Last Sunday night I taught from 1 Samuel 2:12-36 as part of my series on 1-2 Samuel. This passage is a stunning literary contrast between two corrupt priests- Hophni and Phinehas, sons of Eli- and one faithful, God-pleasing little boy. The two verses that capture the theme of the passage (and I'd argue, the theme of the book) are verse 17 and verse 21. In verse 17 we see the sons of Eli described in this way, "The sin of the young men was very great before the LORD" and in verse 21 young Samuel is described in this way, "the boy Samuel grew before the LORD". The words I've italicized are from the same root Hebrew word- gadol, which means great or mighty- so that in the original language this is a clever play on words. Hophni and Phinehas were great sinners while Samuel was becoming a man of great faith.
Of course the sons of Eli met a violent end by the edge of Philistine swords while Samuel continued to grow in the LORD and was used mightily by the LORD. The message is clear: God brings low those who are mighty in sin and self (see also King Saul and Goliath as examples here) and lifts up those who are mighty in faith or to put it another way, have faith in the LORD's might (see also the shepherd boy David). There is tremendous application here as we should seek to heed the words of our Lord Jesus in Luke 14:11, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."