Summary: The Life of Samuel, Part 2 of 5.
DARE TO DISCIPLINE (1 SAM. 2:12-36)
The new millennium brought out the worst in parenting, and no parenting method was criticized more harshly than that of captured American Taliban, John Lindh Walker. When Lindh Walker was 10, the family from Washington State moved to socially liberal Marin County, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. John’s father, Frank Lindh, is a lawyer and his mother, Mary Walker, is a home health care worker who dabbled in Buddhism.
Young John never quite adjusted to the environment. He moved painfully from private school to private school, from private schools to public schools, from pubic schools to home school, and then back to high school for graduation. The developments at home were fast and furious. Frank announced that he was gay in 1998, and the parents divorced in 1999. John dropped his father’s surname and used his mother’s maiden name, Walker.
At around that time, John converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdul Hamid, and at 17, he traveled alone to Yemen to immerse himself in his new religion. Frank and Marilyn were roundly criticized for poor parenting and for letting their boy set off for a hostile place overseas without knowing what he was in for. Lindh came home in the spring of 1999, but eight months later, he returned to Yemen, then went to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he was captured fighting for the cause of Islam. Nobody, including his parents, had heard from John Phillip Walker Lindh the 6 months leading to September 11, 2001. As part of his plea agreement, 21-year old Lindh he would receive a maximum 20-year prison term.
A USA TODAY/CNN/ Gallup Poll before the agreement found that 60% of respondents disagree with the Justice Department’s decision not to charge Lindh with treason, a crime that carries the death penalty. Only 33% agree with charging him with counts that could send him to prison for life if convicted. Young people and women are especially unmoved by the defense of his parents and lawyer. 70% of 18- to 29-year-olds say Lindh should have been charged with treason, compared with 52% of those over age 50. Only 28% of women agree with the prosecutors’ decision, compared with 38% of men. (USA Today 1/28/02 & 7/15/02 & Time 10/2/02 “The Making of John Lindh Walker”)
The era of the Judges was bad, but the sons of Eli were worse. They did the most beastly things, the most unspeakable and regretful things in the temple. They forced themselves upon the meat in the temple, the ladies at the temple, and the goodwill of the worshippers. God’s people were abused, God’s place was desecrated, and God’s provisions were stolen.
How did Eli the father miss the signs? Why did he not do more? What is the privilege and responsibility of parenthood? What happens when discipline is slack, missing, or ignored in the family?
Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child
22 Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 23 So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the LORD’s people. 25 If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?" His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death. 26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men. (1 Sam 2:22-26)
The most fundamental and important service godly parents can render to God is to raise godly children, to impact their lives, and to ready them for responsibilities.
One of the most terrific mothers of all time was Susannah Wesley. Susannah’s father was a minister and she was born in England in 1669 as the youngest of twenty-five children! Susannah was married at 19 to Samuel Wesley, a minister and, not to be outdone, she had nineteen children herself. Her husband was always away attending church meetings and planting new churches, so the responsibility of raising kids was hers. She always wanted to do big things for God but her biggest contribution unquestionably was raising children to serve God. Her two sons, John and Charles Wesley, practically changed the world. John was the founder of the Methodist movement and composer Charles was probably the finest hymn-writer, musician and composer of all-time in England. His songs included such classics for Easter such as "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," for Christmas such as "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing," and for Sundays such as "Rejoice, the Lord is King."