1 Samuel 2:25
If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.
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(25) Sin against the Lord.—This touches on the mystery of sin. There are transgressions which may again and again receive pardon, but there seems to be a transgression beyond the limits of Divine forgiveness. The pitiful Redeemer, in no obscure language, told His listeners the same awful truth when He warned them of the sin against the Holy Ghost.

They hearkened not . . . because the Lord would slay them.—Here the mysteries connected with God’s foreknowledge and man’s free-will are touched upon. The Lord’s resolution to slay them was founded on the eternal foreknowledge of their persistence in wrong-doing.

There seems to be a period in the sinner’s life when the Spirit of the Eternal ceases to plead; then the man is left to himself, and he feels no longer any remorse for evil done; this is spoken of in Exodus 4:21 as “hardening the heart.” This period in the life of Hophni and Phinehas apparently had been reached when the Lord resolved to slay them.

1 Samuel 2:25. If one man sin against another, &c. — If only man be wronged, man can set the matter right, and reconcile the persons. If a man sin against the Lord — As you have done, wilfully and presumptuously; who shall entreat for him? — The offence is of so high a nature that few or none will dare to intercede for him, but will leave him to the just judgment of God. The words may be rendered, Who shall judge for him? Who shall interpose as umpire between God and him? Who shall compound that difference? None can or dare do it. And therefore he must be left to the dreadful but righteous displeasure of God. Eli reasoned well; but reasoning was not sufficient, nor any reproof he could have given in this case. It demanded a more serious interference; and he ought not to have referred their punishment unto God, when it was in his power to have punished them himself. They hearkened not, &c., because the Lord would slay them — Or, as the Hebrew may be rendered, Therefore the Lord would slay them. The sense, however, according to the common translation, is Scriptural and good. They had disregarded many admonitions, which, no doubt, their father had given them; they had now hardened their hearts, and sinned away their day of grace, and therefore God had given them up to a reprobate mind, and determined to destroy them, 2 Chronicles 25:16.

2:11-26 Samuel, being devoted to the Lord in a special manner, was from a child employed about the sanctuary in the services he was capable of. As he did this with a pious disposition of mind, it was called ministering unto the Lord. He received a blessing from the Lord. Those young people who serve God as well as they can, he will enable to improve, that they may serve him better. Eli shunned trouble and exertion. This led him to indulge his children, without using parental authority to restrain and correct them when young. He winked at the abuses in the service of the sanctuary till they became customs, and led to abominations; and his sons, who should have taught those that engaged in the service of the sanctuary what was good, solicited them to wickedness. Their offence was committed even in offering the sacrifices for sins, which typified the atonement of the Saviour! Sins against the remedy, the atonement itself, are most dangerous, they tread under foot the blood of the covenant. Eli's reproof was far too mild and gentle. In general, none are more abandoned than the degenerate children of godly persons, when they break through restraints.The sense seems to be, If one man sin against another, the judge shall amerce him in the due penalty, and then he shall be free; but if he sin against the Lord, who shall act the part of judge and arbiter for him? His guilt must remain to the great day of judgment.

Because the Lord would slay them - There is a sense in which whatever comes to pass is the accomplishment of God's sovereign will and pleasure, and all the previous steps, even when they involve moral causes, by which this will and pleasure are brought about, are in this sense also brought about by God. How this truth, which reason and revelation alike acknowledge, consists with man's free will on the one hand; or, when the evil deeds and punishment of a sinner are some of the previous steps, with God's infinite mercy and love on the other, is what cannot possibly be explained. We can only firmly believe both statements,

(1) that God hath no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, and that He willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live;

(2) that the sins and the punishments of sin are accomplishments of God's eternal purpose (compare the marginal references, and Isaiah 6:9-10; Mark 4:12; Romans 9:15). It may be explained by saying that in the case of Hophni and Phinehas God's will to kill them was founded upon His foreknowledge of their impenitence; while from another point of view, in which God's will is the fixed point, that impenitence may be viewed in its relation to that fixed point, and so dependent upon it, and a necessary step to it.

25. they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because—it should be therefore.

the Lord would slay them—It was not God's preordination, but their own wilful and impenitent disobedience which was the cause of their destruction.

If one man sin against another, by doing any injury.

The judge shall judge him; the magistrate shall by his sentence end the difference, and both parties shall acquiesce in his determination, and so the breach shall be made up. The sense is, if only man be wronged, man can right it, and reconcile the persons.

If a man sin against the Lord, to wit, in such manner as you have done, directly and immediately, in the matters of his worship and service, wilfully and presumptuously.

Who shall entreat for him? the offence is of so high a nature, that few or none will dare to intercede for him, but will leave him to the just judgment of God. He speaks after the manner of men, who do oft intercede with the prince for such as have injured any private person; but will not presume to do so when the injury is committed against his own person. The words are, and may be thus rendered,

Who shall judge for him? Who shall interpose himself as umpire, or arbitrator, between God and him? Who shall compound that difference? None can or dare do it, and therefore he must be left to the dreadful, but righteous judgment of God; which is your case and misery. Because the Lord would slay them, i.e. because God hath determined to destroy them for their many and great sins; and therefore would not and did not give them grace to hearken to Eli’s counsel, and to repent of their wickedness, but hardened their hearts to their destruction.

If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him, &c. When one man does an injury to another in his person and property, the case is brought before the judge, he hears it, examines into it, and determines upon it, and does justice, orders that the injured person have satisfaction made him, and so the matter is ended:

but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him? all sin is in some sense against God, as it is contrary to his nature, and a breach of his law, and especially bold, daring, presumptuous sins; but there are some sins that are more immediately and particularly against God, as sins against the first table of the law, which relate to the worship of God, and such were the sins of Eli's sons in the affair of sacrifices; all sin against God is aggravated by the perfections of his nature, and made tremendous, as being against a God of strict justice, of unspotted purity and holiness, and who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent; and by the relation and connection there is between God and men, he is their Creator and Preserver, the God of their lives and mercies, and of all the blessings they enjoy, and yet sin against him! who will entreat the favour of God for such persons, ask pardon for them, and beseech the Lord to be propitious and merciful to them? who on earth will do it? such persons are scarce and rare, few care to stand up in the gap between God and sinners; in some cases they ought not, in others they cannot. Eli suggests by this question, that he could not, even for his own sons; and who in heaven can or will do it? not saints departed, who know nothing of what is done below, nor angels, only the Lord Jesus Christ; he is the only Mediator between God and men, who has engaged his heart to approach unto God, and interpose between him and sinful men, and has made peace and reconciliation by his blood, and is become the propitiation for sin, and ever lives to make intercession for transgressors, and is always prevalent and successful in his mediation and intercession; excepting him, there is none to entreat for those that have sinned against the Lord, see 1 John 2:1. In answer to this question, who shall entreat for him? the Jews say (x) repentance and good works; but these are insufficient advocates for a sinner, without the atoning sacrifice of Christ, who is propitiation for sin, and upon which a plea can only be founded:

notwithstanding, they hearkened not unto the voice of their father; to his reproofs and counsels, his reasonings and expostulations; though his rebukes were so gentle, and this last reasoning of his so close and strong, so nervous and striking:

because the Lord would slay them; it was his purpose and decree, his will and pleasure, to cut them off for their wickedness; wherefore he gave them up to a judicial blindness, and hardness of heart, as he did Pharaoh, so that they were proof against all advice, admonitions, and arguments used with them: some choose to read the words, "therefore the Lord would slay them" (y), because they were disobedient to the voice of their father; but the former sense is best; for his will to destroy them was not so much for their disregard to the reproofs of their father in which he himself was culpable, as for their breach of his laws.

(x) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 87. 1.((y) "ideo", Noldius, p. 395. No. 1342. "idcirco vel quapropter", Quistorp, so Patrick.

If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD {r} would slay them.

(r) So that to obey good admonition is God's mercy, and to disobey them is his just judgment for sin.

25. If one man &c.] Better,

If a man sin against a man, then Elohim shall judge him:

but if a man sin against Jehovah, who shall intercede for him?

For man’s offences against his fellow-man, there is a third superior party to arbitrate and rectify the wrongs, namely God, or God’s representative, the duly appointed judge: but for man’s offences against Jehovah, there is no third superior party to intercede as a mediator.

This is most likely an ancient proverb, quoted by Eli to impress his sons with a sense of the enormity of their sins, which were committed against Jehovah. The point is obscured by the impossibility of translating the paronomasia of the Hebrew which expresses “judge” and “intercede” by different voices of the same verb.

the judge] Heb. Elôhîm, i.e. God. Judges, as the representatives of God in executing justice on earth (Deuteronomy 1:17), are sometimes styled gods (Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9; Psalm 82:1; Psalm 82:6), but it seems best not to limit the present passage to human judgments.

because the Lord would slay them] Literally, was pleased to slay them. Compare the language of Exodus 4:21, and Joshua 11:20, where we read that the Lord hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and the Canaanites; and 1 Samuel 16:14, where it is said that “an evil spirit from the Lord troubled Saul.” Yet we are assured that “the Lord delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18), and “hath no pleasure in the death of him that dieth” (Ezekiel 18:32). This coexistence of mercy and judgment in the divine will (Exodus 34:6-7) is a mystery which necessarily transcends our comprehension. But it must be carefully noted that it is not till Pharaoh has turned a deaf ear to repeated warnings, not till the Canaanites have polluted themselves with intolerable abominations, that God hardens their hearts; not till Eli’s sons have ignored His existence and defied His laws docs He determine to slay them: not till Saul has set at naught his calling and deserted God, is he deserted by Him. Obstinate impenitence may be judicially punished by the withdrawal of the grace which leads to repentance.

1 Samuel 2:25"If man sins against man, God judges him; but if a man sins against Jehovah, who can interpose with entreaty for him?" In the use of פּללו and יתפּלּל־לו there is a paranomasia which cannot be reproduced in our language. פּלּל signifies to decide or pass sentence (Genesis 48:11), then to arbitrate, to settle a dispute as arbitrator (Ezekiel 16:52; Psalm 106:30), and in the Hithpael to act as mediator, hence to entreat. And these meanings are applicable here. In the case of one man's sin against another, God settles the dispute as arbitrator through the proper authorities; whereas, when a man sins against God, no one can interpose as arbitrator. Such a sin cannot be disposed of by intercession. But Eli's sons did not listen to this admonition, which was designed to reform daring sinners with mild words and representation; "for," adds the historian, "Jehovah was resolved to slay them." The father's reproof made no impression upon them, because they were already given up to the judgment of hardening. (On hardening as a divine sentence, see the discussions at Exodus 4:21.)
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