1 Samuel 3:18
And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seems him good.
Let us see what virtue Eli manifests in the text; then, how he displayed it; and, what lessons may be drawn from the subject.
I. THE VIRTUE.
1. It was conformity to the Will of God. viewed in relation to God, this virtue is based upon the realisation of His goodness, and that therefore His will is always just and good and wise.
2. Further, that nothing happens unless it is designed or permitted by Him. Eli's instinctive expression, "It is the Lord," reveals the habit of his soul to discern God's hand in all things.
3. But the words express the entire resignation of his own will to the will of God. In this lies the virtue. It was not a mere emotion, but an act of that within him must have been a habit. Difficult occasions do not create virtues, but call them into operation.
4. Holy Scripture supplies us with many instances of conformity of will to God, which is a law which holds good throughout the spiritual sphere, as that of gravitation does in the natural sphere: e.g. the answer of the Shunamite, when her child had died, "It is well," or "Peace" (2 Kings 4:26). Again, Job's wonderful resignation, expressed by the words, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).
II. How DISPLAYED.
1. Promptly. There was no hesitation or delay. We know how, when some great loss is broken to us, for a time we are apt to be overwhelmed, dazed, and bewildered with grief, and want a little pause before we can gather ourselves together again and attempt to cry, "Not my will, but Thine, be done." But with the aged Eli, the accents of resignation followed immediately upon the announcement of the evils which would befall him and his house. He apparently sustained the shock without perturbation, though evidently a man of deep affections.
2. Humbly. Men often disdain to be corrected by their juniors, but Eli displayed no such sensitiveness. Though judge and priest, he heard with humbleness of mind the tale of woes and denunciation from the lips of the innocent child, and expressed the justice of what God was about to bring upon him. Most painful and humiliating, and, as far as this life was concerned, irretrievable; yet no word of murmuring or self-defence escaped from his mouth.
3. Absolutely. "Let Him do what seemeth Him good." Not "what seemeth good to me." This is true liberty of spirit. So the greatness of Eli's prompt, humble, and absolute resignation is accentuated by the consideration of the time when he lived and the circumstances of the period.
1. We are warned, by the judgments upon Eli and his family, of the momentousness of the duty of rebuking sin, and especially on the part of parents, rulers, and priests.
2. The practice of conforming the will to God in all the events of life, and that with the same features of promptness, lowliness, and entirety as Eli manifested, is the chief lesson from the text.
3. Further, to remember that we can learn conformity from the self-surrender of Christ to His Father's will, especially in His Passion and death, and that we are aided in the production of this grace by the presence of the Holy Ghost; so that to say, "Not my will, but Thine, be done," is easier for us than it was for Eli.
4. The root of his conformity of will comes to view at the moment of his death. He bore up when he heard the tidings of the great slaughter of the people, and that his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were dead; but when he was told that the ark of God was taken he fell backward and died. Evidently God, and the things of God — notwithstanding his past great and culpable negligence — held the first place in his heart; hence this submission to His Will.
(Canon Hutchings, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.