What does 1 Samuel 2:17 mean?
ESV: Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD with contempt.
NIV: This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD's sight, for they were treating the LORD's offering with contempt.
NASB: And so the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord disrespectfully.
CSB: So the servants' sin was very severe in the presence of the Lord, because the men treated the Lord's offering with contempt.
NLT: So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt.
KJV: Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
NKJV: Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.
Verse Commentary:
The previous verses (1 Samuel 1:12–16) described the worst area of priestly corruption at the very heart of Israel's worship of the Lord: that of the sacred offerings. Sacrifices of animals, as commanded by the law of Moses, represented the most clear and obvious way God's people could voluntarily come and make direct contact with Him. This was meant to happen through the representatives He had designated from the tribe of Levi: the priests. What were the people supposed to do if the priests refused to carry out the offerings in a God-honoring way? What if those men instead used their position to claim more of the meat from the offerings for themselves?

Scripture is entirely clear what God thought of these practices. In His sight, these were very great sins. The young men, meaning Eli's sons and perhaps their servants, were treating the offerings with contempt. They behaved as if the offerings to the Lord meant nothing at all. In their minds, this was nothing more than a way to provide food for themselves.

The use of the phrase "young men" may indicate that Eli himself was not involved in these practices directly, but the Lord will hold Eli accountable for scorning the sacrifices and fattening himself with them (1 Samuel 2:29). Eli and his sons eventually paid the ultimate price for their lack or reverence for God and His relationship to His people through the sacrificial system (1 Samuel 2:27–36).
Verse Context:
First Samuel 2:12–21 contrasts Eli's sons with Hannah's son Samuel. Eli's sons are worthless men who don't know the Lord. They abuse their power as priests to take the best cuts of animals offered for themselves, treating the sacrifice to the Lord with contempt. Samuel, just a boy, ministers to the Lord at the sanctuary. Hannah brings him a new robe each year and Eli blesses her with a prayer for more children. She has three more sons and two daughters with her husband Elkanah. Samuel grows up in God's presence at the sanctuary.
Chapter Summary:
After delivering Samuel to the Lord, Hannah offers a poetic prayer of praise. The sons of Eli the priest are evil, depraved men who abuse their power as priests. They coerce worshippers to give them additional meat. They sleep with women who serve at the sanctuary. In contrast, Samuel grows in favor with God and others as he grows up physically. Hannah and Elkanah continue to go to Shiloh yearly; they also have more children. Eli rebukes his sons, but they don't repent. The Lord tells Eli that all his descendants will die young and his two rebellious sons will die on the same day. The Lord will raise up a faithful priest to do His will.
Chapter Context:
The prior chapter explained how Hannah cried out to God for a son, and that her request was granted. First Samuel 2 begins with Hannah's praise to the Lord in response. Samuel remains in Shiloh where he ministers and matures. By contrast, Eli's sons are wicked and abuse their power as priests. A prophet reveals that God will cause all Eli's descendants to die young and his two sons to die on the same day. The Lord will raise up a faithful priest from another part of the family line. This provides background for Samuel's call from God in chapter 3.
Book Summary:
First Samuel introduces the key figures who led Israel after the era of the judges. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally part of a single text, split in certain translations shortly before the birth of Christ. Some of the Bible’s most famous characters are depicted in this book. These including the prophet Samuel, Israel’s first king, Saul, her greatest king, David, and other famous names such as Goliath and Jonathan. By the end of this book, Saul has fallen; the book of 2 Samuel begins with David’s ascension to the throne.
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