I had intended to start writing in Genesis at the obvious beginning of the family, but my readings the last few months have brought me through these later Bible history books.
God addresses himself throughout His Word as the God of the Hebrew forefathers– Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And this same biblical historical record is so full of trans-generational failure and blatant refusal to follow the God of “our fathers.”
The book of Judges records over and over again that, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Samson was no exception. His birth was announced to his parents by an angel of God and his mother took the Nazirite vow in Samson’s stead before his birth to prepare him for the life of service to God intended for him. But Samson did not know God the way that his parents had. He also did as he pleased and God allowed him to be taken captive by the people he was to judge in order to get his attention. In the end, Samson had made such a mess of his life that he had to sacrifice himself to accomplish what God had called him to do before he was born. I have always wondered how God would have used Samson had Samson been like David– a man after God’s own heart.
“But [Samson] did not know that the Lord had left him.” Judges 16:20b
Eli was a priest in God’s service but, “Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:12
Then God raised up Samuel to serve in the priesthood and later he appointed his two sons, Joel and Abijah, to judge in Israel. “But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.” 1 Samuel 8:3
David lived his life so that God himself described him as a man after God’s own heart. He had many sons who saw and heard about their father’s life and God. But David’s sons did not follow God as David had. Even Solomon who pleased God by asking for wisdom and who built the Temple where God would put His name, “…did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.” 1 Kings 11:6
There is so much more to the ministry of home than just living the life in front of our children and bringing them to church. David wrote the biggest book right in the center of the Bible and his sons did not follow God. What are the intricacies of raising children in the fear and admonition of the Lord? How does one raise a child in the way he should go, so that when he is old he does not depart from it? There may not be one exact answer that will work for every child, but the lesson from the judges, priests and kings is obvious… God has to be the personal God of each child. It is not enough for them to try to serve the God of their parents, no matter how much their parents love and serve God.