“This sin of the young men
was very great in the Lord’s sight,
for they were treating the Lord’s offering
1 Samuel 2:17
The young men referred to in this verse are Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, the priest. This is a very sad ~ but certainly not the only ~ instance in Scripture when we see servants or priests of God abusing their position. In this case, abusing the gifts they were given by the people, due to their position.
When making sacrifices for the people, priests were to use a three pronged fork, and plunge it into the pot where sacrificial meat was being boiled. Whatever came up on the fork belonged to the priest; this was their share. But these sons of Eli were demanding their share of the meat raw, before the fat was burned off. And if the Israelite offering the sacrifice refused, Hophni and Phinehas took it by force.
This verse about their sin is very sobering. It brought to my mind James 2:10, which says that whoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. God insists in this verse that none of us can judge another. There is no one sin worse than another, and anyone who thinks so is being self-righteous. A friend of mine says, “Sin is sin is sin.” And Jesus said that while anyone who murders will be subject to judgment, so will anyone who is angry with his brother. This pronouncement that anger is just as much a sin in God’s eyes as murder, must have the shocked the law-loving ultra-religious authorities.
But here we do see a sin that is considered “very great” in the Lord’s eyes. And it isn’t murder, or even injuring another. It is the sin of treating the Lord’s offering with contempt. The Lord asked so little, really, of His children. Just a portion of their meat, or grain. A thank you for what the Lord had provided for them. And these young men were stealing what belonged to the Lord.
So then I start thinking of what God asks of me. I think of all that He has done for me. What is my offering? What is my sacrifice? Am I giving it all to Him? Or am I giving Him what is left over? He deserves my time, and my thanks, and my praise. Sometimes, I can’t even manage to acknowledge that everything I have comes from Him, much less give Him what He deserves.
What He expects of me pales in comparison with what He has given me. He has given me a kind and true and faithful husband, and He asks that I have a gentle spirit of submission to this man. He has given me intelligent, healthy, beautiful children and He asks that I raise them up in the way they should go. He has given me wise and kind parents and in-laws, and He asks me to honor them as long as I live.
My response to all He has given me, should be thankfulness, and a willingness to offer Him my best, a sacrifice of my will. Anything else is treating Him with contempt.
~ "Now I bring the firstfruits
of what you, Lord, have given me." ~