God had instituted judges for Israel to provide guidance to the people, before there were any kings. The last two judges were Eli and Samuel, who lived their entire lives dedicated to the service of the Lord. Interestingly enough, they both had wayward sons who needed the discipline of their father.
Eli’s two sons were Phinehas and Hophni, who were priests who committed evil deeds. Their sins were greed and immorality. They committed these sins very brazenly and boldly, in public at the temple. One could not accuse them of hypocrisy, because they didn’t put up an appearance of godliness. Everyone knew they were doing evil, even their father Eli.
Phinehas and Hophni were not afraid to do whatever they wanted, probably because they grew up with a father who did not punish them when they did wrong. One sin after another, getting more and more egregious, and still no punishment from dad.
Eli loved them as a father, and tried to reason with them. However, he should have rebuked them as a judge that had the duty and responsibility of enforcing God’s laws, in order to keep the people sanctified and holy.
When God had enough, he said the below to Samuel, whom Eli was raising as his adopted son.
Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family, from beginning to end. I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.” 1 Samuel 3:11-14 NLT.
In the end, Eli’s sons were killed in a battle at Aphek. When Eli heard that his sons were dead, and the Ark of the Covenant had been taken by the Philistines, he fell off his chair, broke his neck and died.
Samuel, a child whom Eli had also raised, but who did not choose the path that Eli’s own sons had chosen, became judge over Israel.
This true story provides us parents some insight about discipline.
- It is our job as parents to discipline our children when they misbehave.
- If we don’t discipline our children, God will not only discipline our children, but us parents as well.
- The parent’s sins (in this case the failure to discipline our children) will ultimately harm our children.
- Our parenting sins can have a large impact on others (in this case The Ark of the Covenant was lost).
- We should have a healthy fear of what God might do, if we don’t discipline our children.
In scripture, God tells us parents 1.5 times more about discipline, than love. This is probably because God knew it would be easier for us to love our children, then to discipline them.
Are you parenting the way God would want? Check out these verses on parental discipline.
Also check out our new parenting seminar to see what the Bible says about loving and disciplining our children.