A MESSAGE FOR FATHERS
Discipline: Too Little, Too Late
No one can better teach a son than his own father.
How will sons turn out if their fathers are so busy with their own priestly service that they neglect to train them sufficiently for their adult roles? EIi and his worthless sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are an example of what happens when discipline is neglected. Eli’s laxness in discipline led to wicked sons who openly committed adultery and “treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt” (1 Sam. 2:22,17).
Eli’s carelessness in disciplining his sons was made evident when he finally confronted them with their sins. His main concern was what the people thought about their sin of adultery. Sadly, he didn’t confront them until he heard “from all the people about these wicked deeds” (2:23-24). His sons, however, “did not listen to their father’s rebuke” (2:25). Eli’s feeble discipline of his sons was too little and too late.
Scripture gives little evidence that Eli was personally disciplined as a priest or parent. While he was going through the motions of his priestly ministry, his sons were going bad. Consequently, his service suffered, his sons suffered and the Lord’s testimony suffered, as the sins of his sons even made “the Lord’s people transgress” (2:24). A father’s influence in discipline can either form or deform the relationship his sons have with him, with others, and with the Lord.
Eli’s laxness in discipline led: to a breakdown in the relationship between the priests and God, to the ark being captured by the Philistines, to the death of his sons and to his own death. In short, Eli’s inability to discipline impacted the whole nation: “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured” (4:22). No one can better teach a son how to be a husband, father, priest and servant of the Lord than his own father. Shouldn’t all fathers take this responsibility more seriously?
By Larry Ondrejack
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.