1 Samuel 3.11-4.11

Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel, at which the ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfil against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I tell him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons were blaspheming and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.

But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.”

And he said, “Here I am.”

And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And [Eli] said, “It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him.”

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.

Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines; they encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. The Philistines drew up in a line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who slew about four thousand men on the field of battle.

And when the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord put us to rout today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that He may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hopni and Phineas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded.

And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And when they learned that the ark of the Lord had come to the camp, the Philistines were afraid; for they said, “A god has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the wrath of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. Take courage, and acquit yourselves like men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves of the Hebrews as they have been to you; acquit yourselves like men, and fight!”

So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home; and there was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. And the ark of the Lord was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hopni and Phineas, were slain.

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3 responses

  1. So much here.Why do I get the feeling this passage spans a lifetime? – does it? – Eli’s? – Eli and sons? – the span of generations? – passing the torch to the next? – how can so few verses make me feel exhausted? “And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.”I felt great intimacy in the texts. Just a few days ago. When we started Samuel. A private intimacy. Almost autobiographical. As if the Spirit was sewing Samuel’s story into my heart. Making us brothers across time and distance. Why now do I feel an intrusion of phobias? Do my clients – even those who claim a certain agnosticism or who haven’t yet fully awakened to the Spirit – receive inner Prompts about their lives and cases which they too are afraid to tell me? — and to tell each other? – how little do I know of what is in their hearts? – what Prompts them? – their fears “to tell the vision?” Was Samuel politically correct?Wasn’t Samuel’s message to Eli a bit phobic? – if this version of the story is not true to how it really happened (whatever that means), and if later editors hijacked the story of Samuel into a political position, how dare such later editors take advantage of youth by setting such an anarchist (anarchist against Eli) example for later generations of youth? – how dare youth be abused in the child abuse of being made pawns to play out adult failures? – how dare later generations of editors of the text set such an extreme example for later generations of youth who must dare to overcome generations of perversity and blindness? – isn’t this story rather abusive of youth? – wouldn’t a young person be “afraid”? – to bear such a heavy burden of adult failures?As adults do fail, does the Spirit keep speaking? – how “afraid” are courageous youth today to correct the dim eyesight of elders? – how many so-called rebellious youth today are not merely going through adolescent rebellion, but instead, how many youth are responding to the Inner Witness to correct – even stand in the soon to be rubble – of generational failures? Ought we scuttle Samuel off to a certified clinical counselor for depth counseling for his hidden and repressed fears and deep phobias against his elders? – best of all, send Samuel off for medication? – can’t pharmacology overcome such phobia and hostility? How easy is it — for me — to stand in the Light when standing in the Light is cheap? – and costs me nothing?Cheers,Jim

  2. We don't have a guarantee of "how it really happened," but this story looks entirely plausible to me. (Even if later editors did want to uphold one line of priests against another.)As I understand things, we all receive inner Prompts; but some people much of the time are afraid to tell them to themselves. That aspect of attention again. If they don't believe it: 'You may be a bit of undigested beef, a blob of mustard, a crumb of cheese'– They avoid the fears, for now.And youth… like Samuel, they don't have a long lifetime of loyalty to past mistakes behind them. They know their elders aren't going to want to hear what they see coming. Eli is a pretty unusual sort of geezer, wanting to hear the truth, even if he can't make his sons listen.A good piece on commondreams.org today, by Robert Jensen:( http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/12-1 )"…So, the bad news is that we’re in trouble."The worse news is that the mainstream political culture cannot face this reality."Dissident political organizing must take into account the fact that contemporary America is deeply delusional. Our collective life is shaped by a propaganda-driven political system that ignores and evades. Political leaders — from the reactionary right of the Republican Party to the liberal left of the Democratic Party — are not interested in creating new systems to face these challenges but instead are mired in trivial debates about how to duct-tape together the existing social, economic, and political systems to allow us to live in our delusions a bit longer…"

  3. Outsanding! All around. And the link.

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