“Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.” I Samuel 2.12 KJV
Every man that was wicked, immoral, cruel, profane, violent, stubborn and rebellious to the Law of God was considered a son of Belial by the Israelites. In other words, they were considered worthless, useless children, or children of destruction. In plain English, they were children of the devil himself! But, why were the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, who were also priests, described in such a way? Because of their corrupt and undisciplined character.
They grew up watching their father practice holy duties in the Tabernacle of God in Shiloh and were prepared to do the same. It was required for priests to have a life of righteousness, fear and reverence for sacred matters, since they had the task of presenting sacrifices to God on behalf of the entire nation. Hophni and Phinehas were far from meeting the qualities of a true priest.
They were profane men, who did not respect the Laws of God! They officiated their priesthood carelessly and dishonestly, since, in addition to sleeping with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle, they also stole from the sacrificial offerings offered to God, because they took more than what was allowed.
“Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.” I Samuel 2.17
Eli knew about the bad behavior of his sons, but he did not act rigorously to correct them. God was displeased and disapproved of him! This cost him the honor of having in his home, from his lineage, men who could stand before the Almighty as priests in His Temple. There is no greater honor than being chosen by the Lord Jesus for this noblest purpose, which is to win souls for His Kingdom, but also, there is nothing worse than being rejected by Him! However, He only rejects those who rejected Him first in a negligent and careless like they did in regards to the talents He offered them.
“Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.’ ” I Samuel 2.30
A true servant is disciplined! He does not question the will of his Lord. Nothing gives him more satisfaction than to please the Lord who saved him and separated him to do His Work. His life of righteousness and fear causes him to be respected by everyone. But those who are undisciplined, do not accept correction, and will be cast out, far away from the presence of the Lord.
Hophni and Phinehas were killed while carrying the Ark of the Covenant to the battlefield between Israel and the Philistines. This shows that only those who live in the discipline of the Word of God have the authority of His Holy Spirit to do His Works. What happened to Eli and his sons serves as a warning to us all – pastors, wives, assistants, bishops and all those who are willing to serve the Lord Jesus.