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Family, Marriage, Parenting

Week 4: Loving Work More Than Family 1 Sam. 2:12-26


Even though the stories in the Bible happened thousands of years ago, it is utterly amazing that the Old Testament characters experienced many of the same challenges that we face today. That seems especially true when it comes to family matters—husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and of course, the in-laws. In the story of Eli the high priest and his two sons, we see what can happen when a father fails to discipline his children.

CONNECTING AS A GROUP: We’ve all seen children who are spoiled and undisciplined. We’ve also seen the kind of adults they can become. Discuss some reasons why these kids don’t get the loving attention they need from their parents.

  • Why do some parents try to be a “friend” to their young children? Is this a good parenting philosophy? Why or why not?

  • How do some parents recoil from the constant hard work (even sometimes drudgery) of parenthood?

  • When is it permissible to confront parents who, in your opinion, aren't doing as good a job as parents as they should?

STUDYING GOD’S WORD: Read 1 Samuel 2:12-26. Consider these questions:

  • How do you think Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas became such disobedient adult men, especially considering they had grown up watching their father perform the work of the Lord?

  • Read Numbers 15:22-31, then Numbers 18:30-32. As high priest, what actions did God’s law demand that Eli take against his disobedient sons?

Consider this commentary on 1 Sam. 2:13-17 from the Life Application Study Bible: “What were Eli’s sons doing wrong? They were taking parts of the sacrifices before they were offered to God on the altar. They were also eating meat before the fat was burned off. This was against God’s laws (Leviticus 3:3-5). In effect, Eli’s sons were treating God’s offerings with contempt.”

  • Are we ever guilty of treating people we consider “lower than us” with contempt and scorn? How?

Although Eli may have performed his job well as high priest, clearly he did not perform very well as a father, and he and his sons paid for their disobedience with their lives (1 Sam. 4:12-18). Among all the bad news the messenger brought to Eli, what was the news that actually caused him to die? Consider this commentary on the life of Eli from the Life Application Study Bible: “Eli responded to situations rather than solving them. But even his responses tended to be weak. God pointed out his sons’ errors, but Eli did little to correct them...But Eli had another problem. He was more concerned with the symbols of his religion than with the God they represented. For Eli, the Ark of the Covenant had become a relic to be protected rather than a reminder of the Protector. His faith shifted from the Creator to the created.” In other words, he loved his work and position as high priest more than he loved his sons.

  • How did God eventually deal with Eli, Hophni and Phinehas’s disobedience? How could Eli have prevented this eventual


MAKING APPLICATION: Proverbs 22:6 is often quoted as a standard for rearing children, as is Ephesians 6:4. Read these verses, then consider:

  • Does “teaching your children to choose the right path” always mean they will make right choices? How should a parent react when a child makes wrong choices?

  • What does “teaching your children” mean in terms of time spent with them?

  • What are some of the practical differences between discipline and punishment? Do parents need to use one or the other, or both?

  • What is one way you can show your child or children more loving discipline this coming week?

PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER: If being a parent sometimes seems more like being a juggler, you’re not alone. In our American culture, we constantly juggle competing opportunities, responsibilities and obligations. Pray that we will learn to focus our priorities on God’s priorities. Pray that we will love our children enough to correct and discipline them as they grow. Pray that we will learn to support each other in our parenting, trusting God for the outcome.

MEMORIZE THIS VERSE: “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” 1 Samuel 2:12

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