So, it’s been a while.
We welcomed our second daughter in September and WHOOBOY has life been bonkers since then (surprise, surprise). Kiddo Secundo entered the world via a picture perfect c-section. My recovery was great. Breastfeeding initiated like a dream. We thought Older Sister was an easy baby but WOW – Kiddo Secundo makes Older Sister look like a colicky nightmare. That is, she did until we hit the dreaded four-month sleep regression. It took us a while to get things back under control (as much as one can “control” the behaviors of another human being), but now that they are, I feel like I’m finally coming out of Baby Fog and entering some semblance of a new normal and can get back to some regular writing.
I am also, very thankfully, back to a regular Bible study. I’m in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), and this year we are doing “People of the Promised Land, Part I,” which is a survey of various Old Testament books. My BSF group started the week Kiddo Secundo was born, so I didn’t actually make it to class for a couple of months, but I was really convicted by our study of Eli the priest, found in 1 Samuel.
Eli is the priest who trains Samuel. One of the first things we learn about Eli (other than his rebuke of Hannah for assuming she is drunk when she’s not) is that he has “worthless” sons (1 Sam. 2:12). They were blaspheming the sacrifices made to God and sleeping with the women who were serving alongside them. The narrative says “Now Eli was very old…” when he rebuked his sons (1 Sam 2:22) for their behavior, and they “would not listen to the voice of their father” (25).
When God calls Samuel, he “was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. … At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.” (1 Sam 3:1-3) Yet, when Samuel hears God’s voice, Eli cannot.
Finally, when Israel went out to fight the Philistines and suffered defeat, they decided that they needed the Ark of God in their camp with the army. Eli’s sons bring the Ark, and it’s captured. “Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said, ‘What is this uproar?’ Then the man hurried and came and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set so that he could not see. And the man said to Eli, ‘I am he who has come from the battle; I fled from the battle today.’ And he said, ‘How did it go, my son?’ He who brought the news answered and said, ‘Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great defeat among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.’ As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy.” (1 Sam 3:13-18).
A few things here: Eli’s heart “trembled” for the Ark, but he either apparently didn’t notice the Ark was gone, let Israel take the Ark out into battle, or was powerless to stop his sons from taking the Ark out. This is also the second time the narrative tells us Eli was blind. Also, he was “old and heavy.” Now, I don’t know a lot, but I imagine it takes rather a lot of laziness to be “heavy” in the ancient Near East.
I wondered as I was reflecting on Eli whether he was actually blind, or if history recorded that he was because he turned a blind eye to things he ought not. I wondered why he was sleeping while Samuel was still awake to hear God’s call. And then I wondered how much of his story is my story.
What a gracious warning God gives us in the life of Eli. He has given my husband and I two precious girls to raise, and they require all of our eyes, ears, and heart to train them up “in the way [they] should go; even when [they] old [they] will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) I can’t say that I have been doing so perfectly, or even super consistently, but the story of Eli was a catalyst for me to really start examining my habits and the example they set for our daughters. With God’s help, I am working to change course in a number of areas of my life. I know that ultimately the choices my children make will be theirs, just like Eli’s sons’ choices were their own, but I want to be able to say with confidence that I did what God asked of me as a parent. I am so glad He gives us His Word to show us what is on the line, to encourage us that we aren’t alone, and to give instruction!