Monday, November 17, 2008


Eli had weak eyes, but his more profound ailment was bad ears. He didn't hear God when his servants were snatching meat from the Crock Pot before the meal was cooked. He didn't hear God when His sons were drinking scotch and performing one-night-stands like a priestly duty.

There is little in the Old Testament of Eli's hearing: public opinion (1 Sam. 2:22) and prophetic rebuke (2:27). It was Samuel who heard God--with good ears and bad eyes--as a voice calling his name in the night. He sought Eli, but the latter hushed him. Three greetings later, Eli redirected Samuel, telling the boy to have God speak.

And God did, but Eli didn't hear it. There is no record of Eli eavesdropping on the conversation. No recollection of the old man in his bed robe and slippers creeping up to Samuel's room with a cup to press against the door. The account fails to detail the distance between Eli's bed and Samuel's or the volume of God's voice. Thus the reader assumes God spoke in a whisper or the boy's head. We think this because Eli did not hear.

But even if Eli's weak eyes are a matter of geriatrics, his bad ears were a matter of choice. He didn't hear because he didn't want to. Hearing God would 'make his ears tingle' (3:11), because the news would be bad, and bad press is not better than no press.

The news, of course, was not new news, but it was breaking news. "Your house is guilty and there is no atonement," God had earlier told him. This was the first and last time Eli listened. God's voice had broke him--eyes, ears, mouth, and heart. Henceforeth, God never came direct, only mediated.

To Eli the voice of God was always twice-removed. God third-party. God in parables. I'm not sure this is too uncommon.

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear... To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God" (Mark 4:9, 11).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

tim i hope you dont mind but i am stealing this post, i will give you credit, i just want to let a few peeps read this. god bless hope all is well in your world