LISTEN: The Acceptable Christian Sin of Gluttony #56 (A Message for the Church with Daniel Whyte III)

Daniel Whyte III
Daniel Whyte III

TEXT: 1 Samuel 4:12-18

12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.

13 And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.

14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.

15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.

16 And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?

17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.

18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.



James Clear, author of “The Quick Start Guide to Intermittent Fasting,” writes: “You may have heard people say that you should have six meals per day or eat every 3 hours or something like that. Here’s why this was a popular idea for a brief period of time: Your body burns calories when it’s processing food. So the thought behind the more meals strategy was that if you ate more frequently, you would also burn more calories throughout the day. Thus, eating more meals should help you lose weight. Here’s the problem: The amount of calories you burn is proportional to the size of the meal your body is processing. So, digesting six smaller meals that add up to 2000 calories burns the same amount of energy as processing two large meals of 1000 calories each. It doesn’t matter if you get your calories in 10 meals or in 1 meal, you’ll end up in the same place.”


This is an uncomfortable subject for many of us, but if you listen and take heed, this particular series can not only change your life spiritually, but it can save your life physically.

We are all familiar with the story of Eli, the high priest who was dedicated to God, but did a terrible job raising his sons. The verses we have just read describe his final moments alive. The children of Israel have gone to war with the Philistines, and Eli is sitting by the road near the tabernacle waiting to hear the outcome of the battle. He is especially concerned about the fate of the Ark of the Covenant which the children of Israel had carried into battle.

A messenger comes running from the battle to tell Eli four things: that the Israelites were defeated, that there was a “great slaughter,” that his two sons were among the dead, and the the Ark had been captured. The news is too much to take for old Eli, and when the last blow comes — the mention of the ark of God, the Bible says, “he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died.” The writer adds, “he was an old man, and heavy.”

The word translated as “heavy” not only implies fatness, but means one who is dull, slow, or unresponsive. Eli, if he had survived his fall, would not have been able to get up off the ground without assistance. As we saw with the story of Ehud and Eglon, being “fat” or “heavy” is not mentioned to mock or make fun of these people. The Bible does not dwell on it, and the writers simply mention it as an aside. One commentator, T. Justin Comer, has some thoughts on why this is the case. He writes regarding these and other passages, “Obesity is never the actual issue being addressed. It is always a passing detail that is added to show for the amount of wickedness of the person. This causes me to ask some very sober questions. Is it possible that obesity is so foreign to the mind of the godly that the Bible simply just doesn’t address it directly? Is it possible that obesity is such a sign of lack of discipline that it is only ever associated with the wicked? Is it actually possible that only the wicked are obese?”

There is not much to infer from Eli’s demise in connection with his unfitness of body. But, Eli would likely be classified among the many pastors, evangelists, and so-called prophets and apostles today who claim to be serving God big time but who have also gotten big because of the time they spend at the breakfast, lunch, and dinner table. This lack of discipline eventually shows up in health ailments that may make us dull and unresponsive, like Eglon and Eli, unable to react fast enough to save our own life.

If the Lord tarries his coming and we live, next time, we will continue looking at what this passage tells us about overcoming gluttony, obesity, and God’s plan for man’s eating habits.