A PARENT’S GREATEST HEARTACHE

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 2:12-17

“Now the sons of Eli were worthies men. They did not know the Lord.” (I Samuel 2:12)

Children can be a source of great blessing. They can also be the cause of untold heartache and pain. The greatest tragedy for any parent is to lose one’s children spiritually. This was the case with Eli. He lost his sons spiritually and eventually he lost them physically.

Eli was the priest at Shiloh. He had two sons who were also priests — Hophni and Phinehas. They were a great disappointment to their father. They served as priests during the period of the judges, which was known as “the dark ages of Israel.” The last verse of Judges sums up the spiritual state of Israel at that time — “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Such was the case with the sons of Eli. They are described as “worthless men.” The saddest thing is that they did not know the Lord. This is difficult to understand. They were sons of a priest and they were active, serving as priests themselves. Yet they did not know the Lord. What is even more troubling is that they were defiling worship — “Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt” (v. 17).

As we read on, we see that the sons of Eli were also adulterers — “Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting” (v. 22). We can easily see why Hophni and Phinehas were described as “worthless men.”

How can we explain the way Eli’s sons became so much of a disappointment to their father? Part of the problem was the way Eli parented them as we will see. The family lived in a spiritually depraved period of Israel’s history. Whatever the reasons were, the sons of Eli serve as an example of children who can break their parent’s heart. This is why we need to stay on our knees in prayer for our children and grandchildren.

Lord God, I pray for the spiritual health and growth of my children and grandchildren. I pray that they grow in their faith. I am so thankful that all my children are walking with You and that they are seeking to raise their children to love and serve You as well. These are spiritually depraved times and things will get worse. I especially pray for spiritual protection for my grandchildren. May they all come to a saving faith in Your Son, Jesus and may they honor Him all the days of their lives.

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