Summary: How is the Christian father to carry out his responsibilities

Introductory Considerations

1. Passage from 1 Samuel not one we feel comfortable with. It is downright frightening, especially to those of us who are parents - a story of disobedient children who ignore their father’s scolding and as a result God severely punishes both them and their father - death to all of them.

2. Are we responsible for their disobedience? Will God punish us as a result?

3. Today is Father’s Day - a day in which we remember our fathers and give thanks to God for them and a day to reflect upon our role as fathers.

4 While passage relates to all parents, it especially does so to fathers who have ultimate responsibility for family and their upbringing.

5 Children - listen carefully for it is important to understand the God-given responsibility your parents have in raising you.

6. Bringing up children is a not only difficult but a very personal and sensitive matter - different styles - am I too soft? am I too authoritarian?

7. When the author of a book on child rearing chose the title he did, he had a sense of humour but was sensitive to how draining it can be to raise children - titled his book "Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours"

8. How then are we to raise our children?


1. We begin by looking at Eli and his two sons

a. Eli - son of Ithamar who was the youngest son of Aaron, called by God to be the priests.

b. Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, served as priests in Shiloh, the central place for worshipping God.

c. God had provided for the needs of the priest in Lev 7:31. When anyone brought an offering to the Lord, they were to bring the fat, together with the breast and thigh which were given to the priest.

d. Fat was to be burnt on the altar by the priest - God forbade that anyone eat the fat. (Lev 7:25).

e. They disobeyed God’s word - they had no regard for the Lord - means that they did not maintain a proper relationship with God.

f. Their practice was not to accept the breast and thigh, but instead they plunged a three-pronged fork into the kettle and take for themselves whatever it brought up.

g. They did this before the fat was burnt on the altar - disobey rule about fat and took before sacrifice made to God.

h. If person making sacrifice objected and asked for the servant to wait until the fat was burnt up, they would say, "Hand it over or I will take it by force"

i. Greek Septuagint says that they told the people that they better give the raw meat or they would be sinning against God - this was a lie- instead, the two sons were sinning against God.

j. This sin was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt (1Sam 2:17)

k. Their crime amounted to robbery because they took what belonged to God.

l. They were also sleeping with the women who served the tables at the entrance to the temple (v. 22). The profaned the sanctuary of the Lord.

2. Eli failed as a father.

a. He was not even in touch with what his sons were doing. He heard about their sins from the people in Israel.

i. A father should be aware of what their children are doing, even if they are grown up as his sons were.

ii. Parents can be so busy that they are not aware of what is happening in the lives of their children.

iii. In trying to make their children better off, they fail to make them better .

iv. Are you aware of what is going on in your son’s or daughter’s life? Their struggles? Spend time alone with each of your children?

b. He failed in how he responded.

i. vs. 23-4 shows a feeble response - "no, no Johnny - you should not do that".

ii. He was that he was weak and gave no warning except that God may not intercede to help you in the future.

c. He did not take authority over the matter.

i. He did not outrightly tell his sons to stop profaning the house of the Lord nor take any action against them.

ii. As a father and as the high priest, he had the authority, the right to take away the responsibilities and duties of being priest from them, but he failed to do so.

iii. we must make children take responsibility for their actions.

3. God’s response.

a. It was the Lord’s will to put the sons to death. (vs. 25).

i. Because Eli’s sons have willfully turned against God, He is giving them over to the sin of their hearts and the required punishment for that sin. (see also Rom 1)

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