Discipline your children

Today’s post is the sixth and final post in a series of posts on Parents of the Bible. These posts are the outcome of the question, “How do I be a good parent?” I am looking at the Bible stories we already know and seeing what I can learn about parenting. Throughout the summer, I hope to share some of what I have discovered.

Today’s post is designed to be read more like short devotional than a regular post. My hope is that as you read it, you will allow God’s Word to penetrate your heart and influence your thinking.

Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
1 Samuel 3:11‭-‬14 ESV

Wow! God was being really harsh in today’s passage. Why?

If we go back a chapter to 1 Samuel 2, we read that Eli, the high priest, had two very wicked sons. They did not know the Lord; they stole the best meat from the sacrifices and they slept with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

Keep in mind that these men were priests. They who were supposed to be above reproach. Yet, they were some of the most evil men in the country.

There is one phrase in today’s passage that really stands out to me – “…his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.” While we know from prior chapters that Eli talked to his sons about their wickedness, this passage indicates that he did not do anything to correct their behavior. We also know that he did not have them removed as priests. He allowed them to continue serving in the tabernacle, even though they were living in outright sin.

As I look at this family, I wonder what Eli was like as a father when his sons were little. Did he allow them to get away with things? Did he discipline and correct them as children? Or was he too busy to take time to teach them? Was he a pushover and allowed his sons to walk all over him? The Bible doesn’t say. But I think we can guess a few things about Eli’s parenting.

Here is my takeaway from Eli – Disciple your children. Start early while they are still pliable and aren’t set in their sinful ways. Deal with their sin and point them towards God.

Take care of your marriage

Today’s post is the fifth in a series of posts on Parents of the Bible. These posts are the outcome of the question, “How do I be a good parent?” I am looking at the Bible stories we already know and seeing what I can learn about parenting. Throughout the summer, I hope to share some of what I have discovered.

Today’s post is designed to be read more like short devotional than a regular post. My hope is that as you read it, you will allow God’s Word to penetrate your heart and influence your thinking.

Genesis 27:5‭-‬13 ESV

Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”

A year ago, this passage of scripture took on new meaning for me. I had always looked at this passage with an eye of superior disapproval at the trickery that took place. As I have been studying Bible parents, I’ve seen that this story is full of application for my life.

Rebecka told her son to trick his blind, elderly father. Who does that? And why?

As I pondered those questions, I wondered what kind of relationship Rebecka had with Isaac. Their relationship seems to have started out well.

Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Genesis 24:67 ESV

What happened? As I looked at the next two chapters, I found a few clues. Abraham died; Rebekah was barren; when she did conceive, she had a horrible pregnancy; Isaac lies about their relationship, saying that she is his sister; there are quarrels with villagers over water rights; and Esau takes two wives that make life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

If I had been in Rebekah’s place, I would have been tempted to become bitter toward my husband. When I am mad at husband, I can act horribly towards him. And that animosity affects my children.

In Isaac and Rebekah’s case, it greatly affected the relationship between Jacob and Esau.

Here is my take away from Rebekah – Take care of the issues and irritations in your marriage. Don’t let them fester and build. If they aren’t dealt with, they will destroy your marriage and will affect your children.

Believe God’s Promises

Today’s post is the fourth in a series of posts on Parents of the Bible. These posts are the outcome of the question, “How do I be a good parent?” I am looking at the Bible stories we already know and seeing what I can learn about parenting. Throughout the summer, I hope to share some of what I have discovered.

Today’s post is designed to be read more like short devotional than a regular post. My hope is that as you read it, you will allow God’s Word to penetrate your heart and influence your thinking.

Judges 13:1-25 ESV

And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. 3 And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”

Then Manoah prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.” 9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field. But Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.” 11 And Manoah arose and went after his wife and came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to this woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 And Manoah said, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?” 13 And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. 14 She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.”

15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” 16 And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) 17 And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” 18 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” 19 So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. 20 And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.

21 The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” 24 And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the Lordbegan to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

I have to admire Samson’s mother. She has given a promise by the angel of the Lord and never doubted.

So many times, we read or hear God’s promises proclaimed, yet we don’t believe them. We cast them aside as being irrelevant, unrealistic or impossible. They sound nice, but can’t possibly happen.

It is my belief that if we want to be good parents, we need to believe God’s promises and trust God to bring those promises to pass.

Samson’s mother believed, and her belief was confirmed when Samson’s unbelieving or skeptical father asked for a confirmation of what his wife had said.

We may not always see the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lifetime. But if God has promised, He will fulfill His promise.

My take away from Samson’s mother – believe God’s promises. Believe even when those around you doubt.

Train your children to follow God

Today’s post is the third in a series of post on Parents of the Bible. These posts are the outcome of the question, “How do I be a good parent?” I am looking at the Bible stories we already know and seeing what I can learn about parenting. Throughout the summer, I hope to share some of what I have discovered.

Today’s post is designed to be read more like short devotional than a regular post. My hope is that as you read it, you will allow God’s Word to penetrate your heart and influence your thinking.

Daniel 1:1-21 ESV

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. 8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.

Today’s parents could have quoted 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Who are these parents? They are the parents of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. We know nothing about them other than that trained their children to follow the ways of God. They trained their children to follow God even when they, the parents, weren’t looking.

At this time during Israel’s history, the nation had so thoroughly turned it’s back on God that He had them sent them into captivity as punishment for their wickedness. So, the fact that these four youths knew God’s law and how to follow it is kind of amazing. What is further, they were the only ones from their peers taken from Israel to the Babylonian palace that seemed to even think about continuing to follow God’s laws.

As I was thinking about training children, I had to ask myself what the difference was between training and discipline. Discipline is defined as “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience” while training is “the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior” (source: Google dictionary). Discipline happens in the moment while training takes thoughtful effort on our part.

Training my children is something I find difficult. It is easy to correct their behavior in the moment when they have shown us a flaw. Purposefully talking to them about God or reading them Bible stories takes time, energy and, in some cases, purposeful preparation is not easy. Training takes work. That didn’t seem to stop these parents, though. They fought through, even when those around them weren’t doing the same.

Here is my takeaway from the parents of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – They purposely trained their children in the ways of God. They trained their children in such a way that it stuck with their children, even when those children were no longer with them.

Keep your promises (even when it’s hard)

Today’s post is the second in a series of post on Parents of the Bible. These posts are the outcome of the question, “How do I be a good parent?” I am looking at the Bible stories we already know and seeing what I can learn about parenting. Throughout the summer, I hope to share some of what I have discovered.

Today’s post is designed to be read more like short devotional than a regular post. My hope is that as you read it, you will allow God’s Word to penetrate your heart and influence your thinking.

1 Samuel 1:1-3, 9-11, 19-28 ESV

1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. 3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.

9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” 21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Promises. They seem to be things easily made and easily broken. We promise ourselves that we will lose weight. We promise help with a ministry at church. But when the time comes, we back out because we are too busy. We promise to keep a secret, but pass the information along to our best friend. We promise God we will spend more time with Him, but forget and continue on the way we are.

Hannah promised God that if He would give her a son, she would give him back. Not many of us could make such a promise, let alone keep it. Yet Hannah did. Even when others might have accused her of going back on her promise because she didn’t participate in the Passover, she still remained faithful. She kept her promise and gave her only child back to God.

If we are to be good parents, we also need to keep our promises. If we don’t, our spouse and children won’t believe what we say.

Discipline is a good example of this. If we promise our children a punishment for bad behavior, we need to keep that promise. Failing to discipline in the way we promised will result in children who won’t listen and will continue to misbehavior.

Failing to keep marital promises in another example. Breaking the marriage covenant causes serious problems in our marriage, family and lifestyle. (See the devotional about King David for further illustration.)

Here is my takeaway from Hannah – Keep your promises, even when it is hard. She only saw her son once a year after she left him at the temple. God, however, rewarded her faithfulness by giving her more children. Even though we may not see it now, God will also reward us for keeping our promises to Him, our spouse, our children and the world.