1 Samuel 3:14
And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.
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(14) Shall not be purged with sacrifice.—No earthly sacrifice, bloody or unbloody, should ever purge on earth the sin of the doomed high priestly house. A great theological truth is contained in these few words. in the sacrificial theory of the Mosaic Law we see there was a limit to the efficacy of sacrifice after a certain point in sin and evil example had been reached: a scar was printed on the life which no blood of bullock or of goat could wash away; but the quiet, though sorrowful, resignation with which the old man received the intimation of the certain earthly doom seems to indicate that Eli, sure of the love of the All-Pitiful, looked on to some other means of deliverance, devised in the counsels of the Eternal Friend of Israel, by which his deathless soul, after the earthly penalty, would be reconciled to the invisible King. Did not men like Eli look on in sure and certain trust to the one hope? Did not these holy, though often erring, patriarchs and priests see in those far-back days, “as in a glass darkly,” the blood of another Victim, which should cleanse the repentant and sorrowing sinner from all sin?

1 Samuel 3:14. I have sworn — Or, I do swear; the past tense being commonly put for the present in the Hebrew tongue. Unto the house of Eli — Or, concerning it. Shall not be purged — That is, the punishment threatened against Eli and his family shall not be prevented by all their sacrifices, but shall infallibly be executed.3:11-18 What a great deal of guilt and corruption is there in us, concerning which we may say, It is the iniquity which our own heart knoweth; we are conscious to ourselves of it! Those who do not restrain the sins of others, when it is in their power to do it, make themselves partakers of the guilt, and will be charged as joining in it. In his remarkable answer to this awful sentence, Eli acknowledged that the Lord had a right to do as he saw good, being assured that he would do nothing wrong. The meekness, patience, and humility contained in those words, show that he was truly repentant; he accepted the punishment of his sin.See the marginal references. The sin of the sons of Eli could not be purged by the appointed sacrifices of the Law. In blessed contrast with this declaration is the assurance of the New Testament 1 John 1:7; Acts 13:39. 5-18. he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me—It is evident that his sleeping chamber was close to that of the aged high priest and that he was accustomed to be called during the night. The three successive calls addressed to the boy convinced Eli of the divine character of the speaker, and he therefore exhorted the child to give a reverential attention to the message. The burden of [the Lord's message] was an extraordinary premonition of the judgments that impended over Eli's house; and the aged priest, having drawn the painful secret from the child, exclaimed, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good." Such is the spirit of meek and unmurmuring submission in which we ought to receive the dispensations of God, however severe and afflictive. But, in order to form a right estimate of Eli's language and conduct on this occasion, we must consider the overwhelming accumulation of judgments denounced against his person, his sons, his descendants—his altar, and nation. With such a threatening prospect before him, his piety and meekness were wonderful. In his personal character he seems to have been a good man, but his sons' conduct was flagrantly bad; and though his misfortunes claim our sympathy, it is impossible to approve or defend the weak and unfaithful course which, in the retributive justice of God, brought these adversities upon him. I have sworn; which might be done before, though it be mentioned here only. Or, I do swear; the past tense being commonly put for the present in the Hebrew tongue. Unto the house, or, concerning, as the prefix lamed is oft used, as Exodus 14:3 18:7 2 Samuel 11:7 Psalm 91:11, compared with Matthew 4:6.

Shall not be purged with sacrifice, i.e. the punishment threatened against Eli and his family shall not be prevented or hindered by all their sacrifices, as they fondly imagine, but shall infallibly be executed. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli,.... Either had done this before, which was signified to him by the man of God, or did swear now for the confirmation of his threatenings, and to assure the certain performance of them:

that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever: not even typically, which was all that legal sacrifice could do; and not so that the priesthood should ever return to the family again, as the office of high priesthood never did; or, as Abarbinel interprets it, because of sacrifice and offering, that the iniquity Eli's sons were guilty of in taking the flesh of the sacrifices and offerings, which did not belong to them, and before the Lord had his part, should never be expiated. (There are some sins that are not covered in the atonement of Jesus Christ. This is one of them and the sin against the Holy Ghost is another. Matthew 12:31. Editor.)

And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for {i} ever.

(i) Meaning that his posterity would never enjoy the chief priests office.

14. shall not be purged] Lit., shall not cover itself; shall not make atonement for itself. The sons of Eli had sinned, ‘with a high hand,’ against light and warnings, and for such unrepentant presumptuous offenders the Law had no atonement. See Numbers 15:27-31. The doom of their house is pronounced, and ratified by the oath of God. Clearly however it is only to the temporal punishment of Eli’s family that the words refer in the first instance. Cp. Isaiah 22:14.

sacrifice nor offering] See note on 1 Samuel 2:29.Verse 14. - Sacrifice nor offering. The first of these is zebach, the sacrifice of an animal by the shedding of its blood; the second is the minchah, or unbloody sacrifice. The guilt of Eli's sons could be purged, i.e. expiated, by none of the appointed offerings for sin, because they had hardened themselves in their wrong doing even after the solemn warning in 1 Samuel 2:27-36. Hence the marked repetition of the denunciation of finality in their doom. Again it is said that it is forever. It has, however, been well noticed that though the message of Samuel confirms all that had been threatened by the man of God, yet that no bitter or painful words are put into the mouth of one who was still a child. For this there may also be a further reason. The first message was intended to give Eli and his sons a final opportunity of repentance, and, that it might produce its full effect, the severity of the doom impending upon them was clearly set before their eyes. They did not repent. Eli hardened himself in his weakness, and took no steps to vindicate God's service from the slur cast upon it by an unworthy priesthood. His sons hardened themselves in crime, and made their office a reproach. It was enough, therefore, to repeat and confirm generally the terms of the former prophecy, as no moral object would be gained by calling attention to the severity of the coming judgment. As soon as Samuel heard his name called out, he hastened to Eli to receive his commands. But Eli bade him lie down again, as he had not called him. At first, no doubt, he thought the call which Samuel had heard was nothing more than a false impression of the youth, who had been fast asleep. But the same thing was repeated a second and a third time; for, as the historian explains in 1 Samuel 3:6, "Samuel had not yet known Jehovah, and (for) the word of Jehovah was not yet revealed to him." (The perfect ידע after טרם, though very rare, is fully supported by Psalm 90:2 and Proverbs 8:25, and therefore is not to be altered into ידע, as Dietrich and Bttcher propose.) He therefore imagined again that Eli had called him. But when he came to Eli after the third call, Eli perceived that the Lord was calling, and directed Samuel, if the call were repeated, to answer, "Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth."
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