When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years. 1 Samuel 4:18
In the Message, we read, “Eli was an old man, and very fat.” The reason Eli was fat is found in the Lord’s words, “Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?” (1 Samuel 2:29). Eli’s sons ate far more of the sacrifice than they were entitled to since they ate the meat before the fat was burnt away (verses 13-16). Eli joined his sons in their sin.
Eli was more interested in feasting than honouring the Lord. His sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them (3:13). In Eli’s role as a priest, his weight gain must have shown his gluttony. Actions speak louder than words.
God didn’t act immediately but gave Eli and his sons time to repent but they mistook God’s patience for indulgence. God sent a prophet to warn them (2:27-36) but the punishments didn’t seem real. They expected life to continue as usual.
Likewise today many have heard God’s word but it doesn’t seem real to them. Even as Christians, we’re often more influenced by our senses—what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch as these seem more enduring than an invisible kingdom in an unspecified time frame.
Paul would exhort us to, “… fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).