Summary: Every discipline situation is a setting for discipleship.

Discipline That Disciples

1 Samuel 2:12-36

Rev. Brian Bill


A week ago our oldest daughter Emily graduated from college and two days ago Lydia graduated from high school. This has been an exciting and emotional time for us. Well, at least for me because I think I’ve cried more than the rest of the family combined.

During Emily’s graduation which was held at historic Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, all the professors marched in wearing their respective robes with an air of decorum. Pomp and Circumstance was played while the graduates walked to the front. A trumpet player filled the sanctuary with joyful sounds, someone led in prayer and then a speaker challenged the students. Author Gary Chapman was awarded an Honorary Doctorate and then the choir sang, “Be Thou My Vision.”

When it came time to announce the graduates, one of the Vice Presidents drew our attention to a statement in the middle of the program: “The graduating class, faculty and administration request that family and friends respect the dignity of the occasion and refrain from applause or celebration until all graduates have received their diplomas.” He explained how it’s not fair to the next student who is announced when people are yelling and cheering. He must have made his point three or four times. From all appearances, the message was loud and clear.

When the first few graduates were announced the massive room was quiet and then from the back of the auditorium applause and cheering broke out after a name was read. We all held our breath, wondering what was going to be said from the front. When correction never came, it was as if the rest of the crowd felt free to cheer wildly for their favorite grad. From then on, it was like a free-for-all, with people yelling, cheering, and making all sorts of sounds. As I sat up in the balcony I secretly judged all the rule-breaking cheerleaders but that was nothing like the thoughts I had about the administration for not providing additional correction. That all went away when Emily’s name was called and I jumped to my feet and started hollering…just kidding.

As we continue in our series called, “Hope for the Home: Learning from the Families in the Bible,” our topic today is “Discipline that Disciples.” Please turn in your Bibles to 1 Samuel 2 where we will see what happened when two rule-breaking sons were allowed to live wildly without any correction from their father. We’ll discover that passive parenting often leads to disastrous results. One of Dobson’s books is entitled, “Parenting Isn’t For Cowards.” Man, is that ever true! As I studied this week, and tried to summarize what I learned in one sentence, I wrote this down: Every discipline situation is a setting for discipleship.

Let me introduce you to a dad named Eli. He was a priest and a judge, well-respected by everyone. He had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who also served as priests but were more profane than spiritual. Look at 1 Samuel 2:12: “Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord.” They knew about the Lord but they didn’t know Him personally. They had holy jobs but their hearts were far from Him. They went through the motions but God didn’t matter to them. When people brought animals for the offering, these brothers demanded the choicest cuts; if filet mignon wasn’t given to them, they would take it by force. On top of that, verse 22 tells us that they slept with the women who served at the Tent of Meeting.

Eli knew that people were talking about his sons in verse 24: “No my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the Lord’s people.” While he did try to rebuke them, they refused to listen. Unfortunately, all Eli did was talk with them when he should have removed them from their position. His sin was not having bad children but instead that he raised them inactively, parented them passively and excused them meekly. I was impressed by the story of an Amish man who caught his two teenage sons drinking beer at a local tavern. The disappointed father promptly disciplined them. This is what he said, “I’ll take the horse home boys…and you bring the buggy.”

This story ends badly when God has the two sons put to death and Eli ends up falling off a chair, breaks his neck and dies. In 1 Kings 1:6, we see that King David didn’t do discipline well with his son Adonijah either: “His father had never interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’” Actually, children do what they are allowed to get away with.

Every discipline situation is a setting for discipleship. Parents, we’re called to discipline our children because it is part of our discipleship…and theirs. And actually, believe it or not, kids want to be disciplined. In the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom didn’t have parents, but he had Aunt Polly. One day, Aunt Polly disciplines Tom by spanking him. As Tom wails, Huckleberry Finn is off on the side rolling around laughing. He thought it was great that he wasn’t getting into trouble. But when you turn the page Huck Finn is by himself weeping as he realizes that he doesn’t have anyone who cares enough to discipline him. When a child is not given boundaries, they feel lost.

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