Once upon a time, there was a man named Elkanah…
1 Samuel 1:1-3 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.
Many of us have heard or read this story but here’s something that we may not have thought about before. Look at what Hophni & Phinehas were up to.
1 Samuel 2:12-17 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 13 The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” 16 And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.
1 Samuel 2:22-25 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.
These men, Phineas and Hophni were wicked men. They were selfish and evil. And, I would imagine that if their father Eli had heard of their awful deed, that many other people knew what these two were doing also.
Elkanah could have said, “I won’t go to the temple as long as those men are there. They are not following the ways of God.” He had every right to upset with these men, to be offended.
We live in a society where people look to be offended. The slightest misguided word, tone, gesture, joke, etc. can cause us to be angry, hold a grudge and become bitter. We are so quick to think that the other person is in the wrong.
The Church in general has a big problem with people leaving a church because: we don’t think someone is doing the right thing, leadership didn’t make the decision we thought they should, we don’t like the youth pastor, worship is not good enough, I don’t get anything out of the service. You name it, it’s been used as an excuse!
We cannot continue to take offense and abandon people just because we don’t like what’s going on, even if those people are in the wrong.
Elkanah chose to look past people’s failures and look to God. He took his family every year to sacrifice, even though he knew these men would not treat the sacrifice as holy. And because of his faithfulness, his wife, Hannah, who was barren, prayed for a son and the Lord remembered her. And Hannah didn’t just give birth to any son, that son was Samuel. Samuel was a prophet and a huge influence for God. He was a great man, who advised Saul and anointed David as King.
So, the next time something does not happen the way you want it to or someone says or does something you think is wrong, choose to look past the offense. You never know what God is birthing in you, your family, or your circle of influence. Simply overlooking that offense could affect the course of so many lives.