Ever buy something that promised to clean, fix, or do something specifically for a particular task, but when you got it home, it didn't work at all? The item is completely worthless. You wasted your money. It's good for nothing but to be thrown away. Believe it or not, despite our culture's protest the contrary, people can be worthless too. The difference, of course, is that people choose their paths. They are purposely worthless.
I was always taught that no one was worthless. In our culture of self-esteem (read "self exaltation" here), to say that someone is worthless is much like cursing at someone with the worst curse word imaginable. In fact, you can curse at someone in our culture and be considered normal, but call someone worthless and you're the worst person ever to walk the face of the earth. We conjure up images of some drunk and abusive father calling his kids worthless, which ironically displays the worthlessness of the father, not necessarily the kids at all.
However, the Bible calls people worthless all the time. They are worthless because they have rejected their roles as God's image to procreate and preserve life as acts of worship to the One whom they represent. They are made to co-create and co-preserve human life together with God in our struggle against chaos and the devil's goal to wipe humanity from the face of the earth. Instead, people often become the devil's helper, Satan's images, instead of God's. Hence, destroyers of other people (i.e., murderers and those who conspire with murderers) are called worthless people in the Bible. In fact, there are even different expressions for it (l(ylb "worthless," or "good for nothing" 1 Sam 30:22; l(ylb(h) #y) "a man of [the] worthless" 2 Sam 16:7; 20:1, or l(ylb Mynb "sons of worthlessness," which functions kind of like a gentilic that describes the very ethnic affiliation of an individual but instead uses their most prominent characteristic in place of their literal ethnicity, as if to say something like "Good-for-Nothing-ites" Deut. 13:13; Jud 19:22; 20:13; 1 Sam 2:12; 10:27; 25:17, 25; 1 Kings 21:10, 13; qyr "void of value" Jud 9:4; 11:3). They all seem to be used interchangeably (e.g., 2 Chron 13:7). Even the Lord Jesus Himself calls men who were supposed to do good, instead of shun that role, "worthless servant[s]" (Matt 25:30).
In fact, if we look at the passages, a worthless person in the Bible is someone who is called to fulfill a life-giving role, whether that be to function as His images, know God and represent Him to others, or even to give children to one's husband (1 Sam 1:16--note that Hannah is asking her husband to not consider her as a worthless woman who purposely neglects her role to procreate human life); but instead purposely pursues other things that neglect or negate that duty.
This worthless fellow killed his wife and teenage daughter because he was looking for something more exciting in life. He was bored and wanted something beyond the norm of his average life. He had no love, and therefore, no pleasure and excitement in being part of God's plan to create and nurture human life as God's image, so, as with so many others who have no love for God, doing the work of God on earth became mundane and boring. The path that leads to hell is far more stimulating to the worthless mind.
What a horrific metaphor for what people do to their families for the sake of excitement in their lives. Most don't literally kill their families. They just kill them in other ways while they go off to "find" themselves (which usually means to indulge themselves in all of the pursuits of the world). "I was bored with life and seeking some excitement" is probably one of the main reasons I hear from people who ignore their families, leave their spouses, abandon their children, etc. Rather than fulfill the role of life-giver, these people become life takers, abandon their roles as the image of God, and become utterly useless to anyone, including to themselves (as in doing so, they will ultimately take life even from themselves by abandoning themselves to death and hell). You don't have to literally kill your family to become worthless. You can just not know the Lord yourself, as Eli's sons did not know Him, and make your life all about yourself in order to become a "son of Belial" (note that the term Belial is a name for the devil later on as well). Worthless people, agents of chaos whose actions work against the creation and preservation of human life in God through Christ, find the life laid out for us by God to be distasteful. It is the thrill of following the devil that gets them excited. They have no joy in God's pleasure and presence, and therefore, give up
the greatness of heaven to choose their final state in utter
worthlessness in hell. In any case, there is more than one way to be a worthless fellow.
A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who continually speaks falsehood, who maliciously winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, who curses with his fingers; who [with] corruption in his mind continually devises evil, who spreads strife. Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing. (Prov 6:12-15)
To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by [their] deeds they deny [Him], being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. (Titus 1:15-16)