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.