WHEN FATHERS FAILED
By Rev. Dr. H. M. Songate
The greatest need in the society all over the world today is for fathers who will rise up and take up their responsibilities in upbringing their families. When a family fails the society and its surrounding fails. When a small unit of families fails the community fails. When all communities failed the state and the country fails. That is why the role of a father in taking up and assume their God-given role of responsibility in the family is very crucial. Though, each member of a family has a role to play, the responsibility of a man is expanded when he is married.
It would actually be a lot easier to talk about “good dads” in the Bible, rather than the “bad dads,” because there were many bad dads, but very few good ones. In fact, many of the fathers in the bible appeared to have been pretty lousy fathers. They allowed their children to get away with things, and in some cases did things to their children, that in today’s society would almost certainly have resulted in their children being taken away from them. Let’s look at some examples from some of these famous fathers.
- David had not failed as a warrior rather he was the most successful warrior – 1 Sam 17:32&45 (Goliath).
- He did not fail as a king. He was known as the most successful king- 2 Sam 8:15 & 19:9-11.
- But David failed terribly as a father, He shifted his parental responsibility. He was too busy being King to see Amnon’s problem 13:1-2. He failed to punish Amnon 13:21. He failed to see Absalom’s hatred and make peace between his sons but again he was too busy to go anywhere with his sons 13:24-25. David failed to forgive his son completely 14:24-28. He failed to pass his own faith on to his son. This is the saddest of all, David lhad not earned from his father Jesse. He misled his son by his actions. Absalom was about 16 when David had his affair with Bathsheba! Actually Absalom carried out God’s judgement 47 years later. (Absalom 63 – David 83) – 12:11 & 16:22
- In I Kings 1:6 God said of David about Adonijah, “And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying ‘Why have you done so?’
AFTER EFFECTS OF DAVID’S FAILURE:
- He had to leave his throne to spare the city (15:6-14) How many of God’s servants have been set aside by sexual sin?
- He bore shame and rebuke from his enemies and the prophet.
- Most of all David lost his son. Our children’s failures are our failures. Our children’s successes are our successes.
- The hopelessness of David’s cry echo’s the fact that there will be no second chance. But God does not withdraw his love, never disciplines in anger(1 Cor 13:5), never forces our will. But God does Set Boundaries, Warns us (Gal 6:7) Chastens us for our benefit. Is willing to forgive us when we return
- David lost Absalom between the age of 16 & 23.
ELI- the Prophet (1 Samuel 2-4).
- He was a good man. He had many excellent character qualities as high priest in Israel.
- In his long life you will not find any record of terrible sin. He did not drink, steal, lie or swear. He never divorced his wife, committed adultery, or abused his children.
- Observe his kind treatment of the boy Samuel. Eli knew that Samuel would be his replacement as spiritual leader of Israel. Yet there is no trace of jealousy. Instead, when Samuel revealed God’s judgment against Eli, Eli responded quietly and submissively: “He is the Lord; let Him do what is good in His eyes” (1 Samuel 3:18).
- Furthermore, it is clear that the old man had a deep love for the ark of God, which symbolized God’s presence. When the ark was carried into battle, Eli’s heart feared for it (1 Samuel 4:13). And when he heard of the capture of the ark of God, he fell off his seat, broke his neck and died (verse 18). Right to his death, this man was deeply concerned about the things of God.
BUT ELI FAILED AS A FATHER (A COLOSSAL FAILURE):
- Yet Eli failed miserably both as a father and as a priest. He knew God, and yet God pronounced judgment upon him and his descendants (see 1 Samuel 2:27-36; 3:14).
- Eli was a passive father. God said, “I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:13). In 1 Samuel 2:29, Eli not only tolerated his sons’ sin, but also participated in it by eating the portion of the sacrifices intended for the Lord.
- In effect he said, “Now boys, you shouldn’t do these things. People are talking!” (23-25). Too little, too late!
- A good man? Yes, very good. But he did not have enough backbone to stand up to his sons. Eli was immersed in religion. He worked at the tabernacle – he lived there! But the reality of walking with God was not present in Eli’s life.
- Eli was tolerant of personal and family sin but harsh on the sins of others. When Eli thought that Hannah was drunk at the door of the tabernacle, he scolded her (1:12-17). But when his own sons were committing adultery at the door of the tabernacle, it wasn’t until the worshipers started complaining that Eli came out with his feeble, “Now boys, you shouldn’t do that” (2:22-25). And as for the sons’ corrupt practice of confiscating the sacrifices and eating the best parts (which should have been offered to the Lord), Eli knew he shouldn’t eat those choice pieces, but he loved prime rib (verse 29)!
- Nothing corrupts children more than to see a parent who has the form of religion but who lacks reality with God. Kids know when you are putting on the pious act.
- Eli’s sons, “did not know the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12). We cannot just let our children grow up neutral so that they can decide for themselves about God. Eli failed to impart to his sons a respect for God’s ways, including the sacrifices and offerings (2:13, 27-29).
SAMUEL TOO WAS A FAILURE:
- Samuel was a good and courageous prophet. He was successful as a prophet
- But failed miserably as a father! In I Sam 8:3 God said, “But his sons did not walk in his ways, they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes and perverted justice”.
- You may be a successful pastor or a church leader. You may be a successful businessman or public leader. But are you successful enough in your home front?
Your husband may not be perfect as are you. Your father may not be exactly the way you wanted him to be. You did not choose your father. It is God who gives you. It is not your choice. The bible says, “Honour your father and mother”. It did not say, “If you like”. Wives should give honour and due respect in all areas of responsibilities to their husbands as the bible says. Wives are responsible for supporting their husbands to make the family strong and united. Children ought to love, honour and respect fathers as the bible teaches them. Fathers had much more burden and concern for the wellbeing and welfare of their families more than anyone else could imagine. They have dreams for their wives and children though they may not have enough time to be with them. They care, they love and pity on their families. Hundreds of Indian farmers commit suicide every year as they could not provide their loved ones’ needs. Even an IRS officer in India committed suicide (15/06/2020) as he was afraid to infect his wife and children with Covid 19! “AS the father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him” says the bible (Psalm 103:13.) God even compares father’s love and care with His! Let us all support fathers and show our love today, not because it is ‘Father’s Day’, but because they deserve it!