1 Samuel 4:18 (NKJV)
“Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.”
Yes, it was very sad that the Ark of the Covenant was captured and Israel was sorely defeated at the battlefront, but one interesting aspect of the story was the state of Eli the priest. The Bible says he was, “old and very heavy.” Now this phrase can be understood to mean many things, but here are a few simple interpretations.
Firstly, that Eli was old could mean that he was elderly in age, or that his spiritual perception was aged. Either way, he was unable to understand what was happening in the spiritual realm until he received a physical report from someone. But that is not how a priest is supposed to operate. A priest is supposed to be discerning and able to “see with the eyes of God,” and know God’s mind by the Spirit of God. But Eli was old. He had lost his spiritual eyes and had to depend on the reports of men to understand the actions of God.
Eli was also described as, “heavy,” which could also have different interpretations. Eli’s heaviness could mean his spirit was suppressed because of all those years of over-eating forbidden meats from his depraved children, or it could mean that he was “heavy-laden” with so many distractions from his world and family. Whichever way, he was a man out of touch with God’s reality and dependent on human interpretations of events.
Are we like Eli? How do we apply these insights to our lives? Two ways. Firstly, as we grow old (meaning, as we age in whatever ways possible), we need to work to stay “young” in spirit. Young men and women see visions. Their eyes are open to see the future; to see what could be. Old people only look backward, while young folks see possibilities. Don’t become old in your thinking and perspectives. Also, remain young and flexible and dynamic and creative in your inner man. No matter your physical age, always be growing and developing and keeping young.
And this leads to the second application: Be wary of things that weigh you down. Be careful of those excesses that become weights on your pilgrimage. Beware of the 3F’s: Excessive Food, Fun, and Friends are three things that easily weigh down any man. Also, get into the gym, or do some form of bodily exercise if possible. Don’t let yourself become fat and fixed like Eli. Even if you are overweight, pray for the grace to lose some, or do a lot of daily movements to ensure that your body does not become a drag to your spirit.
Stop eating late at night. Heavy bodies become heavy hearts and lead to heavy spirits. Eli was too heavy, and that was why his fall led to his death. Poor management of age and weight lead to premature death. Be careful dear pilgrim. Do you want to stay relevant? Manage your aging well.