“God Will Honor Those Who Honor Him”
Lesson 21 – 1 Samuel 2-3; 8
Today’s scriptures will help us understand the blessings of honoring and pleasing the Lord above ourselves, others, or the world.
The sons of Eli honored themselves above the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25)
Hophni and Phinehas were sons of Eli, the high priest, and although they were priests themselves, they were wicked. When Israelites came to offer sacrifices at the tabernacle, Hophni and Phinehas forcibly took the flesh of the sacrificial animals before the fat portions had been burned on the altar. They also took some of the flesh that the offerer was boiling for the sacrificial meal (1 Samuel 2:12-17). These were serious transgressions of God’s laws, equivalent to robbing God. (1 Samuel 2:22) Eli’s sons also committed the extremely serious sin of seducing women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle.
1 Samuel 2:17, 24 tells us the effect the actions of Eli’s sons had on other people in Israel.
The actions of Eli’s sons suggest that they chose to honor themselves rather than God.
In some areas of our lives we sometimes honor and please ourselves rather than the Lord as we fail to choose righteously in entertainment, Sabbath observance, morality, fasting, and Church callings. Each time we choose to honor ourselves rather than God, there is a consequence.
Eli honored his sons above the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:27-36; 1 Samuel 3:12-14)
1 Samuel 2:22-25 – The aged Eli bore a priesthood and patriarchal responsibility when he learned of the wickedness of his sons. He verbally chastised them for their wickedness, but his sons ignored him.
1 Samuel 2:27-29 - After reprimanding his sons, Eli did nothing further to correct the terrible sins in his family and at the tabernacle. As a result, a man of God came and chastised him, telling him that he had honored his sons more than God.
1 Samuel 2:30-36 - The man of God said the house of Eli would be rejected and another priest raised up.
Sometimes we honor other people more than God if…
· We allow our peers to persuade us to do something we know is wrong.
· We act dishonestly because we are afraid of what other people might think of us.
· We fail to correct family members or friends in their wrongdoing to maintain good relations with them.
President Joseph F. Smith taught: “There should [not] be any of us so unwisely indulgent, so thoughtless and so shallow in our affection for our children that we dare not check them in a wayward course, in wrong-doing and in their foolish love for the things of the world more than for the things of righteousness, for fear of offending them” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 286).
As parents, we must fulfill our responsibility toward wayward children in a spirit of love—but we must not be indulgent toward them in their sins. Of course, it is the responsibility of children to listen to counsel and be obedient as their parents strive to lead them in righteousness.
Samuel honored the Lord. (1 Samuel 3)
The boy Samuel was serving in the temple after his mother, Hannah, had given him to the Lord’s service, as she had promised.
1 Samuel 3:4 – The Lord called to Samuel in the night.
1 Samuel 3:5-6, 8 – The child Samuel first thought that it was Eli who was calling him.
1 Samuel 3:8-9 – Finally, Eli realized that it was the Lord calling Samuel.
The Lord communicates with us most often through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. To prepare ourselves to receive and understand communications from the Lord, we too must be willing to listen for that still small voice with a willing, obedient attitude. By being willing to listen and obey, Samuel chose to honor the Lord rather than himself.
1 Samuel 2:35 – The Lord promised to raise up a faithful priest who would do the Lord’s will.
1 Samuel 3:4, 10 – When the Lord called Samuel, he answered, “Here am I” and “Speak; for thy servant heareth”.
1 Samuel 2:30 - The Lord promised to honor those who honored him
1 Samuel 3:19 - The Lord honored Samuel as a prophet and all Israel knew that he spoke for the Lord.
The Lord will honor us if we honor him as Samuel did and will give us opportunities to serve him—and as we serve righteously, He will make his support obvious to those around us.
The Israelites honored the world. (1 Samuel 8)
1 Samuel 8:1 - During Samuel’s ministry, the Israelites were governed by judges.
1 Samuel 12:12 - Israel was supposed to regard the Lord as their king.
1 Samuel 8:5, 20 - The children of Israel wanted a king so that he could lead them in battle and so that they would be like the other nations.
1 Samuel 8:7 - In asking for a king “like all the nations,” Israel rejected the Lord and his ways.
1 Samuel 8:9-18 - The Lord instructed Samuel to tell the Israelites what to expect from a king no matter how carefully they chose him.
1 Samuel 8:19-22 - The response of the Israelites to Samuel’s warnings was stubbornness and rejection. In demanding to establish a monarchy, the Israelites chose to honor the world.
Sometimes we (or our family members) show a desire to be “like all the nations” when we/they choose to follow worldly standards of behavior, speech, and appearance (tattoos, piercings, etc.)
Psalm 47:7; 89:18; 149:2 - The Lord Jesus Christ is our true kingg, just as he was king of the Israelites
The knowledge that the Lord is our king should affect our attitudes toward the ways of the world and our daily behavior.
Value of the things we choose
1 Samuel 8:11-17 - Sometimes we exchange things of great value for things of lesser value. Eli and his sons gave up their priesthood callings and the support of the Lord because of their choices. Samuel told the Israelites they would give up many blessings if they wanted a king, but sometimes we give up greater eternal blessings for things of lesser worldly value.
“Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies”
President Thomas S. Monson made the following statement to show how the Lord honors those who honor Him: “Some of you may be shy by nature or consider yourselves inadequate to respond affirmatively to a calling. Remember that this work is not yours and mine alone. It is the Lord’s work, and when we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. Remember that whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies” (Ensign, May 1996, 44).
Then President Monson told the following story: “Should we feel [an] assignment too arduous or time-consuming, let me share with you the experience of a faithful home teacher and his companion in what was then East Germany. “Brother Johann Denndorfer had been converted to the Church in Germany, and following World War II he found himself virtually a prisoner in his own land—the land of Hungary in the city of Debrecen. How he wanted to visit the temple! How he desired to receive his spiritual blessings! Request after request to journey to the temple in Switzerland had been denied, and he almost despaired. Then his home teacher visited. Brother Walter Krause went from the northeastern portion of Germany all the way to Hungary. He had said to his home teaching companion, ‘Would you like to go home teaching with me this week?’ His companion said, ‘When will we leave?’ ‘Tomorrow,’ replied Brother Krause. ‘When will we come back?’ asked the companion. ‘Oh, in about a week—if we get back then!’ And away they went to visit Brother Denndorfer. He had not had home teachers since before the war. Now, when he saw the servants of the Lord, he was overwhelmed. He did not shake hands with them; rather, he went to his bedroom and took from a secret hiding place his tithing that he had saved from the day he became a member of the Church and returned to Hungary. He presented the tithing to his home teachers and said: ‘Now I am current with the Lord. Now I feel worthy to shake the hands of servants of the Lord!’ “Brother Krause asked him about his desire to attend the temple in Switzerland. Brother Denndorfer said: ‘It’s no use. I have tried and tried. The government has even confiscated my Church books, my greatest treasure.’ “Brother Krause, a patriarch, provided Brother Denndorfer with a patriarchal blessing. At the conclusion of the blessing, he said to Brother Denndorfer, ‘Approach the government again about going to Switzerland.’ And Brother Denndorfer submitted the request once again to the authorities. This time approval came, and with joy Brother Denndorfer went to the Swiss Temple and stayed a month. He received his own endowment, his deceased wife was sealed to him, and he was able to accomplish the work for hundreds of his ancestors. He returned to his home renewed in body and in spirit” (Ensign, May 1996, 45-46).
All of us must choose each day whom we will honor—ourselves, the world, or the Lord.
These lessons are available on the Internet at http://www.neumanninstitute.org/