“For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?“ (I Tim 3:5)
In many respects Elli is famously known as a failed father. Anointed as a priest and blessed with sons he was in a privileged position to mentor them in the Lord’s work. But something happened and his sons became a sore point denting his reign. It would be pointed out: “Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord” (2 Samuel 12).
In a telling incident these sons masquerading as priests, would grab meat meant for holy sacrifice and gorge it to their full satisfaction. “If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force” (vv 16).
Of course with time people would reach out to Elli to handle these boys. “Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good” (vv 22-24).
Shouldn’t Eli have been more firm in sanctioning these boys! Anyway, all this plea fell on deaf ears. Where Eli failed God would deal severely with his household. For the two scoundrels would die in the battlefield and once news reached Eli, “he fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years” (I Samuel 4:18).
Eli’s life did not end in a rapturous victory but instead the life of great man who anointed Prophet Samuel is noted as a failed leader. He seemed to have lost hold of his household. He died heavy with the burden of these sons who had caused him such shame and to cap it all the nation of Israel lost the Ark of God to the Philistines!
Examing his reign one may perhaps explain away the circumstances that caused all this, like advanced age, but it is quite clear Eli failed as a leader largely on account that he could not govern his household! And indirectly this also affected the nation he was leading!
Prayer today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, today I pray to exercise good and firm leadership in all my affairs, but most especially my household, this I pray in Jesus’s name.