1 Samuel 2:1-26
1 Samuel 8:1-3
The above Bible texts tell the father-son stories of two men in ancient Israel.
Eli and Samuel were priests, keepers of the law in Israel. They knew God, walked with him, served him. Their faith was evident to all. But as they grow older we see sons who choose a different path. Sons who are wicked, scoundrels, disobedient and disrespectful of God, his temple and his people.
For children of priests, these guys did quite the number.
We see sons who don't walk in the ways of the Lord like their fathers.
Greedy for money
Treated the Lord's offering with contempt
Wouldn't listen to their father- hardened hearts
Wicked- seduced the girls serving at the temple. Sexual abuse, possibly temple prostitution.
Scoundrels with no respect for God or for their duties as priests.
Eli was aware of what his sons were doing. Samuel too was informed by the concerned elders.
What went wrong?
Passing your values to your children is not automatic. Your children won't just become godly because you are godly. God doesn't reward you with godly children because you are a believer. Faith is carefully cultivated and tended even in Christian homes. There is intentional discipleship and training.
* So, children just can't catch faith?
I suppose not. God told the Israelites:
These laws... you shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. Deut 6:7
Samuel's son's sins lead to Israel demanding a king.
While we notice that Eli was a soft dad and Samuel travelled a lot in ministry, we can't authoritatively say they never instructed their children in the fear of God.
I guess when all is said and done, the faith of our children is never guaranteed. We pray and trust that God will call them to himself. Until then, we tend to the soil of their hearts diligently. We do our part.
We instruct them in the ways of our God. We live out our faith before them so they can know what trusting God in all circumstances looks like. We confess our sins along with them so they can understand we too are not perfect but are being sanctified daily. And we pray. We pray for their young faith. We pray for the schools they will attend, the teachers they have, the friends they will make. We pray for their future spouses, their children and the churches they will attend, that these will draw them closer to God rather than away or to apostasy. When we have done all we can, we pray and trust in the God who made them to fulfill his purposes for them.