As we drill into 7 different sins from parents in the Bible, I hope that these will serve as guard rails for us as we raise our children not to make us feel weighed down, but rather to free us to do what is right without caring what others think about our decisions because we are seeking to follow God’s leading in the way we raise our children.
In this final blog in our series on the sins of parents in the Bible we turn to one of the greatest leaders in the Bible - King David.
David receives the high accolade from the Lord that he is a man after God’s own heart. When David desires to build a temple for the Lord, the Lord instead promises to build his house. David then ploughs his whole personal fortune into the building of the temple.
So important was King David in the history of Israel that the Messiah had to come from the line of king David. In spite of the sins of later kings in Judah, God delays sending them into exile all for the sake of his servant David. This blessing continues for several hundred years before the people finally receive the consequences of their sin and are sent into exile.
That is quite a legacy. So why has David made it on to our list of parents who in some way failed their children?
Is it because of his famous moment of weakness that led to adultery and murder? No. God’s grace covered that (thought there were consequences for his reign). King David makes it onto our list purely because of his parenting.
Some would argue that David was too soft on his children and did not want to discipline them. I can see that this could be a point of discussion, but I think this is clearly illustrated in the first part of this series – the sin of Eli.
No, David’s sin is this: He failed to pass on his faith effectively to his children.
King Solomon, his son, had everything (and I mean literally everything) handed to him on a plate. He took on a secure and stable kingdom that was wealthy and respected by all. King Solomon knew the enormity of the task and hence made his first request to God to be for wisdom. He became known as the wisest king in all the world, in all of history.
Yet King Solomon directly disobeyed God. He took many wives and concubines in direct contravention of God’s commands to the kings of Israel Much of this was probably for political reasons, to form alliances with other nations, but that is precisely the point. He trusted in alliances with man, rather than seeking to forge an alliance with God. He depended on his own ability rather than following in the footsteps of his father and depending entirely on the Lord.
As well as taking multiple wives, he also used horses and stockpiled wealth. The Lord only gave 3 commandments to the kings (Deuteronomy 17:16-17) and Solomon broke all three. As the Lord predicted he was led astray. In spite of seeing the favour of God and the example of his father, Solomon did not grow in the fear of the Lord.
It may seem harsh to put the blame at the foot of David for Solomon’s disobedience but I wonder what more David could have done. He had many children and many wives too so his example was not pure, yet there is grace with God.
It seems he did not intentionally raise his children with the fear of the Lord, rather he hope they would catch it by osmosis. I say this because David appears to have a more hands-off role with his children, rather than a direct instructional role as their father.
David gave them opportunities to flourish as leaders, raising them up to be officials by his side (1 Chronicles 18:17) but there is no mention of him instructing them in the way of the Lord. Perhaps in his business he delegated role to his wives and servants, yet he still found time to mentor them as officials around his table.
As parents we are called to be intentional in the way we pass on our faith to our children. David knew this – he knew the law and understood that Deuteronomy 6 gave him this responsibility. It seems that he assumed they would see the Lord through his life of devotion rather than explicitly mentoring them. 2 Samuel 13 gives an insight into David’s response in a crisis – he loves his children, but he is angered by their actions, yet he fails to bring resolution and to draw his children to repentance for their actions.
If we are to learn one lesson from David it is that we must be intentional. We cannot hope that by bringing our children to church they will know the Lord or because we serve faithfully, they will too. Of course, our example in these things matter and being part of a community of faith is key for their faith development but we must also pass on our faith directly and repeatedly to them.
You may be thinking if David got it wrong what hope is there for me. If Eli, Hezekiah, Abraham, Samuel and Jacob struggled in their time, how can I pass on my faith effectively in our society which embodies a culture in direct opposition to the kingdom of God. Through this series we have looked at the lives of famous, godly people who desired to serve the Lord, yet came short when it came to their parenting. We can see what many people did wrong, but the Lord has also made clear what we can do right.
He has not left us guessing as to what we should do, instead he has clearly spelt out how we can and should pass on our faith to our children. You can see some practical ways of intentionally passing on your faith, based in the principles of Scripture, in our book, At Home with God.