God Will Honor Those Who Honor Him
The sons of Eli honor themselves above the Lord.
Eli honors his sons above the Lord.
Samuel honors the Lord.
The Israelites honor the world.
A study of this lesson will help us understand the blessings of honoring and
pleasing the Lord above ourselves, others, or the world.
Scripture references for study: 1 Samuel
2–3; 1 Samuel 8
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 21 Handout (PDF
The Books of 1 & 2 Samuel
They describe the change from a tribal federation to an organized royal state.
There was a shift in worship during this period away from the local shrines
toward centralized worship at the temple.
These books contain a segment of the continuous history running from Genesis
to 2 Kings.
Spans the period from the judges to the final years of King David.
This led to the supreme importance of Jerusalem as a political and religious
The Sons of Eli Honor Themselves Above The Lord
The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, followed in the footsteps of their father as priests
1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25).
WHAT EFFECT DID THE ACTIONS OF ELI'S SONS HAVE ON OTHER PEOPLE IN ISRAEL?
Unfortunately, the sons of Eli were wicked priests.
They forcibly took the flesh of the sacrificial animals before the fat
portions had been burned on the altar.
They took some of the flesh that the offerer was boiling for the sacrificial
They seduced women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle.
HOW DO OUR ACTIONS AFFECT OTHERS?
1 SAMUEL 2:17. It caused the people abhor
the offering of the Lord.
1 SAMUEL 2:24. It encouraged the people
WHAT DO THE ACTIONS OF ELI'S SONS SUGGEST ABOUT WHOM THEY CHOSE TO HONOR?
Consider the actions of Corianton as addressed by his father Alma (see
Like Hophni and Phinehas, Corianton had been called into the service of
While serving amongst the Zoramites, Corianton ran off to "the
land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel"
Alma called his son to repentance and explained the impact of his actions
on those who he was serving: "Behold, O my son,
how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your
conduct they would not believe in my words" (Alma 39:11).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "What we now are
as a people is not enough. All is not yet well in Zion. Now, as in the
time of Alma, the bad conduct of a few members slows missionary work."
(Notwithstanding My Weakness, p85)
While on my mission some years ago, I encountered a situation somewhat
like that created by the Corianton. I had been transferred to an
area where, several months earlier, two missionaries had been sent home
due to inappropriate conduct. The work was difficult in this town
and we saw no results. It was almost as if a curse had been placed
on the area. One only needed to spend time there to know that the
selfish actions of one or two individuals affected the progress of the
spreading the gospel.
Recall the words of the Savior in that great sermon:
"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt
have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?" (Matthew
"Let your light so shine before men, that they
may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Elder LeGrand Richards: "If we have what
we claim, a marvelous work and a wonder, should it not inspire us as a
people to live up to its standards? It is nothing more than what Jesus
said that we should let our light so shine before men that they, seeing
our good works, should glorify our Father which is in heaven."
(CR, April 1962, p.43)
President Harold B. Lee: "In almost every
incident where a young man has been converted to the Church by our boys
in military service, he has told us that he was drawn to the Church because
of the clean, pure life of some Latter-day Saint boy with whom he was associated.
This is a day of demonstration when we as Latter-day Saints by our lives
will preach more the gospel of truth than by all the words that we may
conjure up." (CR, Oct. 1945, p49)
IN WHAT WAYS DO WE SOMETIMES CHOOSE HONOR AND PLEASE OURSELVES RATHER THAN
They certainly chose to honor themselves above the Lord and their sacred
WHY DO WE SOMETIMES CHOOSE TO PLEASE OURSELVES RATHER THAN GOD?
Do we listen to music that is positive and uplifting or that which defiles
and causes the spirit to flee.
Much of today's entertainment is not worthy of our high standards. When we choose to view or listen to it, we are pleasing
our own natural man tendencies and not honoring the Lord. Returning
to the previous question about the effects of our actions: What if we have
friends or associates who see us attending an inappropriate movie?
Sabbath Day observance:
Participating in/viewing sports.
Unnecessary work or chores, such as yard work or continuing a home improvement
Going to the movies.
Dating and Morality:
When we are not absolutely true to our covenants and observe the laws of
morality, we are once again giving in to the natural man and honoring the
If we choose not to fast on Fast Sunday or for other important reasons,
we are turning to the natural man.
Do we do the minimum rather than magnify our callings?
Might we turn down a calling because of other activities we might need
Might we go on a nice vacation, rather than pay our tithing?
Might we put ourselves in debt for unnecessary things, causing us to work
longer and take time away from our families and Church activities?
WHAT ARE ARE CONSEQUENCES OF HONORING OURSELVES MORE THAN GOD?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "One would
have thought that all the pleadings and warnings the Lord has made through
his prophets over the centuries would induce a high general level of righteousness.
Unfortunately this is not so. Apparently it is easier for man to sin than
to live a life of righteousness; therefore, greater effort needs to be
put forth to avoid evil and conform our lives to the elevating principles
of the gospel." (Miracle of Forgiveness, p135)
"For the natural man is an enemy to God"
When we honor ourselves more than God, we are giving into natural man tendencies. When we do so, we become an enemy to God.
"...men drink damnation to their own souls except
they humble themselves" (Mosiah 3:18).
How can we seek to honor ourselves, fulfill our vain ambitions, and live
the life of a "natural man" and then expect to receive the rewards of eternity?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "The natural man is actually at cross purposes
with God's plans. The natural man really has different ends, seeks different
outcomes, marches to different drummers. If unrepentant, such become 'carnal
and devilish, and the devil has power over them' (Mosiah 16:3)." (Men and
Women of Christ, p8)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Heavenly power can
be accessed only by those who are Christlike; it is a power whose continued
availability is maintained by meekness along with the other virtues."
(Meek and Lowly, p85)
We cannot obtain this "heavenly power" when we honor ourselves and seek
to fulfill our selfish ambitions. It can only be maintained as we
seek to live a Christlike life.
Eli Honors His Sons Above The Lord
WHAT RESPONSIBILITY DID ELI HAVE WHEN HE LEARNED OF THE WICKEDNESS OF HIS
HAD ELI FULFILLED HIS RESPONSIBILITY AS A FATHER?
1 SAMUEL 2:22-24. Eli questions his sons.
HOW DID THEY RESPOND?
"...they hearkened not unto the voice of their
father" (1 Samuel 2:25).
1 SAMUEL 2:27-29. A man of God delivers
the Lord's chastisement to Eli.
Eli partially fulfilled his responsibility by counseling them regarding
their evil behavior, but he did nothing further to correct the terrible
sins and their consequences.
Arthur M. Richardson: "Like most rebellious,
wicked sons they refused to take counsel from their father. However, Eli's
responsibility did not end with counseling his sons. He had a further responsibility
to protect the people from their depredations. This he failed to do. Rather,
he allowed them to continue in their priestly office taking advantage of
the people physically, spiritually, and morally." (Improvement
Era, Sep 1955)
WHY DID ELI NOT REMOVE HIS SONS FROM THEIR PRIESTLY DUTIES?
One might suppose that like most parents, there is hope for change. It is often difficult to chastise a child. We might be afraid of
offending them or losing their affection. Eli's sons were wicked
fellows. He might have even been afraid of retaliation.
The Lord told Eli that he "honourest thy sons
above me" (1 Samuel 2:29).
WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE ACTIONS OF ELI AND HIS SONS?
"...they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed"
Eli to lose his position (1
Hophni and Phinehas to die (1
IN WHAT WAYS DO WE SOMETIMES HONOR OUR CHILDREN OR OTHERS MORE THAN GOD?
Like Eli, at times we might be hesitant to discipline our children or call
them to repentance.
President Joseph F. Smith: "...there should
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, p286)
HOW CAN PARENTS FULFILL THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD WAYWARD CHILDREN IN
A SPIRIT OF LOVE?
I think one of the most important questions any parent can ask when dealing
with a difficult situation is, "If Jesus were the parent in this home,
how would he deal with this child?" When we put off our anger, seek
the spirit, and ask this question, new possibilities come to mind.
Here are a couple of challenging questions:
How difficult would it be to cause your children to be removed from a position
of honor if you knew that they had committed a transgression that would
qualify them for removal?
If you knew that you child had committed a sin that would qualify for disfellowshipment
or excommunication, would you go to the Church authorities?
I think we all find ourselves in situations where we may remain silent
rather than speak up.
Elder Dallin H Oaks: "We all remember how
a prophet reacted from a hospital bed when an operating room attendant
stumbled and cursed in his presence. Even half-conscious, Elder Kimball
recoiled and implored: 'Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you
revile'." (Ensign, May 1986, p51)
There are times when we find ourselves in similar situations, particularly
in the workplace. Who am I choosing to honor, when I fail to speak
out against such language? Am I seeking to honor my associates by
not offending them when I do not speak up against such language? Am I seeking to honor myself, by attempting to remain popular in the workplace?
We honor others in any situation when we act against that which we know
is right because we are afraid of what other people may think of us: honesty,
word of wisdom, situations regarding morality, etc.
Several years ago I traveled from Seattle to San Francisco for my employer. I was
detailed there for two weeks. Since the employer pays expenses, I was
required to complete a voucher upon my return. The form was
somewhat complicated and so I asked my boss for assistance. He asked
me if I took the taxi to and from the San Francisco office each day. I replied by stating, "No." He said, "Sure you did." He then
went on to explain how I needed to fill in those amounts. Later,
he explained how I should put down extra amounts for meals. This
was my boss. He was trying to help me get extra money out of my trip. I was concerned about my relationship with the man who held the power of
my employment. I went on to complete the voucher on my own using
actual expenses only. How easy it would have been to fill in the
amounts as he instructed and thank my boss for the tips. Who would
I have been honoring?
Samuel Honors The Lord
Recall the story of the calling of Samuel (see
1 Samuel 3:1-10).
WHY DID SAMUEL NOT KNOW IT WAS THE VOICE OF THE LORD CALLING TO HIM?
Samuel was serving in the temple after his mother, Hannah, had given him
to the Lord's service.
Samuel had laid down to sleep when the voice of the Lord called to Samuel
Thinking it was Eli, Samuel ran into him and said, "Here
am I; for thou calledst me" (v5).
Eli said that he had not called him and sent the boy back to bed.
The Lord called again, Samuel reported to Eli, and Eli sent the boy back
to bed (v6).
A third time, the Lord called. Samuel reported to Eli, but this time
Eli said, "Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he
call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth"
Samuel returned again to his bed and when the voice called to him, Samuel
said, "Speak; for thy servant heareth."
The message of the Lord was then delivered to Samuel (1
"And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and
did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even
to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD"
(1 Samuel 3:19-20).
DO WE SOMETIMES HEAR THE VOICE OF THE LORD AND NOT RECOGNIZE IT?
HOW CAN WE BE SURE THAT WE RECOGNIZE THE LORD'S VOICE?
"Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word
of the LORD yet revealed unto him" (1Samuel 3:7).
HOW DID SAMUEL HONOR THE LORD?
Recall the words of Nephi to his brothers Laman and Lemuel:
are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have
seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from
time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye
were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has
spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth
to shake as if it were to divide asunder." (1 Nephi 17:45)
Like Samuel, when the Lord calls to us, are we willing to respond?
When the Lord called Samuel he replied, "Here
Samuel was willing to respond to Lord. He did not ask the Lord to come
back in the morning when he was more rested or at a more convenient time.
When Samuel responded to the Lord he said, "Speak;
for thy servant heareth."
Samuel was prepared to listen to the message that the Lord would deliver. He was tuned in.
We know that Samuel lived a righteous life and heeded the words of the
Lord, for he became "a prophet of the LORD."
When the bishop calls us to an assignment do we reply, "Here I am"?
When we listen to the words of the prophet at General Conference, is our
attitude one of "Speak; for thy servant heareth"?
Like Samuel, once we have responded, do we follow through and continue
to honor the Lord?
The Israelites Honor The World
WHAT TYPE OF GOVERNMENT DID ISRAEL HAVE DURING SAMUEL'S MINISTRY?
Unfortunately, like many of today's politicians, Samuel's "sons
walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes,
and perverted judgment" (1 Samuel 8:3).
This provoked the elders of Israel to seek for a change. They came
to Samuel and asked for a king.
The reign of the judges continued. We read that "when
Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel" (1 Samuel
HOW DID SAMUEL RESPOND TO THEIR REQUEST?
WHY DID THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WANT A KING?
"...now make us a king to judge us like all the
nations" (1 Samuel 8:5).
"That we also may be like all the nations"
(1 Samuel 8:20).
It was as if they were saying, "We are a growing nation, let us enter the
family of nations and have a government like unto them. Let us put
away this silly, backward notion of judges."
HOW DID ISRAEL RESPOND TO THEIR PROPHET?
Samuel took the matter before the Lord.
The Lord's response to Samuel, "Hearken unto the
voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected
thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them"
(1 Samuel 8:7).
Samuel then went before the people and recited reasons for not having a
king (see 1 Samuel 8:11-17):
There would be compulsory service to the nation (military and other duties).
Taxes would be laden upon the people.
He would take of the lands and property of the people.
Samuel issued a final warning, "And ye shall
cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you;
and the LORD will not hear you in that day" (1 Samuel 8:18).
IN ASKING FOR A KING, WHOM DID THE ISRAELITES HONOR?
"Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice
of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us"
(1 Samuel 8:19).
IN WHAT WAYS DO WE SOMETIMES DESIRE TO BE "LIKE ALL THE NATIONS" OR THE
They were seeking to be "like all the nations."
They were seeking to honor the world and to be honored of the world, but
to do so they had rejected the Lord (1 Samuel 8:7).
The pamphlet For The Strength of Youth provides the standards that
often set us apart from the world. Though addressed to the youth,
these standards apply to adults as well as youth.
By our dress.
By our speech.
By our entertainment.
By our Sabbath activities.
Where do we find the "world" on a sunny Sabbath afternoon? The ballpark,
camping, boating, shopping.
As we seek to honor the Lord, instead of the world, we will be blessed. The First Presidency stated in this brochure, "We
promise that as you keep these standards and live by the truths in the
scriptures, you will be able to do your life's work with greater wisdom
and skill and bear trials with greater courage. You will have the help
of the Holy Ghost. You will feel good about yourself and will be a positive
influence in the lives of others. You will be worthy to go to the temple
to receive holy ordinances. These blessings and many more can be yours."
(For The Strength of Youth, p2-3)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
- The stories of Eli, his sons, and Samuel provide a contrast on how
one honors the Lord. What is the priority in my life? What
do I really desire? The reason we belong to the Church is because
of the promises of eternity. If our desires are elsewhere, then we
are placing our eternal reward in jeopardy. The Lord said, "For
what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his
own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
- Record your thoughts on honoring the Lord. How did Eli, his sons, and
Israel fail to honor the Lord? How did Samuel honor the Lord? Are you more
like Samuel or the others? What can you do to better honor the Lord?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
For the Strength of Youth.
Gospel Doctrine by Joseph F. Smith.
Meek and Lowly by Neal A. Maxwell.
Men and Women of Christ by Neal A. Maxwell.
Notwithstanding My Weakness by Neal A. Maxwell.
The Improvement Era.
The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
01 May 2014