parenting 101 from Eli the priest who sort of loved his sons…

Doing some re-reading of the 1 Samuel, before diving into 2 Samuel. At least one of the weeks of our camp this summer will be from there, and well, LTC and Bible Bowl for ’10 will be in 2 Samuel.

Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of things this morning in 1 Samuel. Take Elkanah, and Hannah. They were a very devoted family, making worship a family priority. Also, prayer plays a huge role in the life of Hannah. I love how in her anguish she pours out her soul to the Lord, and Eli the priest thinks she is drunk.

Also, contrast Elkanah/Hannah with Elia and his sons. Eli was a religious man working in the service of the Lord and his two sons also are servants in the service of the Tabernacle. Yet, they were wretched. They played the role, but changed the rules. Their example is one of devotion turn askew. They were devoted to the Lord alright, just not to Yahweh. It seems that their Lord was whatever they wanted to do, they did. Changing the rules of the sacrifice, having sex with the women who were serving in the Tabernacle as well. These are not the kind of men you want others in ministry to model. Eli had no power to restrain them.

Eli’s lack of ability to restrain his boys or steer them in a different direction says a couple of things about his parenting.
1. There was no real relationship there. Apparently, Eli didn’t know his boys and turned a blind eye whenever they did things that weren’t right. His children didn’t respect their father.
2. Did Eli pass on the story of God’s involvement with his people to them, and their role in that story. It appears that Eli’s boys weren’t familiar with God or his commands.
3. We don’t know much about Eli or his family. But, we do know that somewhere along the way, his boys missed out on valuable teaching time, mentoring with their father.
4. Eli’s son’s sinful activity had caused a stir among the Israelites. Sinfulness doesn’t stay hidden. Everyone knew that Eli the priest’s boys were wicked.

To me, as a minster and a daddy when I read this narrative I hurt for Eli. I don’t want my children growing up living a duplicitous life, and people wondering why their parents didn’t teach them better. Our relationships with our children are a precious gift, each day is an opportunity to mold and mentor them. One day, they will go off to college, get married, move out, whatever, will the time we’ve spent with them, and the life we’ve modeled for them be enough to spring board them into adulthood? I pray that it is, and like Hannah may we learn the value of pouring out our hearts to the Lord in good times and in bad times.

About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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