Eli served as the second-to-last high priest of Israel. He was faithful and did what was right, but his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were scoundrels who had no regard for the Lord. Even though they worked in the tabernacle with their father, they did not do so because they wanted to serve God. They only wanted to serve themselves. When people came to offer sacrifices to God, Hophni and Phinehas took the sacrifices for themselves. When women came to serve and worship God at the tabernacle, Hophni and Phinehas took them as objects on which to satisfy their sexual desires.
1 Samuel 2:22 says, “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.”
Eli’s sons had absolutely no respect for God or for those who sought to follow Him. Because of this, God caused both of them to die on the same day. In their place, He raised up Samuel – the last priest of Israel who remained faithful to God all of his days. Under Samuel’s leadership, women could go to the tabernacle and not fear being sexually harassed or being forced to perform sexual favors.
1. The women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting were exploited. One of the definitions of the word exploit is to “use (a situation or person) in an unfair or selfish way.” Instead of the tabernacle being a place of Heavenly warmth, serenity, and comfort for these women, they found it to be a place of abuse and pain because of the immoral actions of Hophni and Phinehas. They went to the tabernacle to serve, but ended up being forced to have sex. They expected the priests to bring them closer to God and righteousness, but ended up being led down a path of sin.
Eli’s sons exploited both their situation (being priests in the tabernacle) and people (the women who served) in an unfair way. Instead of treating them as valued sisters of God, Hophni and Phinehas disrespected and violated these women. Their behavior, and all other behavior like it, is unfair and inexcusable – whether it is done in a church, a school, or a workplace.
Eli’s sons also used the women who served in a selfish way because they were only concerned with satisfying their own immoral lusts. Hophni and Phinehas abused their positions of spiritual power, showing they had zero concern for pleasing God. They had zero concern for making sure that God’s work was done and His will was accomplished. They had zero concern for the minds, bodies, and souls of those who came to the tabernacle to worship God. They only had concern for themselves.
Many of the women were probably deceived into getting sexually involved with Hophni and Phinehas. When they discovered their true intentions, no doubt some of them protested, fought against this terrible transgression, but they were forever scarred by the sins of Eli’s sons – a sin that was not only committed against them, but also against God. We can only hope that these women did not allow Hophni and Phinehas’ immoral behavior to drive them away from the tabernacle and from God. We can only hope that they found healing and strength in the Son of Man, Who has the utmost love and respect for women.
Far too many people have been driven from God by “church hurt” and hurtful “church people.” Far too many have experienced financial, spiritual, and sexual exploitation by so-called “men of God.” If you are one of those people, please do not blame God for the immorality of humans, do not consider the sin of mankind greater than the salvation of Christ, and do not allow the hate and unfairness and selfishness of a few to push you away from the One who loves you most.
Does not God Himself say, “My ways are not like man’s ways and My thoughts are not like man’s thoughts?” Do not equate a fallen creation with its infallible Creator. There is no comparison.
God does not hurt, He heals. He does not exploit, He protects. He does not violate, He values.
When you enter into a church to worship Him, your Heavenly Father wants you to feel His love and respect and He wants you to be loved and respected by those in positions of spiritual power.