Sons of Belial

1 Samuel 2:12-17

• So what’s going on here?

The Bible calls Eli’s sons, “sons of Belial”. Eli’s sons were utterly wicked & given over to a reprobate mind!
And even though they held the priestly office, they were stealing from the sacrifices and threatening God’s people w/ violence.
& this caused the people of God to abhor the offering of the LORD.


The priests were supposed to have a portion of the offering prescribed by the Law of Moses, but the sons of Eli were abusing this God-ordained provision.

• Deuteronomy 18:3: “And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.”
• This was how God provided for priests & their families. It was their portion and their inheritance, because the Levites did not get a portion of the land when Joshua and the children of Israel settled in the Promise Land.

• So the tribe of Levi was separated exclusively unto the service of the LORD, as priests.

• Joshua 13:3: “But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.”

The priests did no menial labor and were taken care of by the people. This is reiterated in the NT.

1 Corinthians 9:14: “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”

Now I don’t want to preach a whole sermon on tithing, but you hear a lot of criticism today about churches and ministers receiving payment for their work.

But the Bible is very clear. You can’t dispute 1 Corinthians 9:14.

That’s a clear & plain statement from the Bible, and those who oppose tithing are doing it out of spite & have a personal axe to grind and are preaching contrary to God’s Word!

1 Timothy 5:18 also says: “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”

But the sons of Eli, much like many churches & pastors today, were abusing the sacrifice and the offerings. I’m not denying that that happens today! And so men were abhorring the offering of the Lord.

• Just go to Rick Warren’s website. Nearly every image on his website is geared towards giving your money to his church.

• Look at Joel Osteen. He lives in a 17,000 squarefoot home worth $10.5 million.

• Look at Kenneth Copeland, he and his wife combined take in over half a million every year & owns a private jet!

And they all justify it by supposedly giving back a large portion of their wages which they got from the church back to the church!

But when you’re taking in $10 million and giving back 90% of it, you’re still keeping a million for yourself.

And they always do this only after receiving much criticism for their unholy wages.

I searched & searched for the plan of salvation on Rick Warren’s website and I can’t find it;

I’m sure it’s buried deep in there somewhere, but you can’t miss the big banner on the front page of his website asking you to make “Your Daring Faith Commitment”.

Which takes you to a page w/ huge bold letters to make a 3-year financial recurring monthly payment with your credit card.

Bad ministers today are causing God’s people to abhor the sacrifice of the LORD, just like Hophni & Phinehas.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t care for – as a church – for the real ministers who are serving the LORD & sacrificing their time and their lives to minister to your souls!

Think about Acts 6, where the apostles determined to give themselves over “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word”.

But because the tithes & offerings have been so abused by some churches, there’s an unbiblical movement today that seeks to remove the tithes & offerings from the congregations altogether. And that’s a disservice to the church!

But the primary lesson that pastors normally draw from this section of the Bible – of Eli & his sons – is the importance of being a good father and disciplining your children.

And that’s true. But it’s only secondary to the real meaning of Eli & his sons.

And that’s the #1 issue that’s usually preached in most churches: that Eli failed to discipline his sons which led to their wickedness and ultimate demise.

And that’s a good moral to draw out of this.

But the story of Eli & his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, goes much deeper than that.
It’s true that Eli was a weak father who failed to discipline his own children.

The Bible does say:
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him (Proverbs 22:15).

And many fathers today fear their children instead of fearing God.

And it’s ironic that in chapter 1 of 1st Samuel, Eli accused Hannah, Samuel’s mother, of being drunk when she was pleading to God for a son …

Hannah had to defend herself by explaining to Eli that she was not a child of Belial, yet we find out in the very next chapter that Eli was himself raising two sons of Belial!

1 Samuel 1:13-16
13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.
14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.
15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I [am] a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.
16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.

This whole episode – from his false judgment of Hannah to his own wicked sons – was a failure of great magnitude on the part of Eli, but it speaks much more profoundly than merely his failure as a father.

You have to understand that Eli was the High Priest of Israel, in charge of the spiritual condition of the entire nation.

It’s a degradation of the real meaning here to simply make it out to be about Eli’s parenting skills.

This was about Eli failing – as High Priest – to live up to & to enforce God’s Holy Laws.

Look at 2 Samuel 2:22-25:

Eli’s only response was to give his sons a verbal rebuke.
And it really wasn’t a very hard rebuke.
It was soft, watered-down preaching.
It was non-judgmental!
Eli didn’t want to offend anyone!

The sacrifices foreshadowed Jesus’ sacrifice! God took it very seriously. They represented the death of His own Son for the salvation of mankind!

If you remember, God had struck down Aaron’s sons just a few generations before for offering strange fire before the LORD.

It wasn’t enough to verbally rebuke his sons. It wasn’t even enough to remove them from office.

According to the Law of Moses, Eli – as High Priest – should have brought them before the whole congregation and had them stoned!

Eli’s sons were supposed to die!

Deuteronomy 21:18-21:
18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and [that], when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son [is] stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; [he is] a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

It’s not that Eli was permissive as a father; Eli was permissive as High Priest, as ruler of his people.

Further, as adulterers they were supposed to be stoned!

The Bible says that Eli’s sons: “lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” 1 Samuel 2:22.

They’d turned God’s house into a whorehouse!

And so what does God do?God sends a prophet!
Look at 1 Samuel 2:27-34:

And so God pronounces that He will kill both his sons and cut off his line from the Levitical priesthood forever!

And here’s what I really see in this passage: ministers of the LORD who cause God’s sacrifices to be abhorred!

I hear – almost on a daily basis – from Christians who abhor going to church toady? Why?

Because they can’t find a good church.

Not because they are feeling convicted by hard preaching!
It’s not because the preaching is too deep or the words are too hard to understand!
Or because they’re being asked to walk an extra mile!
It’s just the opposite! The level of the sermons are far below what most people want to hear!

It’s dumbed-down and watered-down.

And if it’s not watered-down it’s bogged down … with despensationalism, or Calvinism, or Zionism or some other ism.

And most pastors aren’t sons of Belial. No, but they’re just like Eli!

There’s no discipline in the churches, there’s no hard preaching, it’s all about growing the numbers, about feeling good, about tickling itching ears, & not offending anybody.

I mean how many sermons on the Love of God can you hear! How about we preach some doctrine to the church!

When we go soulwinning, all we talk about is the Love of God … I don’t talk about any of this stuff to the lost. It’s just Romans Road: Jesus Christ Crucified. I love hearing the Gospel out there!

But when I’m in church, I expect to hear the deep things of God! I expect to hear doctrine! I expect to hear the whole Bible!

Hebrew 6:1-2
1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Paul’s saying, you’ve got the basic principles of salvation, let’s go on to deeper things. Then why are 99% of churches just preaching the Gospel to the choir?

• Pastors Conference / gathering of local churches from nearby towns … and everybody there was a believer … and at least half were pastors.
• But they still preached a one-hour sermon on how to be saved. And then they gave an altar call!
• And I wanted to scream out: “We’re all saved!”

And so the vast majority of churches are producing castrated, non-judgmental Christians who have no clue when it comes to doctrine, who only know the basics of the Gospel, who mimic the world’s teachings, & who hinder the work of the Gospel from going forward.

I mean, they get in my way when I’m trying to preach the Gospel to the lost or even to edify the already saved!
I have to fight through Christians who don’t understand doctrine in order to get the truth out!

And the fruit of these churches is that they’re producing Christians who know only 1 Bible Verse: John 3:16! – For God so loved the world …

And they don’t know that wicked, sons of Belial are reprobate!

Yes, God loved them at some point, He died for them, but they rejected His love and His offer of salvation over & over again … until they get hardened to the Gospel …

And the Bible calls them “Sons of Belial”, wicked, evil, reprobate, vain, backbiters, haters of God, thorns to be thrust away!

And there’s really 3 spiritual groups of people in this world:

1. Children of Adam: which the Bible calls “children of wrath” – this speaks of mankind. We’re all born in sin. And so none of us are the children of God by birth.

And people will say, “We’re all children of God!” No we’re not!

Ephesians 2:3 says that we are “by nature the children of wrath.”

And so we have to experience a new birth – we have to be born again.
So when you receive Jesus as your Savior, you’re adopted and grafted into the family of God and then become “children of God”.
John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name…”

Galatians 3:26: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

And third group of people are children of the devil; “children of Belial” & reprobates.
These are people who have been given over so utterly to evil, that it is too late for them! They can’t be saved!

This includes people like Hitler. Hitler could not have been saved! I don’t care how much you pray for him. He was a son of Belial!

John 8:44 Jesus said to the reprobate Pharisees: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.“

And so if you want to understand what “sons of Belial” really means, you have to do is look up every instance of Belial in the Bible. And Let the Bible define itself.
The first instance of “children of Belial” in the Bible is from Deuteronomy 13:12-15:
12 If thou shalt hear [say] in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,
13 [Certain] men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;
14 Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, [if it be] truth, [and] the thing certain, [that] such abomination is wrought among you;
15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that [is] therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.

So the Bible says that Children of Belial lead God’s people away to serve other gods.

1 Samuel 25
When David was fleeing King Saul he sought refuge from a prosperous man named NAY-BLE, the husband of Abigail.

The Bible calls Nabal “churlish” & “evil in his doings” (1 S 25:3).
Churlish means: rude or rough in temper, unfeeling (these are people who have had their consciences seared), selfish, unyielding, unmanageable, harsh, & obstinate.

In v. 17, Abigal says of Nabal: (NAY-BLE)
Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.

The Bible says you can’t even speak to sons of Belial:
you can’t reason with them! They’re beyond reasoning with words! they’re too self-absorbed. They only think of themselves. They’re completely narcissistic.

1 Samuel 30:22 calls them “wicked men” and “men of Belial”.

When David fought the Amalekites after they burned the city of Ziklag to the ground and took all the women captive, David defeated them and took back all that they had stolen …

But there were wicked & greedy men who fought alongside David but who didn’t want to share the spoils of war with their brethren who were too faint to go into battle with them.

In 2 Chronicles 13:7 – the Bible mentions “vain men” and “children of Belial” who rose up with Jereboam against King Abijah, the rightful heir of David’s throne. And these sons of Belial led 500,000 men of Israel to slaughter in battle.

1 Kings 21:10-15:
The wicked King Ahab wanted a parcel of land, a vineyard, that rightfully belonged to Naboth the Jezereelite.

Naboth refused to sell his vineyard because it was his only inheritance from his fathers.

And Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, the most wicked woman listed in all of Scripture, hires two sons of Belial to bear false witness against Naboth.

1 Kings 21:10-15
10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.
15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.

In 2 Samuel 23:6-7 the Bible calls “sons of Belial” thorns thrust away:
6 But [the sons] of Belial [shall be] all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:
7 But the man [that] shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the [same] place.

Psalm 1:1-2: Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Another instance of the “sons of Belial”, which is the most gruesome and the most telling occurs in Judges 19:22.

A certain man was sojourning in Gibeah with his concubine. And an old man gave him lodging.
22 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.
23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.
24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.
25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.
26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.
27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.
28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered …

And so they raped her all night until she died.

This is exactly like the men of Sodom when they surrounded Lot’s house and wanted to lay with the two angels who were staying w/ Lot.

Genesis 19:4
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

And what’s with these men offering their daughters to the sodomites?

I understand that Lot was outnumbered and he was desperate. But the only thing Lot should have offered the sodomites was his sword.

Unbelievers will bring up Lot offering his daughters as a way to make God’s Word look bad.

But where does it say God condoned Lot’s decision.

The Bible impartially records the good with the bad, it doesn’t discriminate, not even for God’s own people.

But thank God, the angels protected Lot & his daughters & struck the sodomites with blindness – which is also a symbolic reflection of their spiritual condition.

The Bible says in John 12:40:
“He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”

Romans 1:28: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind”.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 admonishes us:
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.


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