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Today I read 1 Samuel 1-3 and was struck with the number of people who were faced with decisions that deeply impacted their lives. Hannah faced the difficult decision of leaving Samuel at the Lord’s house when he was very young. She had begged God for a child and finally made a vow that she would dedicate her child to God’s service if God saw fit to give her a son. She had a few short years with him before he was weaned and delivered to Eli’s care to serve before the God of Israel. She would have the dignity of knowing her son was significant but would onlybe able to visit him during her infrequent trips to Shiloh. It was easy to offer her son before she was pregnant and in emotional pain. It was quite a different thing to offer him when he was just a little boy.
Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons, were faced with decisions everyday to follow the instructions God had given Priests. They were in a privileged position of representing the people before God and communicating back to the people the things of God. The position had perks and power so they had plenty of opportunity to either abuse the system or work within the system to fulfill their responsibilities. They got full of themselves and believed they could write the rules for their own pleasure.
Eli was aware of the misdeeds of his sons. He had the choice of confronting them with a challenge to change with consequences or simply discussing with them the foolishness of their choices. He chose simply to talk with them and point out the obvious. His words were true but they lacked any type of action plan. He could have said, “If you guys don’t change, I will be forced to remove you from your positions. “Instead, he simply said, “You shouldn’t be doing this. Please stop.”
In all three of these situations, the correct course of action was clear. God had given enough information and had provided enough time for each individual to process the facts. Each of these individuals faced critical moments of choice. Circumstances presented themselves that caused them to ask themselves, “Do believe what I say I believe enough to act upon it?” In each case, their decision had a profound impact on their lives. Hannah produced one the greatest prophets in history and was rewarded with five more children. Hophni and Phineas lost their lives while Eli lost his sons and his place of influence.
Sometime soon, we will all be faced with decisions. They may not be as intense as those illustrated here but they will impact our lives. God will be gracious by giving us the information we need for the choice we must make. He will also orchestrate events so that a critical moment is created at just the right time. All that is left is our choice. May we all choose well!