1 Samuel 3:10 Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”
Samuel was a young man just beginning his calling as a priest in the temple of the Lord. Eli was Samuel’s elderly mentor who, though personally faithful in his own tasks as a priest, failed to hold his two sons accountable for their despicable behavior (v.12-13).
If Eli weren’t a priest his sons’ shenanigans might not have been such a big deal to God. But in ancient Israel the priesthood was a hereditary thing, which means each father would have been required to teach his sons to be faithful priests. In this Eli had failed. His sons essentially robbed from God and from the people they were called to serve.
I am not a priest, but I am a father to three young adult children. And I expect that, in the day when I face the Lord and give an account of my life, I’ll be asked about my role as father. How did I do? What will I say?
An interesting thing about being a parent is how long it can take to see the fruit of one’s efforts. Particularly during the teenage years, it can get scary. It’s hard not to over-react when our children look like they’re going off a cliff. Yet as they’re now in their 20s and growing more fully into adulthood, it amazes me how much they DID learn. And knowing that I made many, many mistakes as a father (you don’t really get to practice first) I can see how the hand of God has been on my children – and me as a father.
Lord thank you for the grace you pour out on parents, despite the fact we don’t always get it right. Lead us in the way that we should go and give us grace to follow. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.