Matins Devotion: July 20, 2023
When Eli hears the first words God gave to Samuel, his response just may be the saddest thing spoken in all the Bible. After learning that God has told Samuel He will indeed bring about the destruction of Eli’s sons and his line, the priest simply responds by saying “it is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” In other words, “yes, that matches what I heard before, so yes, I suppose that really was the Lord who spoke those things to you. I suppose God really has set His heart on pouring out the condemnation He’s going to pour out, so I suppose there’s nothing left for me to say. It is what it is.”
It’s a tragic thing. Eli has spent all these years as a priest and yet doesn’t seem to understand the very concept of priestly intercession. He’s spent years asking God to pour out mercy on His people yet doesn’t think the mercy of God is something he can possess. Eli should be begging and pleading, asking for relief. He should be like Abraham bartering for Sodom or even Cain pleading for God to spare him from the death sentence that exile will place upon him. He could cry out, “Lord, even if you won’t spare them from death, spare them from condemnation. Bring my sons to repentance.” But Eli just gives up. Resigns himself to the condemnation he’s earned. This is the bed he’s made. Now he’ll go lie in it. This is what despair does to our hearts. The Lord crushes not to crush. He crushes so He can heal. He kills so He can make alive. But despair only sees the first part of that joint action.
Don’t be like Eli lost in his despair. You’re still breathing. The final trumpet hasn’t sounded, which means it’s not too late for you. It’s not too late for your children. It’s not too late for you to turn from your sins and implore God to turn from His wrath from you and your offspring. It’s not too late for you to grab the nail-pierced hands of Jesus as you beg Him to be the great high priest that He is and intercede for you. Not too late for you to implore Him to crush your heart of sin and give you a new heart of flesh, just as it’s not too late to implore Him to give that heart of flesh to your flesh and blood.
It may well be that God has determined to discipline you with earthly suffering and hardships and chastisements. But it is and always will be the will of the Lord to forgive you, save you, redeem you, restore you. It’s always been His will to dry your tears in the life to come. Don’t be afraid to ask Him to dry them now.