Monday, May 9, 2016

Raising Children

4 True humility and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honor, and long life. 5 Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it. 6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. . . . 15 A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away. Proverbs 22:4-6, 15 (NLT)

Fatherhood is a common feature of the First and Second Samuel. With the exception of Elkanah (Samuel’s father) (1 Samuel 1:1, 3, 19-20), the Old Testament books of Samuel never depicts fathers positively.[1] The children of the great leaders in First and Second Samuel turn out to be either scoundrels or worthless men. Jonathan is the single exceptions; in his case, the father, Saul, turns out to be the one who is depraved and utterly corrupt.[2]

First Samuel opens with the faithful worship of Samuel’s father and mother, Elkanah and Hannah (1 Samuel 1 and 2). Despite the decline of worship in Israel, Samuel’s parents persistently and faithfully lived righteously and worshiped God from their heart (1 Samuel 1:13, 15, 19).[3] Samuel of the Old Testament was one of Israel’s greatest prophets and judges (1 Samuel 3:1, 19-21; 1 Samuel 7:6, 15; see also Acts 13:20; Hebrews 11:32-33). From a young age, the LORD God was with Samuel, and he grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (1 Samuel 2:21, 26; see also Luke 2:52). His mother Hannah dedicated Samuel as a young child to God’s service and brought young Samuel to the Tabernacle at Shiloh to be trained by Israel’s high priest, Eli (1 Samuel 1:11, 26-28, 1 Samuel 2:11; 1 Samuel 3:1). While still a boy, Samuel heard God speak (1 Samuel 3:1, 10).

As Israel’s priest and judge, Eli was a faithful man of God but he did not properly train his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas (see 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 2:12-29; 1 Samuel 3:13; 1 Samuel 4:18). Hophni and Phinehas were wicked men and did continual evil in God’s sight (1 Samuel 2:17, 25). While at Shiloh, Samuel witnessed Eli’s failures as a parent with his wickded sons, Hophni and Phinehas (1 Samuel 2:12-36). God held Eli responsible for his sons’ disgraceful behavior at the Tabernacle.[4] Eli rebuked Hophni and Phinehas, but he “failed to restrain them” (1 Samuel 2:23-25, 3:13). Eventually, God appointed Samuel to lead Israel after Eli, Hophni and Phinehas’s death (1 Samuel 4:10-11, 12-18; see also 1 Samuel 3:19-21). Samuel faithfully led Israel (1 Samuel 7:15-17) and sought the LORD God’s guidance in prayer as Israel’s leader (1 Samuel 8:6). Under Samuel’s faithful leadership, the land of Israel enjoyed peace from its enemies (1 Samuel 7:13-14).

As Samuel grew old, he retired and appointed his oldest sons, Joel and Abijah, as judges over Israel (1 Samuel 8:1-2). Joel and Abijah held court in Beersheba, but they were not like their faithful father, Samuel (1 Samuel 8:2-3). Similar to Hophni and Phinehas (1 Samuel 2:12-13), these two brothers were greedy and worthless men and not did not faithfully follow the ways of the LORD God (1 Samuel 8:3, 5; see also Philippians 3:17-19). Joel and Abijah accepted bribes from people and perverted justice (1 Samuel 8:3; see also Exodus 23:2).

Finally, the leaders of Israel met in Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel (1 Samuel 8:4). The leaders informed Samuel that since his retirement matters in Israel had not been the same, for his sons, Joel and Abijah, were not good men and leaders like him (1 Samuel 8:4-5). Joel and Abijah’s failures led Israel’s leaders to ask and plead with Samuel for a king like all the other nations (see 1 Samuel 8:5, 19-20). Like Eli, Samuel failed to train Joel and Abijah in the ways of God.

The Holy Scriptures gives readers little insight into Eli and Samuel’s home life, but the disobedience and wickedness of their sons are evident in the pages of Scripture.[5] Many tasks are valuable and important, but nothing is more than important teaching our families to faithfully love, honor, and obey God (see Matthew 22:34-40). Godly parenthood means devoting prime time to loving and training children to wholeheartedly love God and faithfully follow God’s righteous ways (Deuteronomy 6:4-7; see also Proverbs 22:6; Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 6:4). As parents, we have a responsibility to train and lead our children how to live right before God, and to grow and mature spiritually, morally, and ethically (Proverbs 22:6; see also Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Deuteronomy 32:46-47; 2 Timothy 3:15-16). Foolishness is tangled up in children’s hearts and parent’ godly discipline and punishment drive foolhardiness away from their children (Proverbs 22:15; see also Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 23:13-14, Proverbs 29:15). Honoring God means teaching our children to love and obey God (1 Samuel 2:29-30).

As Christians and particularly church leaders, parents have an obligation to bring their children up with the loving discipline the LORD God approves (Ephesians 6:4; see also Genesis 18:19; Colossians 3:21). We are not to continual rebuke and nag our children as such actions can make children angry, discouraged, and resentful (Ephesians 6:4). If parents are always blaming and never praising, children will lose heart (Colossians 3:21). Rather than nagging and arbitrarily asserting our authority, the Holy Scriptures instruct parents prayerfully and consistently to train and discipline our children but with love (see Proverbs 1:8-9). Training our children means a combination of instruction, encouragement, discipline, and personal guidance according to the LORD God’s ways and NOT the ways of the world (see 2 Timothy 3:15-17).[6] The overwhelming emphasis of the Old Testament book of Proverbs is on verbal encouragement and teaching of children.[7] The entire book of Proverbs is framed as a father and mother’s instructions to his son, teaching him the “facts of life” according to God’s righteous ways (e.g., see Proverbs 1:8-11; Proverbs 31:1-3).[8] Undisciplined and untrained children are often rebels.

 “The rod of discipline” stands for all forms of discipline or training (Proverbs 22:15; see also Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 23:13-14).[9] Just as God trains and corrects us to make us better, so Christian parents must discipline their children to walk the right path and learn the difference between right and wrong (see Proverbs 3:11-12; see also Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 3:19). Yet, parents are NEVER to use their authority to abuse the child, but to fairly encourage and lead their children in the ways of God and this training also includes not showing favoritism within the home. Christians must assure they are disciplining their children in love and NOT IN ANGER, for fear that we injure either the body or the spirit of the child, or possibly both![10] “Flying off the handle” never made either a better child or a better parent.[11]

To help with training our children, Christian parents need to seek God’s guidance in prayer so they can be sensitive to the needs and problems of their children.[12] It is not enough to nurture our children physically by providing food, shelter, and clothing.[13] We must also nurture and train our children emotionally and spiritually to choose the God’s righteous and just ways (see Genesis 18:19; Micah 6:6-8).[14] God looks to the parents for the kind of training that the children need (see Proverbs 13:24).[15] Parents are responsible for providing religious and moral instruction for their sons and daughters.[16]

One of the most important things parents can do is spend time with their children and listen to them.[17] As the great theologian Warren Wiersbe said, “A listening ear and a loving heart always go together.” Life is not easy for children, especially Christian children. Christian parents must listen carefully, sharing the feelings and frustrations of their children, praying with them, and seeking to encourage them. Moreover, Christian parents must help their children develop their personalities, their gifts, and their skills. Every child has special gifts and talents from God. Parents are to discern and understand the unique way God has created their children – children’s individuality and inclinations – and nurture them accordingly.[18] Moreover, our home must be a place of encouragement and warmth for children.[19] Discouraged children are fair prey for Satan and the world.[20] When parents neglect these important tasks, God is forgotten, values become corrupt, and society as a whole suffers decline (see Deuteronomy 6:1-10).[21] If a home is truly Christian, it is a place of encouragement, openness, and love but also a refuge to find strength to fight the battles and carry the burdens of growing maturity (e.g., see 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 10-12). A child should find a loving heart, a watching eye, a listening ear, and a helping hand at home.[22] Children who grow up in a godly environment where God's truths are modeled and where they are encouraged to live according to God's ways will likely end up embracing those values and living by them into adulthood.[23]

Critics often point to verses like Proverbs 13:24 as examples of cruelty and abuse of children (see also Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13-14; Proverbs 29:15, 17). However, critics must understand these verses in the broader context of Proverb’s teaching about discipline.[24] The goal of discipline is instruction, encouragement, and loving guidance, as well as physical or corporal punishment to change a child’s attitude or behavior to follow the ways of God (Proverbs 3:3-7). Godly parental discipline should always be corrective in nature, never vindictive and abusive.[25] The book of Proverbs also recognizes that children do not, by nature, gravitate toward God’s wisdom and order, and that left to themselves children will move toward folly and self-destruction (Proverbs 22:15). It is not easy for a loving parent to discipline a child, but it is necessary to nurture and guide our children (Proverbs 13:24; see also Proverbs 23:13).[26]

Disciple's Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible, 1988).
Life Application Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005).
Life Essentials Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2011).
Faithlife Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012).
KJV Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994).
The New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
The Apologetics Study Bible: Understanding Why You Believe (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2012).
The Holy Bible NIV 2011 (Grand Rapids, MI: Biblica, 2011).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament  and New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).

[1] Faithlife Study Bible
[2] Faithlife Study Bible
[3] KJV Bible Commentary
[4] The New Student Bible
[5] Disciple's Study Bible
[6] Disciple's Study Bible
[7] The New Student Bible
[8] The New Student Bible
[9] Life Application Study Bible
[10] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[11] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[12] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[13] Disciple's Study Bible
[14] Life Application Study Bible
[15] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[16] Disciple's Study Bible
[17] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[18] Life Essentials Study Bible
[19] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[20] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[21] Disciple's Study Bible
[22] Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament
[23] The Apologetics Study Bible: Understanding Why You Believe
[24] The Apologetics Study Bible: Understanding Why You Believe
[25] Disciple's Study Bible
[26] Life Application Study Bible

No comments:

Post a Comment

God bless you! You are loved by God (Romans 5:5).