Israel had just lost a battle against the Philistines. They lost not only the battle, but the ark of the covenant as well. The statement above was uttered by the wife of Hophni when told that her husband, along with his brother Phinehas, had died in the battle and the ark taken by the enemy.
Yet, it was because of Hophni and Phinehas that Israel lost the battle and the ark, for they were defiling the offering to God:
Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD. Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.” If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.” This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they were treating the LORD’s offering with contempt (1 Samuel 2:12-17).
Their defilement had three factors.
How? They were not being true to their priesthood. The mandate of the priesthood was to be mediators between God and man. They ministered to God and then to man. Out of the priesthood came the High Priest. Thus, the priesthood was held to the most stringent of standards and behavior.
Hophni and Phinehas failed to live up to those standards.
We, too, as Christians have a calling or purpose from God if we have professed a commitment to follow Christ. When we refuse to heed God’s calling, it is akin to defiling that calling. If we do not know our calling or purpose from God, than we must seek to know it. When we are true to our calling or purpose, God’s glory shines upon us.
Along with their calling, Hophni and Phinehas had a heritage to keep. First, they had the heritage of being sons of the present judge who was Eli; yet they defied their own father by not obeying God.
Second, they had the heritage of being Levitical priests. The Levites were called to be priests because of their loyalty to God, being the first to side with Moses against those who were worshipping the Golden Calf. Yet, they showed disloyalty when they defiled the offering.
Third, they carried the heritage of being victorious in battle. Israel had the reputation of always being victorious in battle because they had the one true God on their side. Their enemies were deathly afraid of them. So, when they lost the battle, they lost their reputation, their integrity, their credibility and, of course, the glory of the Lord
They defiled their heritage by assuming that, in spite of sinning against God, they could still carry the ark into battle believing they would be invincible. But God had already judged them and the ark became merely an empty ornate container.
As Christians, we too have a heritage to keep. It is the heritage of being children of God, saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is a heritage that brings with it the Transfiguration, the Ascension, the various miracles of Jesus, the death on Calvary, the Resurrection and not the least the hope of his return as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Does the world see us as a glorious heritage of Christianity? Or does the world see us as an empty, ornate container?
By misusing the offering and then by misusing the Ark, they defiled their worship of God. To them God was merely an instrument instead of them being instruments of God. To them God was not worthy; they were. To them God was not the most valuable factor in their lives; it was their stomachs.
In their act of defilement, they were not worshipping God, they were worshipping themselves. In effect, they were robbing God of what belonged to him.
Worship is to declare that God is worthier than all things in that he is more valuable than anything we own, and more valuable even than our own lives. (Read how David worshipped God in this post.)
Yet, we can be guilty of not giving God the glory due his name by not giving the correct tithes, our time and our talents. We come late for the Sunday worship service and thereby miss out on the time of corporate worship. Singing songs of praise and worship is an integral part of the service.
Have we been defiling the offering as Hophni and Phinehas did? In doing so, we cheapen God.
We make him less than who he truly is, the Most High God!
(I’d love to read what you think about this article. Please comment below.)
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. -Psalm 96:1-2
How do I understand the verses above? Must I compose a song to the Lord? Must I dig up a new song from Youtube to sing to the Lord?
I believe the verses above speak more about the attitude of the heart when approaching the Lord. Allow me to postulate three:
1. Come to the Lord with a refreshed heart. If there’s anything that the Holy Spirit enjoys doing it’s refreshing our inner person. God is the God of the new. He brings newness to us everyday. When we come to God, let us come with a desire to be refreshed and renewed, so that, when we sing unto Him, though it may be an old hymn, there will be a newness to the song.
Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. -Acts 3:20 (NLT)
2. Come to the Lord with joy. The Lord saves! And whatever salvation may mean –from the penalty of sin to overcoming trials and tribulations– it is always a reason to be joyful. A heart full of joy is already a heart that is singing. The melody may be silent, the words unheard, but the Lord hears the song, for the world will sing with you.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. -Isaiah 55:12 (NIV)
3. Come to the Lord with overflowing gratitude. There will always be more than one reason to thank God. Thus, our thanksgiving must always be exuberant and never-ending. To be thankful is to open more doors to God’s blessings and opportunities. Gratitude to the Lord is always a song of praise.
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV)
Some say that meditation involves the quieting of the mind. On the contrary, I believe that meditation is a quieting of the heart.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. -Psalm 19:14
It is difficult to quiet the mind. This is why some meditation practitioners advice that, as one meditates, he should not dwell on any thought that passes through the mind, but let it pass through without judgment. Yet, is it not an activity of the mind just to try to quiet the mind?
But it is not difficult to quiet the heart. In fact, it is through a quiet heart that God can speak. It only requires an environment of silence.
It is in silence that we can know –deep within– the love of God. God’s love does not enter through our minds. It enters through our hearts.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. -Romans 5:5
It is in silence where we can listen to our breathing and realize how precious the breath of life is.
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. -Job 33:4
It is in silence where we can give the purest of worship, for God sees the heart more than he listens to our words.
…And this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD… -Psalm 19:14
There will be silence before You, and praise in Zion, O God… -Psalm 65:1 (NASB)
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord… -Ephesians 5:19
Silence prepares our hearts to listen to God’s voice.
“Be still, and know that I am God…” -Psalm 46:10
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him… -Psalm 37:7
The world is too noisy. It’s intent is to confuse, bewilder and weaken us.
The quieting of our hearts before God invites inner strength.
May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. -2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT)
Amazing grace. A simple phrase, yet, in the midst of worship, bursts out into an indescribable experience of the majesty of God consuming a small, insignificant mortal such as I. I can only weep in overwhelming joy!