|Vol. 16 No. 6 June 2014||
The word “father” is worthy of note in the Bible because of its frequent usage. According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, the word is used 1,041 times in the Bible. The definition for father is “a male parent,” “a person who is like a father,” a “forefather,” “a person who helped to make something” and most importantly, “the God of Heaven.”
From all of these definitions, we realize that a “father” is important in so many ways. Fathers are important to the health, safety and well-being of their offspring. Most of us think of fathers as strong and capable of performing any job. Some consider their father as a “playmate,” enjoying the wrestling and tumbling they do with him and the good times they share together, and he usually likes athletics! Some are impressed by the wisdom of a father and often seek his advice when making decisions. In any case, most earthly fathers are depended upon, respected and looked up to by their offspring. Truly, there are some bad fathers who do not in any way fit these expectations, but thankfully, they are an exception. Most fathers love and cherish their offspring and expend their effort in (1) loving, (2) caring for and (3) training their children.
(1) Love That’s exactly what God does for His children. The apostle Paul made the statement that “In Him [God] we live and move and have our being… for we are His offspring.” The love of God for His children is the greatest love ever to be exhibited. The apostle John gave quite a bit of space to speak of God’s love. We read in 1 John 4:7ff, “Let us love one another for love is of God and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God for God is love. God’s love was manifested toward us because He sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Then there’s that Scripture that most of us have been able to quote since we were little children: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
(2) Caring for Not only does God love His children, He takes care of them and provides for them. We are instructed in 1 Peter 5:7 to “cast all your care upon Him for He cares for you.” Paul told the Philippians that “the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). We can trust God to “supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). It’s true that we may not always have all the earthly riches and blessings that we want, but we can trust God to supply enough creature comforts to get by on, and He will give us peace to see us through hard times.
(3) Training God has promised training that will last a life time: “Train up a child in the way he should go and, when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This training requires one to study, know and live according to God’s instructions to be a Christian. God, “according to His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain to life and Godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). His Word is how He trains and teaches His children to know what He expects and how they must obey Him. We live in troublesome times; sin is rampant upon the earth. There are more and more people to commit more and more evil. The only way to overcome these bad times is to go to God and let Him be one’s Guide to doing what is good and right. Our world needs good Christian fathers who will train up their children in the Lord’s way, and they, in turn, will teach their children.
A Father’s Failure
O my son Absalom – my son, my son Absalom – if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”(2 Samuel 18:33). Here is an exceedingly bitter cry. It is one of the saddest passages in the entire Bible. One would think that such was the cry of a mother who had lost the dearest thing on earth to her, a child. Yet, no, it is the bitter cry of a man weeping for his son who had been killed. Absalom, the son of David had been slain while leading his forces against his father, the King of Israel. David had instructed Joab and his men to deal gently with his son (2 Samuel 18:5), but they slew the young man anyway (2 Samuel 18:14-15). In the rearing of his son Absalom, David was indeed a failure.
Yet, wherein had David failed? We must be fair and note that in other ventures in life, David was not a failure. In fact, in many things he was very successful. We observe that David rose rapidly in rank. We saw him first as a shepherd boy. He possessed a brilliant mind and fortitude. As a courageous lad, he went out to meet and defeat the great giant Goliath in battle. David was a many sided man. He was not only a shepherd but a poet, a singer and later the King of Israel. A man like this will usually make good in any situation. While as king, much wealth was accumulated in the treasury. The enemies had been defeated. The time was called the Golden Age of Israel. David provided the proper foundation upon which his son Solomon eventually erected the Temple. Yet, in what did this successful man fail?
He failed as a father. David paid a great price for his success. When David looked over his life, he saw it too. It cost him many hours of sorrow. Our text in 2 Samuel 18:31-33 reveals only one time of his weeping. His son was killed while rebelling against him. Many fathers today are like David. They too will pay the price. Some men are successful at building fortunes but completely unsuccessful at building men.
One might ask, “Why did David take this failure so hard?” It was because of his tender love for his son that he had lost. Fathers are not supposed to do much weeping it is often thought by misinformed individuals. We should understand, however, that often fathers are just as devoted to their children as mothers are. David also took his failure hard because his loss was without remedy. We may blunder in some things and correct them the next time, but there is no next time in the rearing of children. David could have said, “I would make Absalom a different boy if I could only have my time over with him.” No wonder he cried. David took failure hard because he knew he lost his son hopelessly. Absalom was gone for good. He could not be brought back again. Death always produces this feeling when we loose loved ones. David lost his son needlessly. If he had been the right kind of a father, perhaps he could have saved his son. Many a father carries this self-accusation in his bosom.
The story is told about a father who took his little child into the field one afternoon, and it being a hot day, he laid down in the shade of a beautiful tree. The little child ran about gathering wild flowers and little bits of grass and coming to his father and would cry, “Look how pretty!” At last the father fell asleep, and while he was sleeping, the child wandered away. When the father awoke, his first thought was, “Where is my child?” He looked around, but he could not see him. He shouted at the top of his voice, but all he heard was an echo. Running to a little hill, he looked around and shouted again. There was no response. Then going to a steep cliff at some distance he looked down and there, far below on the rocks and briars, he saw the mangled form of his precious child. He rushed to the spot and took up the lifeless corpse and hugged it to his bosom and accused himself of being the murderer of his child. While he was sleeping and neglecting for just a short time, his child had wandered over the precipice.
Such depicts so many fathers and mothers today. While their children are wandering closer and closer to the edge of the cliff and to certain destruction, parents are asleep regarding the moral and spiritual welfare of their offspring. Often parents contribute to the downfall of their children because of their own way of life. Some fathers drink, gamble and are unfaithful to their marriage vows, and then, they wonder what went wrong in the rearing of their children. King David was crushed beneath the burden of thought that he had lost his son Absalom for all eternity. It should be noted that providing the daily necessities for one’s family is not enough. More important is the rearing of children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Money may provide for the body but not for the soul. Money may buy groceries but not character.
Another question to ponder is why was David a failure as a father? When John was born, the question was raised, “What then shall this child be” (Luke 1:66)? It is required of parents to train children in the way of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). David undoubtedly shifted his responsibilities to someone else. He had many obligations, cares, troubles and political problems, but he should not have neglected his son. Perhaps Absalom never thought about going to David with his broken toy, and he never thought about going to him with his broken heart. David gave him everything but himself. Many fathers are like that today. David in his sins concerning Bathsheba could have influenced his son, adversely so. David repented and returned from the far country of sin, but Absalom never came back from that land of sorrow.
Fathers, you should consider your responsibilities toward your children before it is eternally too late. Lead your loved ones in the way of the Savior Jesus Christ. Make every effort to save your family from sin and an everlasting separation from the God of heaven. You cannot afford to lose your sons and daughters.