Pastor James J. Barker

Text: I SAMUEL 4:11-22


  1. Eli was the high priest during the time of Samuel. In addition to being a priest, he also served Israel as a judge. He was the immediate predecessor of Samuel, who was the last of the judges.
  2. I Samuel 4:18b tells us that "he had judged Israel forty years."
  3. But most people think of something else when they remember Eli, and that is his two wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas (1:3; 2:12,22).
  4. Of their wicked behavior Eli was well aware, but contented himself with mild and ineffective scolding (2:23-25). But their sins were so deplorable and so heinous that stronger measures were called for (3:11-13).
  5. Years ago, Bro. Jameson referred to a famous pastor in Indiana who has a son who is a notorious adulterer. But like Eli, this preacher has not dealt with his wicked son in a Biblical manner.
  6. God said he was going to judge the house of Eli and He did (3:11-14; 4:11-22). And beloved, God is going to judge America. The problem with America today is not just with those who skip church. And the problem isnít just with the churches that do not preach the Gospel. What really breaks the heart of God is that we have thousands of fundamental Baptist churches that say they believe the Bible but they are too tolerant of sin.
  7. So this is my subject today. I want to speak about the death of Eli.



    1. Notice that Eli "fell from off the seat backward" (4:18). All over the world people are falling over backwards and we are told that this strange behavior is a "blessing from God." Donít you believe it. It is the judgment of God.
    2. This strange fad became very popular with Kathryn Kuhlman. She called this being "slain in the spirit." First of all, Mrs. Kuhlman had no business preaching (cf. I Tim.2:11,12; I Cor.14:33-35).
    3. Second of all, she was a very immoral and dishonest woman Ė she was nothing but a fake and a charlatan. But her brand of charismatic foolishness became very popular and today it is spreading all over the world.
    4. Bro. Randy told me that Benny Hinn went to Trinidad. How sad to see these charlatans spread their false gospel all over the world! Mr. Hinn waves at people and they fall over backwards. Beloved, this is the judgment of God (I Sam.4:18; cf. Gen.49:17).
    5. If this phenomena was of God, people would not fall over backwards; but they would fall on their faces in humility before our holy God. According to the Bible, this is a sign of submission to God (I Kings 18:38,39; Matt.17:5,6; Luke 17:15,16; I Cor.14:25).
    6. The Bible has much to say about false prophets. One of the marks of a false prophet is that they "fall backward" (Isa.28:13; cf. 29:4).
    7. Furthermore, oftentimes when people fall backward in the Bible they are possessed by demons.



    1. Wise parents start disciplining their children when they are very young. Do not wait till they are teenagers because then it will probably be too late (cf. Pro.13:24; 19:18). Eli was a slacker.
    2. Eliís two sons were wicked rascals, religious racketeers (I Sam. 2:12-17). The great Bible teacher, Merrill Unger, says they were "unbelieving religionists, spiritually dead, morally corrupt, and examples of an unregenerate, worldly, rapacious clergy of all ages."
    3. The Bible says they were "sons of Belial (the devil)" (2:12). "They knew not the LORD" (not saved). Parents, you need to make sure your children know the LORD. Are you sure they are saved?
    4. Many parents assume their kids are saved because they prayed a little prayer when they were 5 or 6. Then they turn 20 or 21 and show no evidence of salvation.
    5. Their sins were numerous: greed (2:14,15,16), treating the law of Moses and the LORDíS offering with contempt (2:17), and putting a stumbling block in front of others (2:17b,23,24).
    6. "For men abhorred (despised, scorned) the offering of the LORD" (2:17). Their scandalous behaviour turned people away from God.
    7. Beloved, we ought to hate sin. We ought to hate the smell of sin. We ought to hate even the word "sin." But many Christians today are too comfortable with sin in their lives.
    8. And too many churches are tolerating sin and ignoring sin and covering up sin. Beloved, if we cannot have a holy church, we may as well close it down because God will not be in it.
    9. Some Christians get soft on sin when they get older. They get tired of taking a strong stand against sin. The Bible says, "Now Eli was very oldÖ" (2:22). He was too old and tired to do right.
    10. Eli was weak and indulgent. He shut his eyes to the sins of his two sons. I know parents who seemed to be strict when their kids were little but once they became teenagers they let them do whatever they wanted. Just like Eli.
    11. All Eli did was give them a feeble rebuke (2:23,24). A lot of parents are like that. And a lot of churches are like that Ė filled with adulterers and fornicators, and nobody seems to care.
    12. All sin is "against the LORD" (2:25). Joseph said, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen.39:9).
    13. David said to the LORD, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight" (Ps.51:4).
    14. God gave Eli a strong warning. And beloved, God has given us many strong warnings as well (I Sam.2:27-36).
    15. The Lordís rebuke of Eli was as hard as Eliís rebuke of his sons had been soft. Beloved, mark it down. If you and I are soft on sin, God will be hard on us.
    16. Some parents even put their children ahead of God. God judged Eli for doing that (2:29).
    17. Eli would not discipline his sons so God killed them just like He said He would (3:11-14; 4:11).



    1. This happened over 3,000 years ago but it could have happened yesterday because God does not change and the sinfulness of man does not change.
    2. Back in Joshua 18:1 we read that the children of Israel set up the tabernacle in Shiloh. But in the hands of Eliís wicked sons, the service of the tabernacle had become a public abhorrence (I Sam. 2:17,22-24).
    3. Like priest, like people. Israel was backslidden and so God allowed the Philistines to smite them badly (4:1,2).
    4. Some of the people had enough sense to realize that it was God who had smitten them (4:3a). But they did not have enough spiritual discernment to understand why the LORD had forsaken them.
    5. They mistook the symbol of Godís presence for the presence of God Himself (4:3b). And there are many lost religionists just like that around today. They cling to their rituals and their forms and ceremonies but they do not understand a thing about the grace of God.
    6. There are churches which teach that baptism washes away sin. They are confused over the true meaning of baptism.
    7. There are some churches which teach that if you speak in tongues you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is confusion.
    8. These Israelites too were very confused. And they thought that if they could just get the ark of the covenant, "it may save" them (4:3-5). There was no repentance on their part, no self-judgment, no seeking after God, and no confession of sin.
    9. How many are like that today! Just go to church and say a prayer and everything will be fine! Get baptized, have someone lay hands on you, speak in tongues, etc. But they are still living like devils!
    10. We should not be surprised at the ignorance and superstition of the heathen Philistines (4:7,8), but the Israelites were not much better. They thought of the ark, not as the emblem of Godís presence, but as a good-luck charm to rescue them from their enemies.
    11. But alas, the ark of the covenant could not help them (4:6-11). Just like praying will not help you if you are not right with God. And getting baptized will not help you if you are not right with God. And coming to church and acting religious will not help you if you are not right with God.
    12. Again "Israel was smitten" (4:10), "and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel 30,000 footmen" (4:10).
    13. This is a very sad story (4:11-20). And it has a very sad ending (4:21,22).
    14. Many churches should be honest and hang up a sign saying, "Ichabod, The glory is departed"


  1. Most people think that the Philistines destroyed Shiloh and in to a certain extant that is true. However, The Lord said to Samuel, "Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth shall tingle" (I Sam.3:11; cf. Jer.7:12; 26:6).
  2. God always judges sin. Eliís sons had become so hardened in their sins that there was nothing left for God to do.
  3. Perhaps there is one here today that has become hardened to the things of God. You may not be as wicked as Eliís sons but you may have some things in common.
  4. For example, these men were religious, they attended church, but they were not saved.
  5. Secondly, they were warned. And anyone who has ever stepped foot in this tent has been warned of the danger of rejecting the Gospel.
  6. Thirdly, Eliís sons hardened their hearts. Be careful with this because the hardening of the heart is so gradual the sinner never realizes it till it is too late.

| Customized by Jun Gapuz |