1 Samuel 2:27-35 – Discipline Is Often the Best but Most Difficult Way We Show Love to Our Children

Posted: November 26, 2017 in 09-1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 2:27-35


A Warning for Eli’s Family


 Have you ever been somewhere, a family gathering, a public place, anywhere, where there are those parents who are like hippy-dippy shrub huggers that believe that their child should be allowed to “find their own way” and “freely express themselves”. We’ve all seen it. Kids with no discipline running amuk, tearing things up and doing things with no consequences. It kind of reminds me of when I was married to my second wife. When I married her in 1995, I inherited her three boys ranging in age from 3 to 10 years old.




Before they came into my life, they had apparently been “free range” kids. Never had they suffered any real consequences for bad behavior. I should have figured it out from the day my second wife moved in together a little less than a year before we were married. One of the ways that discipline was enforced on me by my parents was at the dinner table. First, all four of us sat at the table. Second, we were required to have good manners (because to my dad, the family meal was an event not just something you do and as he always said, “how you act at the dinner table is how you will act when we go out to eat, have good manners!). Fourth, and most importantly, you ate what was put on the table or you will go hungry.




I raised my children the same way, especially that last part, the eating what was put in front of you. When I was growing up, if you didn’t eat what was put on your plate you sat there until you did. I remember battles of wills with my dad and, of course, dad won. Mom was not a short order cook according to Dad. You ate what she fixed or you sit at the dinner table until you did. I raised my girls the same way. Sure, there were a few battles here and there about it, but over time, the girls would quietly eat whatever was placed in front of them. Discipline starts at the dinner table, I always have said.




The reason that became a phrase that rang true was that thing I should have noticed the very first time that it was dinner time after my second wife and I moved into together. It was dinner time. She fixed me a grown-up meal but she fixed her youngest son some chicken nuggets or such. She didn’t even make the two older boys come in for dinner at the specified dinner time. Her youngest son was allowed to eat his meal on the floor in front of the television and then he didn’t eat but maybe half of his meal before he wanted to get up and go play. When I told him that he needed to eat everything on his plate, everything, before he could go out and play, it was as if the world had ended. He had never been told that before. And the woman who would become my second wife acted as if I had crossed a boundary. I should have known right then what I was in for. The lack of discipline at family meals about food and about how you acted at the table was the tip of the iceberg with what I had to deal with when it came to those boys. They were completely undisciplined and had always been able to negotiate their way out of trouble with their mom and the dinner table was no different. The dinner table was just an indication of how discipline was handled. Growling about behavior. Punishment stated. Children wining incessantly until they negotiated their way out of trouble. Relenting by their mom (even if in contradiction to me). And misbehavior ultimately not punished. As you might expect, the boys ended being discipline problems even through the teenage years and into adulthood. I must say the oldest though began to catch on about why I was tough on them mid-day through his junior year in high school. However, he was taken from us too soon in the middle of that junior year in a car accident. The middle boy did not really begin to catch on until he had a child of his own. The youngest is still having difficulty learning self-discipline.




That whole concept of disciplining your children and sticking by your guns and how that even extends to the dinner table was what I thought of when I read this passage this morning, 1 Samuel 2:27-35:




27 One day a man of God came to Eli and gave him this message from the Lord: “I revealed myself[a] to your ancestors when they were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. 28 I chose your ancestor Aaron[b] from among all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer sacrifices on my altar, to burn incense, and to wear the priestly vest[c] as he served me. And I assigned the sacrificial offerings to you priests. 29 So why do you scorn my sacrifices and offerings? Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me—for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel!




30 “Therefore, the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi[d] would always be my priests. But I will honor those who honor me, and I will despise those who think lightly of me. 31 The time is coming when I will put an end to your family, so it will no longer serve as my priests. All the members of your family will die before their time. None will reach old age. 32 You will watch with envy as I pour out prosperity on the people of Israel. But no members of your family will ever live out their days. 33 The few not cut off from serving at my altar will survive, but only so their eyes can go blind and their hearts break, and their children will die a violent death.[e] 34 And to prove that what I have said will come true, I will cause your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, to die on the same day!




35 “Then I will raise up a faithful priest who will serve me and do what I desire. I will establish his family, and they will be priests to my anointed kings forever. 36 Then all of your surviving family will bow before him, begging for money and food. ‘Please,’ they will say, ‘give us jobs among the priests so we will have enough to eat.’”




From this passage, we see that Eli apparently had a difficult time rearing his sons. He apparently did not take any strong disciplinary action with the when he became aware of any of their wrongdoings. But Eli was not just a father ignoring the bad behavior of his kids, he was the high priest who was ignoring the sins of his sons, assistant priests, under his jurisdiction. As a result, the Lord took disciplinary action himself. He took action when the earthly father would not. Eli was guilty of honoring his sons desires about God by letting them continue with their sinful ways.




When we are parents, the thing that we have to remember is that we are not put here to be our children’s best friend. It is long hard work with no appreciation. It is being tough when it is easier to give in. It is standing your ground no matter how much the kids whine or no matter how many times they say they hate you. You are here to raise them into responsible adulthood (and even then it does not guarantee that they will make the right choices in life after they leave home). You are here to raise them in such a way that they will be able to make it on their own in life and not expect everyone to make exceptions for them. Not expect to whine their way out of trouble. The world doesn’t care about the excuses that you have for why you did something wrong or why you failed at something. We, as parents, must remember that we are showing love to our kids when we take the hard line and discipline them, especially when they are young and cute and cuddly. Discipline starts when kids are very young. Discipline starts at the dinner table. Discipline is what we are here for when it comes to our kids. You want them to grow up to be productive citizens and can take care of themselves. You want you children to realize that they world doesn’t think they are the cat’s meow and be able to get up when they get knocked down and dust themselves off and get back at living their life and taking care their own family. Discipline is the greatest act of love that a parent can show their child.




It is the same way with God. When He disciplines us by allowing our actions and their consequences play themselves out as punishment to us, He is showing us love. He wants us to understand that a life of sinful behavior will only destroy us. The discipline of consequences is God’s way of showing us what happens when we do not pursue an obedient relationship with Him. He even gives us an instruction book on how we are to honor Him with our lives – The Bible. He even went as far as providing us with Jesus Christ as the way to reconcile ourselves to Him after our sin casts us away from being near Him. He loves us but so very much but He does discipline us. Discipline is how He often shows us His love.




Amen and Amen.


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