1 Samuel 2:30
Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
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(30) . . . but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me.—But the fulfilment of the glorious and gracious promise which involved the walking of the favoured house for ever in the light of the Lord in the blessed courts of the sanctuary with no worldly cares—were they not amply provided for without sowing and reaping?—were they not invested with high honours and universal consideration?—was necessarily dependent upon those that walked, the favoured house carrying out their share of the covenant. To be honoured of God, they for their part must be His faithful servants. Now the life and conduct of the priestly house had wrought the gravest dishonour and brought the deepest shame on the worship and sanctuary of the “King in Jeshurun.”

1 Samuel 2:30. I said — Where, or when did God say this? To Eli himself, or to his father, when the priesthood was translated from Eleazar’s to Ithamar’s family. Should walk before me — That is, minister unto me as high-priest. Walking is often put for discharging one’s office; before me, may signify that he was the high-priest, whose sole prerogative it was to minister before God, or before the ark, in the most holy place. For ever — As long as the Mosaical law and worship lasts. Be it far from me — To fulfil my promise, which I hereby retract.

2:27-36 Those who allow their children in any evil way, and do not use their authority to restrain and punish them, in effect honour them more than God. Let Eli's example excite parents earnestly to strive against the beginnings of wickedness, and to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In the midst of the sentence against the house of Eli, mercy is promised to Israel. God's work shall never fall to the ground for want of hands to carry it on. Christ is that merciful and faithful High Priest, whom God raised up when the Levitical priesthood was thrown off, who in all things did his Father's mind, and for whom God will build a sure house, build it on a rock, so that hell cannot prevail against it.Be it far from me - The phrase so rendered is a favorite one in the Books of Samuel, where it occurs ten or eleven times. It is variously rendered in the King James Version, "God forbid," and "Be it far from me, thee, etc." Literally, "Be it an abomination to me." 1Sa 2:27-35. A Prophecy against Eli's House.

27. there came a man of God unto Eli, and said … that there shall not be an old man in thine house—So much importance has always, in the East, been attached to old age, that it would be felt to be a great calamity, and sensibly to lower the respectability of any family which could boast of few or no old men. The prediction of this prophet was fully confirmed by the afflictions, degradation, poverty, and many untimely deaths with which the house of Eli was visited after its announcement (see 1Sa 4:11; 14:3; 22:18-23; 1Ki 2:27).

I said indeed.

Quest. Where or when did God say this?

Answ. Either,

1. When he made that promise for the perpetuation of the priesthood in Aaron’s family, Exodus 28:43 29:9.

Object. If Eli and all his family had been cut off, yet that promise had been made good in Eleazar’s family: how then was that promise recalled by this sentence against Eli?

Answ. It was recalled and made void, though not absolutely and universally to all Aaron’s family, yet respectively to Eli and his family, which were wholly excluded from the benefit of it, wherein otherwise they should have shared; even as God’s keeping of the Israelites out of Canaan and in the wilderness for forty years, and destroying them there, is called his breach of promise, Numbers 14:31, although the promise of Canaan was not simply made void to all the Israelites, but only to that evil generation of them; or as God’s covenant with David, and with his seed, of which God saith that it should stand fast, Psalm 89:28, and that he would not break nor alter it, 1 Samuel 2:34, yet is said to be made void, 1 Samuel 2:35, to wit, in regard of some particular branches or members of that family. Or,

2. To Eli himself, or to his father, when the priesthood was translated from Eleazar’s to Ithamar’s family, for some cause not mentioned in Scripture, but most probably for some great miscarriage of some of them. If it be said that there is no such promise recorded in Scripture, it may be so replied, That there are many sayings and doings noted in Holy Scripture which were not spoken of in their proper times and places, as Genesis 24:51 42:21 Hosea 12:4 Luke 11:49 Acts 20:25. So the sense of the place may be this, That promise and privilege of the perpetuation of the priesthood in Phinehas and his family, made to them Numbers 25:12,13, namely, upon condition of his and their faithfulness in their office, which is plainly understood, I now take away from that family for their wickedness, and I transfer it to thee and thine, and will fix it there upon the same condition.

Should walk before me, i.e. minister unto me as high priest. Walking is oft put for discharging one’s office; before me may signify that he was the high priest, whose sole prerogative it was to minister before God, or before the ark, in the most holy place.

For ever; as long as the Mosaical law and worship lasted, as that phrase is oft used.

Be it far from me, to wit, to fulfil my promise, which I repent of, and hereby retract.

Them that honour me; that worship and serve me with reverence and godly fear, and according to my will, which I esteem as an honour done to me.

I will honour; I will advance them to honour, and maintain them in it.

They that despise me; not formally and directly; for so Eli’s sons did not despise God; but indirectly and by consequence, by presumptuous disobedience of my commands; by defiling and disgracing my worship and ordinances, either by transgressing the rules I have given them therein, or by their ungodly and shameful conversation; and by making my service contemptible and abominable to others through their scandals: all which are manifest arguments of contempt of God, and are so called, as Numbers 11:20 1 Samuel 12:9,10 Mal 1:8, and all which were eminently found in Eli’s sons.

Shall be lightly esteemed, both by God and men.

Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith,.... This being the case, so much contempt cast upon his sacrifices, and dishonour on himself:

I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever; or minister in the priest's office before him: if the house of Aaron in general is meant, it did continue so to do, in one branch or another of it, as long as the Mosaic dispensation lasted, which is meant by the phrase "for ever"; but since it is afterwards denied that it should, rather the house of Ithamar, or of the immediate parent of Eli, is meant, and this said when the priesthood was translated from the family of Eleazar to the family of Ithamar; when, and on what account that was done, we nowhere read. It is a tradition (f), that it was in the time of the Levite's concubine; and because Phinehas, and the other priests, did not go from city to city, and reprove the Israelites for the many sins they were fallen into, that the priesthood was taken away out of the family of Eleazar, and translated to that of Ithamar:

but now the Lord saith, be it far from me; to continue the priesthood in the line of Ithamar; which argues no change in the purposes or promises of God, this being not a decree of his, but a declaration of his will; that if the house of Ithamar behaved well in the discharge of the office of the high priest, it should continue with them to the end of the Mosaic dispensation, but if not, it should be taken from them, and restored to the family of Eleazar; as it was in Solomon's time:

for them that honour me I will honour; as Phinehas the son of Eleazar did at Shittim, where he showed his zeal for the Lord of hosts, and had the promise of the everlasting priesthood; and which continued in his family until the Babylonish captivity, excepting the interval in which it was in the family of Ithamar, and for what reason is not known:

and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed; as the posterity of Eli, whose sons despised the Lord, and his offerings, as appeared by their conduct; and these were killed in battle in one day, and in the times of Solomon, Abiathar, of the posterity of Eli, was thrust out of the priesthood, and Zadok, of the line of Eleazar, was put in his room, 1 Kings 2:27.

(f) Midrash Samuel, apud Jarch. & Kimch. in loc.

Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, {u} Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

(u) God's promises are only effective to those he gives faith to fear and obey him.

30. saith] The Heb. word is one rarely used except of a solemn divine utterance, as in Genesis 22:16, and very commonly in the prophets.

I said indeed that thy house, and the house of the father, should walk before me for ever] God had promised that the family of Aaron in all its branches should serve perpetually as priests in His presence (Exodus 29:9; Numbers 25:13): but now the decree must be reversed, for the faithlessness of Eli’s sons had broken the covenant.

Verse 30. - I said indeed. By thus acting Eli became an accomplice in the irreligion of his sons, and God therefore revokes his grant of a perpetual priesthood. The promise had been made to Aaron's family as a whole (Exodus 29:9), and had then been renewed to the house of Eleazar (Numbers 25:13). But the house of Ithamar was now in the ascendant, probably owing to Eli's own ability, who during the anarchical times of the Judges had won for himself, first, the civil power, and then, upon some fitting opportunity, the high priesthood also, though I suppose the heads of the houses of Eleazar and Ithamar were always persons of great importance, and high priests in a certain sense. Eli had now the priority, and had he and his family proved worthy, the possession of this high station might have been confirmed to them. Like Saul in the kingdom, they proved unworthy of it, and so they lost it forever. Their names, as we have seen above, do not even occur in the genealogies. I said .... but now Jehovah saith. Can then a promise of God be withdrawn? Yes, assuredly. Not from mankind as a whole, nor from the Church as a whole, but from each particular nation, or Church, or individual. To each separate person God's promises are conditional, and human action everywhere is a coworker with the Divine volition, though only within a limited sphere, and so as that the Divine purposes must finally be accomplished. Eli then and his sons may suffer forfeit of the promise by not fulfilling the obligations which, whether expressed or implied, are an essential condition of every promise made by God to man. But the high priesthood will continue, and will perform its allotted task of preparing for the priesthood of Christ. "Them that honour me I will honour," states one of these conditions essential on man's part to secure the fulfilment of God's promises. 1 Samuel 2:30For this reason, the saying of the Lord, "Thy house (i.e., the family of Eli) and thy father's house (Eli's relations in the other lines, i.e., the whole priesthood) shall walk before me for ever" (Numbers 25:13), should henceforth run thus: "This be far from me; but them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be despised." The first declaration of the Lord is not to be referred to Eli particularly, as it is by C. a Lapide and others, and understood as signifying that the high-priesthood was thereby transferred from the family of Eleazar to that of Ithamar, and promised to Eli for his descendants for all time. This is decidedly at variance with the fact, that although "walking before the Lord" is not a general expression denoting a pious walk with God, as in Genesis 17:1, but refers to the service of the priests at the sanctuary as walking before the face of God, yet it cannot possibly be specially and exclusively restricted to the right of entering the most holy place, which was the prerogative of the high priest alone. These words of the Lord, therefore, applied to the whole priesthood, or the whole house of Aaron, to which the priesthood had been promised, "for a perpetual statute" (Exodus 29:9). This promise was afterwards renewed to Phinehas especially, on account of the zeal which he displayed for the honour of Jehovah in connection with the idolatry of the people at Shittim (Numbers 25:13). But even this renewed promise only secured to him an eternal priesthood as a covenant of peace with the Lord, and not specially the high-priesthood, although that was included as the culminating point of the priesthood. Consequently it was not abrogated by the temporary transfer of the high-priesthood from the descendants of Phinehas to the priestly line of Ithamar, because even then they still retained the priesthood. By the expression "be it far from me," sc., to permit this to take place, God does not revoke His previous promise, but simply denounces a false trust therein as irreconcilable with His holiness. That promise would only be fulfilled so far as the priests themselves honoured the Lord in their office, whilst despisers of God who dishonoured Him by sin and presumptuous wickedness, would be themselves despised.

This contempt would speedily come upon the house of Eli.

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