Paternal Leniency
1 Samuel 2:23-24
And he said to them, Why do you such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.…


1. He saith over softly to them, "Why do ye such things?" (v. 23). This was to reprove them, saith , with the lenity of a father, not with the authority of a magistrate: 'Tis an old saying, "Pity spoils a city"; sure I am it did so here, for it spoiled his family, causing the priesthood to be removed from it.

2. "I hear of your evil doings." This was too gentle, to mention them in the general only, and not to particularise them with their detestable aggravations, he should have rebuked them, cuttingly, or sharply (Titus 2:15) with all authority.

3. "By all the people:" As if it were their report only, and that he was put on by the people to say what he said.

4. "Nay, my sons." He should have set on his reproof, by saying "Ye act more like sons of Belial than my sons, the sons of the high priests of the Most High God."

5. "'Tis no good report:" He should have called it, the most dismal and diabolical, if he had had a right zeal for God's glory, etc.

6. He was not willing to reprove them, but the clamours of others forced him to do it.

7. He did not rebuke them publicly (1 Timothy 5:20) for the public sins to make the plaster as broad as the wound.

8. It was only a verbal reproof, whereas he should have put them out of their priesthood and punished them for their adultery according to the law, without respect of persons as a judge, etc.

9. He did not rebuke them in time, but let them live long in sin. 10. He soon ceased chiding them, so 'tis said, "He restrained them not," (ch. 3:18.)

II. APOLOGY FOR ELI IN THIS CASE IS — That he now was very old, some suppose him to be now come to his ninetieth year, even in his dotage, so could not himself converse with his sons, so as to observe their maladministrations, and withal, he was dim-sighted, so could not so well see their sinful practices: his superannuation caused his frequent absence from the Tabernacle, which gave a greater opportunity for his sons' wickedness, to whom the management of God's worship was (in their father's retirement) be trusted, and 'tis not improbable, his sons did not much regard his reproofs, because he was old and over-worn, but themselves, being in their vigour, had married wives, and were fathers of children. And 'tis commonly known that old ago doth incline men to mercy, so that it is no wonder if Eli seem rather to flatter than to chastise his sons.

III. JUDGEMENT PRONOUNCED ON ELI. The promise for the perpetuation of the priesthood to Aaron's family (Exodus 28:43, and Exodus 29:9) was conditional only so long as they did honour God therein, which condition the elder line of Aaron kept not in the case of Jephtah's vow, therefore was the high priesthood transferred to the younger line, which now upon the like failure in the condition, made a new forfeiture thereof, by dishonouring God so notoriously in Eli's sons.

1. This may be called breach of promise, as that is (Numbers 14:84) when the old generation were wasted in the wilderness, and yet the new one was brought into Canaan as God had promised.

2. This Man of God threatens the extirpation of Eli's family (vers. 31, 32). His arm shall be cut off.

3. This Man of God threatens him with a rival in the place of the priesthood, which he or his posterity should behold with their eyes, to their great grief and regret (verses 32, 33).

4. This Man of God threatens him with the violent, death of his sons before their father's death (verses 34, 35).

5. He threatens him with the poverty of his posterity (verse 36). They shall come crouching as Abiathar did (1 Kings 2:26) when banished to Anathoth.

(C. Ness.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.

WEB: He said to them, "Why do you do such things? for I hear of your evil dealings from all this people.

Necessity of Parental Severity
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