Although Eli was a minister of God, and highly honored, the few chapters of the Book of First Samuel reveal how he neglected his own family. Although he had been appointed to be keeper of the vineyard of God, he neglected his own. “If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:5) A minister’s family should be an example to all his congregation. It cannot fail to give high value to his exhortations. Of one respected minister of old, this testimony is given: “As he walked about the house, he would make some spiritual use of everything that did occur; and his lips did drop as an honeycomb to all that were about him.” Cotton Mather is renowned for his admirably-managed family; and his children rose up to call him blessed, while his ministry was largely used by God. Philip Henry’s family life is well-known; and his son Matthew Henry, the commentator, gratefully ascribes his own Christian character to Godly parental training. Nor are these solitary examples! Many more might easily be presented in illustration of pious training. Eli neglected this; and in doing so, he disobeyed the Lord and injured his sons. He attended to his public calling, and maintained a respectable character; but he left his domestic duty undone, and allowed his sons to be willful and wayward. And thus he inflicted a curse upon the priesthood, and he brought a bitter old age upon himself. He did not restrain his sons’ vices, nor correct their disobedience. And, taking advantage of his softness, they indulged in sin until they profaned the sanctuary and disgraced their father’s house!
Such a case as this is a beacon to every parent, and gives a solemn warning not to trifle with those who are entrusted to your care. Charity must begin at home, and it must be expended first upon the Christian training of your children. Fathers and mothers! Take an interest in your children’s well-being for eternity, as well as for time! Spare no pains to secure such a great blessing as their spiritual change! Gather them around the family altar, read to them the Word of God, and offer up earnest prayers for their salvation! It will be with you as it is was with him of old, of whom it is written, “The Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom” – because the Ark of God was in it! Do you have the Ark of God in your home? The lack of this, and the neglect of interest in your children’s souls, must and will make your religious profession less respected and less influential! Parents, please ponder this and consider your families!
– adapted from Robert Steel, 1860
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God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for our King’s glory,
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