Bible Study Guides – Eli and His Sons

July 19, 2015 – July 25, 2015

Key Text

“The sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.” I Samuel 2:12.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 575–580.


“Eli did not manage his household according to God’s rules for family government.” The Signs of the Times, April 6, 1888.


  • Which were the future and important offices held by the child born to Elkanah and Hannah? I Samuel 1:20; 3:20; 7:15–17.
  • In order to fulfill her solemn oath to God, what did Hannah do when the boy was weaned? I Samuel 1:24. What did she say to Eli the high priest? I Samuel 1:26–28.

Note: “Hannah’s prayer was granted; she received the gift for which she had so earnestly entreated. As she looked upon the child, she called him Samuel—‘asked of God.’ As soon as the little one was old enough to be separated from his mother, she fulfilled her vow. She loved her child with all the devotion of a mother’s heart; day by day, as she watched his expanding powers and listened to his childish prattle, her affections entwined about him more closely. He was her only son, the special gift of Heaven; but she had received him as a treasure consecrated to God, and she would not withhold from the Giver His own. …

“Eli was deeply impressed by the faith and devotion of this woman of Israel. Himself an overindulgent father, he was awed and humbled as he beheld this mother’s great sacrifice in parting with her only child, that she might devote him to the service of God. He felt reproved for his own selfish love, and in humiliation and reverence he bowed before the Lord and worshiped.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 570, 571.


  • What does the Bible say about the child Samuel? I Samuel 2:26.

Note: “God gives all an opportunity in this life to develop character. All may fill their appointed place in His great plan. The Lord accepted Samuel from his very childhood, because his heart was pure, and he had reverence for God. He was given to God, a consecrated offering, and the Lord made him, even in his childhood, a channel of light. A life consecrated as was Samuel’s is of great value in God’s sight. If the youth of today will consecrate themselves as did Samuel, the Lord will accept them and use them in His work.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1010.

  • How did Eli’s educational influence benefit Samuel? What lesson should the youth of our time learn from the example of Samuel?

Note: “Samuel had been placed under the care of Eli, and the loveliness of his character drew forth the warm affection of the aged priest. He was kind, generous, obedient, and respectful. Eli, pained by the waywardness of his own sons, found rest and comfort and blessing in the presence of his charge. Samuel was helpful and affectionate, and no father ever loved his child more tenderly than did Eli this youth. It was a singular thing that between the chief magistrate of the nation and the simple child so warm an affection should exist. As the infirmities of age came upon Eli, and he was filled with anxiety and remorse by the profligate course of his own sons, he turned to Samuel for comfort.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 573.

  • While Eli the high priest was grieving over the behavior of his sons, what warning did the Lord send to him through a prophet, and by what sign would it be confirmed? I Samuel 2:27–30, 34.

Note: “He [Eli] incurred the Lord’s displeasure by not reproving sin and executing justice upon the sinner. He could not be depended upon to keep Israel pure.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 578.


  • Describe the failure of Eli, the high priest and supreme judge of the nation, in the education of his sons. I Samuel 2:12, 17, 22.

Note: “The priest and judge of Israel had not been left in darkness as to the duty of restraining and governing the children that God had given to his care. …

“But Eli allowed his children to control him. The father became subject to the children. The curse of transgression was apparent in the corruption and evil that marked the course of his sons.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 575.

  • What effect did the mild admonitions of the high priest have upon his wicked sons? I Samuel 2:23–25.

Note: “Though wholly unfit for the office, they [Eli’s sons] were placed as priests in the sanctuary to minister before God. …

“These unfaithful priests also transgressed God’s law and dishonored their sacred office by their vile and degrading practices; yet they continued to pollute by their presence the tabernacle of God. Many of the people, filled with indignation at the corrupt course of Hophni and Phinehas, ceased to come up to the appointed place of worship. Thus the service which God had ordained was despised and neglected because associated with the sins of wicked men, while those whose hearts were inclined to evil were emboldened in sin. Ungodliness, profligacy, and even idolatry prevailed to a fearful extent.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 576, 577.

  • What effect would the apostasy in Israel have had on the surrounding nations? How will our inconsistent profession affect neighbors?

Note: “The people of surrounding nations also, who were not ignorant of the iniquities openly practiced in Israel, became still bolder in their idolatry and crime. They felt no sense of guilt for their sins, as they would have felt had the Israelites preserved their integrity.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 582, 583.


  • As God could not communicate with Eli or with his sons, whom did He call to convey a last message of reproof to the house of the high priest? I Samuel 3:2–4.
  • Supposing that the high priest was calling him, what did Samuel do? I Samuel 3:5, 6. When the Lord called Samuel the third time, what did Eli tell the boy to do? I Samuel 3:8, 9.

Note: “Eli was convinced that the mysterious call was the voice of God. The Lord had passed by His chosen servant, the man of hoary hairs, to commune with a child. This in itself was a bitter yet deserved rebuke to Eli and his house.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 581.

  • What did the Lord commission Samuel to say to the old high priest? I Samuel 3:11–14. What did Eli say to Samuel to coax him out of his silence, and what was Eli’s answer? I Samuel 3:18.

Note: “In Eli’s reproof to his sons are words of solemn and fearful import—words that all who minister in sacred things would do well to ponder: ‘If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him’ (I Samuel 2:25)?” Patriarchs and Prophets, 580.

“Yet Eli did not manifest the fruits of true repentance. He confessed his guilt, but failed to renounce the sin. Year after year the Lord delayed His threatened judgments. Much might have been done in those years to redeem the failures of the past, but the aged priest took no effective measures to correct the evils that were polluting the sanctuary of the Lord and leading thousands in Israel to ruin. The forbearance of God caused Hophni and Phinehas to harden their hearts and to become still bolder in transgression. The messages of warning and reproof to his house were made known by Eli to the whole nation. By this means he hoped to counteract, in some measure, the evil influence of his past neglect. But the warnings were disregarded by the people, as they had been by the priests.” Ibid., 582.


  • How were the wicked priests, Hophni and Phinehas, punished? By what disastrous event did God call the whole nation to repentance? I Samuel 4:2, 14–18.

Note: “The [Israelite] nation was ripe for the judgments of God, yet they [the elders] did not see that their own sins had been the cause of this terrible disaster.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 583.

  • How careful should the church be in approving men for the ministry? I Timothy 3:5–7.

Note: “The church must show their zeal for God in dealing with those who have, while professing great faith, been putting Christ to open shame. They have imperiled the truth. They have been unfaithful sentinels. They have brought reproach and dishonor upon the cause of God. The time has come for earnest and powerful efforts to rid the church of the slime and filth which is tarnishing her purity.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 450.

“The standard of morality is not exalted high enough among God’s people. … Those who stand as ministers in the sacred desk should be men of blameless reputation. …

“There is a strange abandonment of principle, a lowering of the standard of morality. …

“If those who profess to be the depositaries of God’s law become transgressors of that law, His protecting care will be withdrawn.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 597–601.


1 What lesson should the youth of our time learn from the example of Samuel?

2 What was the failure of Eli in the education of his sons?

3 How will our inconsistent profession affect neighbors?

4 What disastrous event did God use to call the whole nation to repentance?

5 How careful should the church be in approving men for the ministry?

© 2014 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.