Learning from Losers

If you turn to the first four chapters of First Samuel, you’ll be introduced to a priest named Eli.  At first glance, Eli seems like a good enough guy, serving the Lord faithfully in the ministry and keeping his nose clean, but as the paragraphs roll on, we see that the author wants us to know something else about Eli.  He has two sons who are blasphemous, disobedient to God, and sexually promiscuous…. and it just so happens that they are priests as well.  Eli has neglected his duties as a father and as a result God speaks to Samuel and reveals that judgment is going to come on Eli’s household because of the sins of his sons.  Eli is also included in this judgment because he did not step in and judge the sins of his sons himself.  After Samuel receives this news, Eli approaches him and urges him to relay what the Lord said, so Samuel tells Eli everything.

Now, most of us look at Eli and we don’t see the integrity of Daniel, the heroics of David, or the resolve of Josiah.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot there to emulate, and if we’re honest, it’s pretty easy to imagine the word “loser” being stamped on Eli’s forehead.  But I want to point one verse in 1 Samuel 3 that displays a godly response on the part of Eli that I think we can all learn from.  Right after Samuel tells Eli the staggering news that God is going to pour out judgment on his household, Eli replies by saying, “It is the Lord.  Let him do what seems good to him” (v. 18).  He doesn’t start with the justifications and rationalizations, he doesn’t blow up out of anger, and he doesn’t melt into a puddle of self-loathing.  Instead, Eli surrenders himself to God’s authority and sovereignty without even blinking first.

My point in bringing up this small part of Eli’s story is to remind us all that we can and should learn from losers.  We should never dismiss what God could be telling us in His Word simply because the person he is using to communicate doesn’t have an exemplary character.  Actually, if we’re being real, the Bible is full of losers.  There really aren’t losers and winners in the Bible, there are just losers and then there’s Jesus.  Guys like Daniel, David, and Josiah were losers too because they too were rebels to the will of God, even if it isn’t as obvious as Eli.  The Bible is God’s story and he uses all manner of losers to communicate his truth inside that story.  And he is still telling a story today, and I believe he is using losers like you and me to unfold that story for his fame!

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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

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