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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers in the Bible: Some failings

There are a lot of fathers mentioned in the Bible. About all we know about a lot of them is, in the words of the King James Version, that "so and so begat such and such." Which means, of course, that so and so was a sperm contributor. The Bible doesn't usually tell us much else about how good, or how bad, such fathers were.

We know more about some fathers, and their failings. Here's a quick list.

Isaac and Jacob both had favorite sons. This, of course, is not a way to make the non-favored offspring happy. The result was a split family, in each case.

Eli, Samuel, and David didn't discipline their children very well. There were bad consequences, in each case, including some deaths in at the case of Eli's and David's families, and maybe Samuel's.

Omri was a bad man who set a bad example. Two of his children, Athaliah and Ahab, followed him. Athaliah ordered her own grandchildren killed, so that she could be ruler. Ahab let his wife, Jezebel, lead him around, and did, or allowed her to do, some very wicked things. The whole family worshiped abominable idols, although Ahab at least acknowledged God.

Zachariah doubted that God would use his son, John the Baptist, as God told him that he would.

*   *   *   *   *

On the other hand, perhaps the Bible is like today's local TV news. Good things are seldom reported! We are not told much about Joshua's father, Nun, David's father, Jesse, or Samuel's father, Elkanah, Moses's father, Amram, or Zebedee, the father of James and John. There's nothing, or next to nothing, about the fathers of Deborah, Job, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Dorcas, Ruth or Rahab. We are told little about Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. But it's a good guess that at least some of these men did a good job, judging by their offspring. But I'm not sure that is true. Children can be better (or worse) than their parents. The only father I can think of, where there is some description of the good example they set, is Mordecai, Esther's stepfather, or adoptive father.

If fatherhood has ever been easy -- which is very doubtful -- it isn't easy  now. God, help the fathers of today to avoid the flaws of the fathers discussed in the first part of this post, and to emulate good fathers, like Mordecai, and, probably, Jesse, Amram, Zebedee and millions of other unsung fathers, in the Bible and later, who have never run for office, been CEO of a big company, or written a book, but whose legacy is good children.

Thanks for reading. I'm thankful for a good father. I'm thankful for children who have made me look good.


Keetha Denise Broyles said...

LOL - - - he said "sperm contributor."

No wonder I'm not embarrassed to say such things, perhaps I learned it from my mentor!

Hannah Sheikh said...

Hello Mr. LaBar.

I just discovered your blog while searching for an Old Testament family tree - good stuff indeed. Today's post was enjoyable as well. Thanks and have a great day.


Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Keetha. I wasn't embarrassed, either.

Thank you, Hannah Sheikh!