A Fainthearted Father
And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. 1 Samuel 3:14
Eli did not manage his household according to God's rules for family government. He followed his own judgment. . . . Many are now making a similar mistake. They think they know a better way of training their children than that which God has given in His word. They foster wrong tendencies in them, urging as an excuse. "They are too young to be punished. Wait till they become older, and can be reasoned with." Thus wrong habits are left to strengthen until they become second nature. The children grow up without restraint, with traits of character that are a lifelong curse to them and are liable to be reproduced in others.
In contrast with the story of Abraham's faithfulness, and the words of commendation spoken of him, is the record of Eli, who kept his sons in office while they were committing great iniquity. Here is a lesson for all parents. . . . Evil, without restraint, was tolerated by Eli. The result was sin that would not be atoned for, by sacrifice or by offerings, forevermore.
While some err upon the side of undue severity, Eli went to the opposite extreme. . . . Their faults were overlooked in their childhood, and excused in their days of youth. The commands of the parents were disregarded, and the father did not enforce obedience.
The children saw that they could hold the lines of control, and they improved the opportunity. As the sons advanced in years, they lost all respect for their fainthearted father. They went on in sin without restraint. He remonstrated with them, but his words fell unheeded. Gross sins and revolting crimes were daily committed by them, until the Lord Himself visited with judgment the transgressors of His law. . . .
The Lord Himself decreed that for the sins of Eli's sons no atonement should be made by sacrifice or offering forever. How great, how lamentable, was their fall,--men upon whom rested sacred responsibilities, proscribed, outlawed from mercy, by a just and holy God!