Beware the Eli Effect

If you haven’t read it in a while, check out 1 Samuel 1-2. It’s a great story about Hannah, the woman who was unable to conceive, and Eli, the priest who was unable to perceive.. Notice that Eli remained seated while Hannah stood before the Lord and poured out her heart in prayer. Then from a distance, he made an accusation:

How long will you keep on getting drunk?  1 Samuel 1:14

What kind of a question is that? The man didn’t even make the effort to get up and stand next to her. Did she even carry a hint of the smell of alcohol? Yet, he assumed she was drunk without seeking proof.

But, before we criticize Eli too much, it makes me wonder how often we cast judgment from a distance, making assumptions without all the information. This week, pay a little more attention to yourself. And, when you’re tempted to jump to a conclusion, ask yourself if you have all the facts.

Beware the Eli Effect.


  1. What I found interesting about this story was that Eli assumed Hannah was drunk, not mentally unstable or just distraught. His quick assumption makes me wonder if he had prior experiences of people coming into the temple intoxicated? And by making that assumption, Hannah’s behavior was apparently out of the norm back then. Was it unusual for people to pour out their hearts to God in prayer? And wouldn’t a priest, out of all people, recognize someone doing that? Did Hannah just have an usual close relationship with God, which is why He blessed her with a child?

    1. Really good questions, Sarah. I have a hunch he was familiar with people who were drunk, since his own sons (also priests) were a immoral, gluttonous, and highly undisciplined. What amazes me is that Hannah went ahead and turned Samuel over to Eli even though he wasn’t the best example for people to follow. And, yes – I think God saw her faith and obedience and blessed her.

      Great insight on your part!!

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