1 Samuel 3:10-14
A passage like this is enough to scare most of us into keeping a safe distance from God. We might not be too inclined to tell God we’re finally listening if God’s response is so seemingly terrible. What do we do with something so difficult?
Remember the context of these verses. Chapter 2 tells us about the injustices being perpetrated by Eli’s two sons. They are tasked with the sacred responsibility of caring for the people of God, which includes many of the vulnerable and destitute of their day. Instead of helping to empower these needy ones before God, they abuse their power to steal the best portions of the people’s offerings. This injustice is a sin against both the individuals and the Lord. Eli, as the head priest, is warned by a messenger of God, and in the end, Eli is unable or unwilling to assert his authority on behalf of justice for those who are being oppressed by his children.
We can be quick to see the humanity or pain of those in our immediate line of sight. To us, Eli may seem more like someone who is frail than like someone who is a failure. But from God’s perspective, he has the privilege of power, yet he chooses to ignore his responsibilities to the most vulnerable and oppressed. We may be inclined to feel sympathy for leaders who are criticized for mistakes. We may recognize their humanity as they appear on our screens more easily than we recognize the human beings who are harmed by those mistakes or bad policies or the way responsibilities are being ignored in a crisis. We need to remember the dignity and humanity of those we don’t see or hear about. Like Samuel discovered, God calls us to be a voice for justice, even when it is difficult.
What difficult thing is God asking you to do?
God, give me the compassion to see the faces of those being harmed, even when they aren’t being mentioned. Show me how to act on their behalf. Amen.