I’ve written several articles about the parent that has tried hard to teach their children right and tried to present a good example of what their children should be like. But there are many times when families watch their children go in all the wrong directions and know that they are following the very example that they have observed in the parents life.
David was a great man of God. He had a heart like
God’s . He was the greatest king that ever reigned over Israel. He was the writer of so many of the Psalms that still inspire us today. But as a parent David was a failure. I’m sure that much of the fault lay in the fact he had so many different wives and the conflict between the children with different mothers. But it also had a lot to do with his failure to correct the children when they did wrong.
When Amnon raped his half sister Tamar David was angry about it but did nothing. I’m sure that had a lot do with Absalom determining to take revenge into his own hands and murdering his half brother Amnon for what he did to his sister.
More than the failure of discipline was the problem of an extremely poor moral example. When the army was gone off to do battle for the kingdom David stayed at home and was on the roof top looking around when he saw a woman bathing. He called a servant to find out who it was and learned that it was Bathsheba the wife of Uriah one of his soldiers. One would have thought that David would have stopped at that point and determined to cool his desires. But lust had taken control and he sent for Bathsheba. He committed adultery with her and sent her away. He likely thought it was just a one night fling and no one would be the worse off because of what he had done. But sin has a way of coming back to haunt us.
She came to see David to tell him she was pregnant. David had the opportunity to repent of the sin and plead for forgiveness at that point. Instead he sent for Uriah to come home with the intent of having him go to his house and have sex with his wife so that when the child was born everyone including Uriah would think the child was his. Uriah was too honorable a man to do that. He refused to go to his house and have pleasure with his wife while the rest of the army was on the battlefield risking their lives for the kingdom.
When none of David’s efforts to get him to go to his house worked he sent a message by Uriah’s own hand to Joab the leader of the army to put Uriah in the thick of the battle and then withdraw from him so that he would be killed. He faithfully carried the message and Joab faithfully carried out the mission so Uriah was killed and David took Bathsheba as his wife.
Likely David thought the whole thing was behind him and no one would be the wiser. But sin will find you out. Nathan the prophet came to see him and told him a story of a wealthy man with many sheep living by a poor man with only one ewe lamb that he loved dearly. When guest came to visit the rich man instead of taking one of his sheep from his herd he had his servants to take the one lamb the neighbor had and kill it to serve to his guest. When David heard the story he was enraged and declared the man would surely die. Nathan said, “You are the man.”
When David faced his guilt and repented of the sin God had Nathan to tell him, “your sins are forgiven” but the consequences of the sin will be required of your hand. The child will die. The sword will never depart from your house. You will be driven from the throne and another will have sex with your wives in the sight of all Israel.
Imagine the pain that would drive through his heart when the child died. It was after this that Absalom murdered Amnon. But the worst came when Absalon stole the hearts of all Israel and led a rebellion against his own father driving him from the throne and chasing him across the territory until his army faced the army of David.
When David’s army started to leave for the battle David called the leaders to him and made one request, “Deal gently with the young man Absalom.” David knew his sin was still having its consequences all these years later. When the armies met, Absalom’s mule ran under a branch and his head was caught in the tree and he was left hanging from the tree limb. A soldier ran to Joab to tell him he had seen Absalom hanging from a tree. Joab asked if he had killed him and he said he hadn’t because of what he had heard David say. Joab gathered men around him and they took turns driving swords and spears through Absalom. Then he was buried beneath a pile of stones.
When a soldier was sent to give David the message, the first thing David asked was “Is the young man Absalom safe?” The soldier answered, “I would to God that all my lord’s enemies were even as Absalom.” The agonizing cry of David was “Oh Absalom, my son, my son. Oh Absalom my son. I would to God I had died for you Oh Absalom my son.”
Certainly the agony was there because of the loss of his son in death and the tragic way he had died trying to kill his father so he would be the new king. But more agony was there because David knew it had a whole lot to do with the sin he had committed years before with Bathsheba and against Uriah.
Sometimes we are like David, good people, devoted to God and as a whole our lives have been faithful to the Lord. But we know that we made some tragic mistakes in bringing up our children and that some of what is wrong today is the way we lived when they were growing up.
Time and again I’ve listened as godly mothers and dads have talked through the tears about how their children are living just like we raised them to live when they were growing up. The couple had turned to God and repented of every sin in their older years but while their children were home they didn’t have time for God or church. They were too busy going to the lake or working to have the money they thought they had to have, to give time for worship or study of God’s word. Now they wish they had done differently but every time they talk to their children about God or church they become upset and say that they want to be left alone. They may like them find time for such things when they are older but now they don’t have the time.
What is a parent to do when they know that much of what is going wrong with their children was learned from them? First of all, be a good example now. You can’t undo what is past but you can show by your life what is important now and your present influence will have affect in time. Second, be considerate of your children where they are and don’t come across as holier than thou at this point. Love them as God loved you when you were still in sin. Third pray for them often. Fourth, talk with them positively of what is going on in your life of faith now and how you are blessed by God, church, worship and fellowship with other Christians. Fifth remember that it takes time for a seed to germinate and that God keeps on working in the hearts of people long after we’ve gone on to be with him.
Many years ago I knew a lady who was baptized in her 80’s. She had not been interested in God early in life when she was raising her children but now wanted to be a godly example. She lived several more years after her baptism and was faithful to God throughout them. During her life time none of her family showed any interest and she died thinking that she had been unable to influence them for God. A few months after her death I baptized her daughter who was then about 70 years old. In time her son was baptized as well. I just completed a meeting with the church where this happened and the events I’ve described happened over 40 years ago. Today in that church a grandson is a deacon. Other grandchildren and great grandchildren are active members of the church serving and working to make the church stronger. We never know what our influence will accomplish after we’ve gone home to be with God.