There is a Filipino folk saying that states, “Kung anong puno ay siyang bunga.” (By the tree you shall know its fruits.) This shows how people view the importance of the head of the family in shaping the character of his children. But do good men automatically have godly sons? Let us study the cases of two good men in the Bible whose sons turned out to be wicked and learn from their experiences.

Notes on the Text: (1) Eli (v12) was the High Priest and Judge at that time. His sons (v. 12) Hopni and Phinehas were priests of the Lord (1 Samuel 1:3). (2) For how sacrifices should be treated; see Leviticus 7:29-34. The Lord’s portion consisted of the “breast” and “thigh”. All the rest of the flesh became the portion of the offerer.

The custom (v. 13) was plainly a bad one; the following verses indicates that Hopni and Phinehas took from the offerer what belonged to the offerer’s own sacrificial feast; and they insulted God by demanding their portion before His was burnt on the altar.


1 Samuel 2:12 Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD. 13 Now it was the practice of the priests with the people that whenever anyone offered a sacrifice and while the meat was being boiled, the servant of the priest would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 14 He would plunge it into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot, and the priest would take for himself whatever the fork brought up. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh.15 But even before the fat was burned, the servant of the priest would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.” 16 If the man said to him, “Let the fat be burned up first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would then answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.” 17 This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they were treating the LORD’s offering with contempt.

1 Samuel 2:22 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the LORD’s people. 25 If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death. 26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men. 27 Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Did I not clearly reveal myself to your father’s house when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? 28 I chose your father out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your father’s house all the offerings made with fire by the Israelites. 29 Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’ 30 “Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and your father’s house would minister before me forever.’ But now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. 31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your family line 32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, in your family line there will never be an old man. 33 Every one of you that I do not cut off from my altar will be spared only to blind your eyes with tears and to grieve your heart, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life. 34 “‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you– they will both die on the same day. 35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always. 36 Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a crust of bread and plead, “Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat.”’“ (NIV)

1 Samuel 8:1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. (NIV)


A. Eli’s Wicked Sons (2:12-17, 22)

  1. Describe how wicked Eli’s son’s were. In what ways were their actions wrong?
  2. Today, upright men who are well respected sometimes have wicked sons too. Cite examples.

B. Eli’s “Rebuke” (2:22-26)

  1. What was the tone of Eli’s rebuke?
  2.  What else could he have done which was not done?
  3. Let us speculate for a while. What do you think are the possible reasons that Eli’s sons turned out to be wicked?
  4. In what ways are we sometimes like the above? Share examples.

C. Prophecy Against The House of Eli (2:27-34)

  1. In what ways did Eli disappoint the Lord? (vv. 28, 29)
  2. The wicked actions were committed by Eli’s sons. Why was Eli held responsible? (v. 29)
  3. What were the consequences? (vv. 31-34)

D. Samuel The Faithful Priest (2:35-36)

NOTE: This section refers to Samuel, who will take over as the priest. For background on Samuel, read 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 3. Samuel later functioned as both priest and judge for Israel.

  1. In what ways will Samuel be different from Eli’s sons? (v. 35)

E.  Samuel’s Sons (8:1-3)

  1.  Although Samuel himself was faithful and upright, how were his sons? (v. 3)
  2.  Samuel had seen Eli’s example – how his sons turned wicked and the consequences they bore. What are the possible reasons why Samuel did not benefit from Eli’s example?
  3.  Is it always the parent’s fault whenever their children go astray? Explain your answer.
  4. What usually is our goal when we rear children? What should be the goal?
  5. In summary, how can we instill reverence and love for God in our children?

Reflection: What kind of parent have I been? What should I do from here on?


Being a good man does not guarantee us God-fearing children. It is our responsibility to raise up a family that is pleasing to God. We cannot rationalize that we have given all our time to the ministry. God holds us accountable for the way we raise up our children.


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