OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 21
1 Samuel 2-3; 8
- The sons of Eli honor themselves above the Lord.
- Eli honors his sons above the Lord.
- Samuel honors the Lord.
- The Israelites honor the world.
A study of this lesson should help us to understand the blessings of
honoring and pleasing the Lord above themselves, others, or the world.
The Books of 1 & 2 Samuel
- Part of continuous history running from Genesis to 2 Kings.
- Spans the period: from the judges to the final years of King David.
Describes how the change from tribal federation to organized Royal
state came about.
There was a shift in worship during this period away from the local
shrines toward centralized worship at the temple.
- 1100 BC to 961 BC: 100 to 150 years.
- This led to the supreme importance of Jerusalem as a political &
The Sons of Eli Honor Themselves Above The Lord
- The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, followed their father as
priests (see 1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25).
WHAT EFFECT DID THE ACTIONS OF ELI'S SONS HAVE ON OTHER PEOPLE IN ISRAEL?
- Unfortunately, these sons of Eli were wicked priests.
- They forcibly took the flesh of the sacrificial animals before the
fat portions had been burned on the altar.
- They took some of the flesh that the offerer was boiling for the sacrificial
- They seduced women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle.
HOW DO OUR ACTIONS AFFECT OTHERS?
- READ 1 SAMUEL 2:17. It caused the people abhor
the offering of the Lord.
- READ 1 SAMUEL 2:24. It encouraged the people to
WHAT DO THE ACTIONS OF ELI'S SONS SUGGEST ABOUT WHOM THEY CHOSE TO
- Consider the actions of Corianton as addressed by his father Alma (see
- Like Hophni and Phinehas, Corianton had been called into the service
of the Lord.
- While serving amongst the Zoramites, Corianton ran off to "the
land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel"
- Alma called his son to repentance and explained the impact of his actions
on those who he was serving: "Behold, O my son, how great iniquity
ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would
not believe in my words" (Alma 39:11).
- Neal A. Maxwell: "What we now are as a people is not enough.
All is not yet well in Zion. Now, as in the time of Alma, the bad conduct
of a few members slows missionary work." (Notwithstanding My Weakness,
- Years ago, while on my mission, I encountered a situation like that
created by the Corianton. I had been transferred to an area where, several
months earlier, two missionaries had been sent home due to inappropriate
conduct. The work was difficult in that area and we saw no results. It
was almost as if a curse had been placed on the area. One only needed to
spend time there to know that the selfish actions of one or two individuals
affected the progress of the missionary work.
- Recall the words of the Savior in that great sermon:
- "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his
savour, wherewith shall it be salted?" (Matthew 5:13).
- "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your
good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew
- LeGrand Richards: "If we have what we claim, a marvelous work
and a wonder, should it not inspire us as a people to live up to its standards?
It is nothing more than what Jesus said that we should let our light so
shine before men that they, seeing our good works, should glorify our Father
which is in heaven." (CR, April 1962, p.43)
- Harold B. Lee: "In almost every incident where a young man
has been converted to the Church by our boys in military service, he has
told us that he was drawn to the Church because of the clean, pure life
of some Latter-day Saint boy with whom he was associated. This is a day
of demonstration when we as Latter-day Saints by our lives will preach
more the gospel of truth than by all the words that we may conjure up."
(CR, Oct. 1945, p49)
IN WHAT WAYS DO WE SOMETIMES CHOOSE HONOR AND PLEASE OURSELVES RATHER
THAN THE LORD?
- They certainly chose to honor themselves above the Lord and their sacred
WHY DO YOU THINK WE SOMETIMES CHOOSE TO PLEASE OURSELVES RATHER THAN
- Do we listen to music that is positive and uplifting or that which
defiles and causes the spirit to flee.
- Much of the current entertainment available is not worthy. When we
choose to view it, we are pleasing our own natural man tendencies and not
honoring the Lord. Returning to the previous question about the effects
of our actions: What if we have friends or associates who see us attending
an "R" rated movie?
- Sabbath Day observance:
- Participating in/viewing sports.
- Unnecessary work or chores, such as yard work or continuing a home
- Going to the movies.
- Dating and Morality:
- When we are not absolutely true to our covenants and observe the laws
of morality, we are once again giving in to the natural man and honoring
- If we choose not to fast on Fast Sunday or for other important reasons,
we are turning to the natural man.
- Church callings:
- Do we just try and get by so we can get on to that which we consider
- Might we turn down a calling because of activities we might have to
- Might we go on a nice vacation, rather than pay our tithing.
- Might we put ourselves in debt for unnecessary things, causing us to
work harder and take time away from our families and Church activities.
WHAT ARE ARE CONSEQUENCES OF HONORING OURSELVES MORE THAN GOD?
- Spencer W. Kimball: "One would have thought that all the pleadings
and warnings the Lord has made through his prophets over the centuries
would induce a high general level of righteousness. Unfortunately this
is not so. Apparently it is easier for man to sin than to live a life of
righteousness; therefore, greater effort needs to be put forth to avoid
evil and conform our lives to the elevating principles of the gospel."
(Miracle of Forgiveness, p135)
- "For the natural man is an enemy to God" (Mosiah 3:19).
- When we honor ourselves more than God, we are giving into natural man
tendencies. When we do so, we become an enemy to God.
- "...men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble
themselves" (Mosiah 3:18).
- How can we seek to honor ourselves, fulfill our vain ambitions, and
live the life of a "natural man" and expect to receive the rewards
- Neal A. Maxwell: "Heavenly power can be accessed only by those
who are Christlike; it is a power whose continued availability is maintained
by meekness along with the other virtues." (Meek and Lowly, p85)
- We will lose this "heavenly power" when we honor ourselves
and seek to fulfill our selfish ambitions. It can only be maintained as
we seek to live a Christlike life.
Eli Honors His Sons Above The Lord
- WHAT RESPONSIBILITY DID ELI HAVE WHEN HE LEARNED OF THE WICKEDNESS
OF HIS SONS?
HAD ELI FULFILLED HIS RESPONSIBILITY AS A FATHER?
- READ 1 SAMUEL 2:22-24. Eli questions his sons.
- HOW DID THEY RESPOND?
- "...they hearkened not unto the voice of their father"
READ 1 SAMUEL 2:27-29. A man of God delivers the Lord's chastisement
- He fulfilled his responsibility up to a point, but then he did nothing
further to correct the terrible sins in his family.
- WHY DIDN'T ELI REMOVE HIS SONS FROM THEIR PRIESTLY DUTIES?
- One would suppose that like most parents, there is hope that they might
change. It is often difficult to chastise a child. We might be afraid of
offending them or losing their affection. Eli's sons were wick fellows.
He might have even been afraid of retaliation.
The Lord told Eli that he "honourest thy sons above me"
- WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE ACTIONS OF ELI AND HIS SONS?
- "...they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed"
- Eli to lose his position (2:31-33).
- Hophni and Phinehas to die (2:34).
- IN WHAT WAYS DO WE SOMETIMES HONOR OTHER PEOPLE MORE THAN GOD?
- Like Eli, at times we might be hesitant to discipline our children
or call them to repentance.
I think we all find ourselves in situations where we may remain silent
rather than speak up.
- Joseph F. Smith: "...there should [not] be any of us so unwisely
indulgent, so thoughtless and so shallow in our affection for our children
that we dare not check them in a wayward course, in wrong-doing and in
their foolish love for the things of the world more than for the things
of righteousness, for fear of offending them." (Gospel Doctrine,
- HOW CAN PARENTS FULFILL THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD WAYWARD CHILDREN
IN A SPIRIT OF LOVE?
- I think one of the most important questions any parent can ask when
dealing with a difficult situation is, "If Jesus were the parent in
this home, how would he deal with this child?" When we put off our
anger, seek the spirit, and ask this question, new possibilities come to
- Here are a couple of challenging questions:
- How difficult would it be to cause your children to be removed from
a position of honor if you knew that they had committed a transgression
that would qualify them for removal?
- If you knew that you child had committed a sin that would qualify for
disfellowshipment or excommunication, would you go to the Church authorities?
Any situation where we act against that which we know is right because
we are afraid of what other people may think of us: honesty, word of wisdom,
situations regarding morality, etc.
- Dallin H Oaks: "We all remember how a prophet reacted from
a hospital bed when an operating room attendant stumbled and cursed in
his presence. Even half-conscious, Elder Kimball recoiled and implored:
'Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile'." (Ensign,
May 1986, p51)
- Regretfully, I frequently find myself in a similar situation, particularly
in the workplace. Who am I choosing to honor, when I do not speak out against
such language? Am I seeking to honor my associates by not offending them
when I do not speak out against such language? Am I seeking to honor myself,
by attempting to remain popular in the workplace?
- Several years ago I traveled from Seattle to San Francisco for my employer.
I was there for two weeks. Since the employer pays expenses, we are required
to complete a voucher on our return. It is a little complicated and so
my boss was assisting me with the completion of the voucher. He asked me
if I took the taxi to and from the San Francisco office each day. I replied
no. He said, "Sure you did." He then went on to explain how I
needed to fill in those amounts. Later, he explained how I should put down
extra amounts for meals. This was my boss. He was trying to help me get
extra money out of my trip. I was concerned about my relationship with
the man who held the power of my employment. I went on to complete the
voucher on my own using actual expenses only. But how easy it would have
been to fill in the amounts as he instructed.
Samuel Honors The Lord
- WHO RECALLS THE STORY OF THE CALLING OF SAMUEL? (See 1 Samuel 3:1-10)
WHY DID SAMUEL NOT KNOW IT WAS THE VOICE OF THE LORD CALLING TO HIM?
- Samuel was serving in the temple after his mother, Hannah, had given
him to the Lord's service.
- Samuel had laid down to sleep when the voice of the Lord called to
- Thinking it was Eli, Samuel ran into him and said, "Here am
I; for thou calledst me" (3:5).
- Eli said that he had not called him and sent the boy back to bed.
- The Lord called again, Samuel reported to Eli, and Eli sent the boy
back to bed (3:6).
- A third time, the Lord called. Samuel reported to Eli, but this time
Eli said, "Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that
thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth" (3:9).
- Samuel returned again to his bed and when the voice called to him,
Samuel said, "Speak; for thy servant heareth." The message
of the Lord was then delivered to Samuel (3:10-14).
- "And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none
of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba
knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD"
DO WE SOMETIMES HEAR THE VOICE OF THE LORD AND NOT RECOGNIZE IT?
HOW CAN WE BE SURE THAT WE RECOGNIZE THE LORD'S VOICE?
- According to verse 7, "...Samuel did not yet know the LORD,
neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him."
HOW DID SAMUEL HONOR THE LORD?
- Recall the words of Nephi to his brothers Laman and Lemuel: "Ye
are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have
seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from
time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye
were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has
spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth
to shake as if it were to divide asunder." (1 Nephi 17:45)
Like Samuel, when the Lord calls to us, are we willing to respond?
- When the Lord called Samuel he replied, "Here I am."
- Samuel was willing to respond to Lord. He did not ask the Lord to come
back in the morning when he was more rested or at a more convenient time.
- When Samuel responed to the Lord he said, "Speak; for thy servant
- Samuel was prepared listen to the message that the Lord would deliver.
He was tuned in.
- We know that Samuel lived a righteous life and heeded the words of
the Lord, for he became "a prophet of the LORD."
- When the bishop calls us to an assignment do we reply, "Here
- When we listen to the words of the prophet at General Conference, is
our attitude one of "Speak; for thy servant heareth"?
- Like Samuel, once we have responded, do we follow through and continue
to honor the Lord?
The Israelites Honor The World
- WHAT TYPE OF GOVERNMENT DID ISRAEL HAVE DURING SAMUEL'S MINISTRY?
Unfortunately, like many politicians, Samuel's "sons walked
not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted
This provoked the elders of Israel to seek for a change. They came
to Samuel and asked for a king.
- The reign of the judges continued. We read in Chapter 8 that "when
Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel" (8:1).
HOW DID SAMUEL RESPOND TO THEIR REQUEST?
- WHY DID THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WANT A KING?
- "...now make us a king to judge us like all the nations"
- "That we also may be like all the nations" (8:20).
- It was if they were saying, we are a growing nation, let us enter the
family of nations and have a government like unto them. Let us put away
this silly, backward notion of judges.
HOW DID ISRAEL RESPOND TO THEIR PROPHET?
- Samuel took the matter before the Lord.
- The Lord's response to Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the
people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee,
but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them"
- Samuel then went before the people and recited reasons for not having
a king (see 1 Samuel 8:11-17):
- There would be compulsory service to the nation (army & otherwise).
- Taxes would be laden upon the people.
- He would take of the lands and property of the people.
- He then issued a final warning, "And ye shall cry out in that
day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will
not hear you in that day" (8:18).
IN ASKING FOR A KING, WHOM DID THE ISRAELITES HONOR?
- "Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel;
and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us" (8:19).
IN WHAT WAYS DO WE SOMETIMES DESIRE TO BE "LIKE ALL THE NATIONS"
OR THE WORLD?
- They were seeking to be "like all the nations".
- They were seeking to honor the world and to be honored of the world,
but to do so they had rejected the Lord (see 8:7).
The pamphlet For The Strength of Youth provides the standards
that often set us apart from the world. Though addressed to the youth,
these standards apply to adults as well as youth.
- By our dress.
- By our speech.
- By our entertainment.
- By our Sabbath activities.
- Where do we find the "world" on a sunny Sabbath afternoon?
The ballpark, camping, boating, shopping.
- As we seek to honor the Lord, instead of the world, we have will be
blessed. The First Presidency stated in this brochure, "We bear witness
of the truth of these principles and promise you the blessings of the Lord
as you seek to keep the standards outlined in this pamphlet. Among those
blessings will be the constant and calming companionship of the Holy Ghost
and the feelings of peace and happiness that you will experience."
(For The Strength of Youth, p4)
The stories of Eli, his sons, and Samuel provide a contrast on how one
honors the Lord. What is the priority in our life? What do we really desire?
The only reason we belong to this Church is because of the promises of
eternity. If our desires are elsewhere, then we are placing our eternal
reward in jeopardy. The Lord said, "For what is a man profited,
if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall
a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
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