philistines, and 30,000 foot soldiers of them were slaughtered (v. 10). At the time of Hezekiah, Judah looked to the Lord for protection, and one night He sent an angel to strike 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35). From this we see that it would have been easy for God to defeat the Philistines. However, at that time He had given up Israel.

2. The Ark of God Being Captured

Israel was foolish in their degradation because they did not trust in God. Rather, they trusted in the systems ordained by God. In their situation they should have repented, made a thorough confession, and returned to God from their idols. Instead, they exercised their superstition to trust in the ark. Their past told them that quite often when the ark of God moved, there was a victory (Num. 10:35; Josh. 6). But this time their situation was not right. In their degradation they offended God to the uttermost, and God left them. Eventually, instead of the ark saving Israel, the ark itself was captured (1 Sam. 4:11a).

3. The Two Sons of Eli,
Hophni and Phinehas, Being Killed

The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, who had gone out with the ark, were killed because they had altogether disregarded God (v. 11b). This shows us that we need to learn the lesson of not being loose in the service of God.

(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Samuel, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)