As we journey through the book of Samuel, never forget the words of God against Eli.
Aaron, the brother of Moses was the first High Priest. Aaron had four sons. Two of them (Nadab & Abihu) were killed by God for misbehavior. That left Eleazar and Ithamar to carry on the priesthood.
It would be expected that the High Priesthood might switch between the descendants of Ithamar and Eleazar, depending on who was available when. But in chapter three, God makes a proclamation that will narrow the field forever.
In Eli, the functions of priest and ruler in Israel are first combined and he served the Lord in that capacity for forty years. Eli, however, refused to restrain his sons – discipline them for their misbehavior – and his ministry as servant and a leader of God’s people was compromised. God said that Eli’s household would cease to serve in the priestly capacity. In Solomon’s time, the priesthood will move solely to the house of Eleazar.
This problem will be an underlying thread in this book. Eli’s refusal to discipline his children would be mirrored by David. Tragedy would strike the house of David because of it, but in the end, David would step up to the plate and take his children in hand, putting his foot down and executing discipline.
The story of Samuel in this chapter reminds us to be ever attentive to the word of the Lord. That word is, by far, most reliably found in scripture. If we are not listening to the word of the Lord, we will be listening to the word of the world. But there’s something else: God also guides through the influence of parents whom we are to honor. He guides through trustworthy friends whose counsel we seek. The point is, if I am the final authority for my own path in life, I will not be led in the way of the Lord.