Chapter
Verse
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1 Samuel 3:17

ESV And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.”
NIV What was it he said to you?' Eli asked. 'Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.'
NASB He said, 'What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do the same to you, and more so, if you hide a single word from me of all the words that He spoke to you!'
CSB "What was the message he gave you? " Eli asked. "Don't hide it from me. May God punish you and do so severely if you hide anything from me that he told you."
NLT What did the Lord say to you? Tell me everything. And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!'
KJV And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.

What does 1 Samuel 3:17 mean?

Eli has been Samuel's guardian and mentor since the boy was a very young age (1 Samuel 1:24–28). His blessing on Hannah had been used by the Lord, in part, to grant her request for a son (1 Samuel 1:17). He had likely raised Samuel as a son, at least in some sense, training the boy in the ways of the temple (1 Samuel 2:11, 18–20, 26; 3:1). Then, on the previous night, Eli had realized that the Lord God of Israel was calling out to Samuel in a voice the boy could hear (1 Samuel 3:4–9). This meant the boy was entering the realm of prophets.

True prophets were called on to deliver God's messages in their entirety and without changes (Deuteronomy 18:20–22). So, Eli uses language closely tied to prophetic oaths. We see this type of oath language in other places, such as when Ruth swore her allegiance to Naomi (Ruth 1:17) and when Jonathan promised to warn David if Saul wanted to kill him (1 Samuel 20:12–13). We also see it used to confirm a threat, such as when Abner changed his loyalty from Saul's line to David (2 Samuel 3:9–11) or when Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:2). Here, it seems Eli is using this as a mentoring opportunity with Samuel. He tells Samuel to deliver the entire message he received from the Lord and not to hide any of it. Assuming it to be a message of judgment, which prophecies often were, Eli warns Samuel that the Lord will do to him at least what's described, plus whatever parts of the judgment prophecy Samuel leaves out in the telling.

This sounds harsh, at first, but Eli is instructing Samuel on the full responsibility of a prophet of the Lord. Those entrusted with God's messages must not under any circumstances fail to deliver God's words to the intended audience (Jeremiah 1:4–8; Ezekiel 33:7–9; Acts 20:26–27). Samuel needed to learn this.

Eli probably didn't know the judgment prophecy was about him and his family. Then again, he might has suspected it; Eli had been given a similar and more detailed prophecy previously (1 Samuel 2:27–36). In any case, he receives Samuel's words without defense (1 Samuel 3:18).
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