What does the Bible say about fatherhood?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT FATHERHOOD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

God’s Word says plenty about fatherhood. (Do we care to listen?)

AN UNCONCERNED FATHER. King David, a saint of the Most High God, was nevertheless a mostly terrible father. Amnon, his firstborn son, raped his sister Tamar (David’s daughter), but David neither consoled Tamar nor punished Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-21). When David’s younger son Absalom murdered his brother for assaulting his sister, Absalom fled to a foreign land for three years (verses 23-39). Only after being pressurized did David finally send for Absalom from exile (2 Samuel 14:1-24). Nevertheless, when Absalom returned to Jerusalem, David did not see him in-person for two years (2 Samuel 14:28). After meeting his father, Absalom eventually incited a coup and David had to flee his throne (2 Samuel chapters 15–17).

In 2 Samuel chapter 18, David commanded his servants to bring Absalom alive (verses 5,12). Instead, they killed the young man! It was such a terrible, heart-wrenching life that David could have caused his son to avoid. Absalom’s many transgressions could have been minimized had his father taken the opportunity to follow Deuteronomy 6:7 and Deuteronomy 11:19. We find similar wording in Ephesians 6:4: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture [care] and admonition [instruction] of the Lord.” (Colossians 3:21: “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”) Upon hearing of Absalom’s slaying, David probably reflected on his parental shortcomings that had led up to this most disastrous outcome. Indeed, he had not been a decent father to any of his children here. It is no different today when men let anything and everything evil go on in their household, unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Their legacy depends on much time they had for their children when it counted the most!

A CONCERNED FATHER (BUT STILL ANOTHER COMPROMISER). Let us read 1 Samuel chapter 2: “[12] Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD…. [22] Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. [23] And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. [24] Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress. [25] If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.”

The Priest-Judge Eli discouraged his priestly sons from following Satan (Baal worship), but they disregarded his words. Yet, God censures Eli for not doing more, accusing Eli of thus: “[thou] honourest thy sons above me” (verse 29). Perhaps Eli was late in his rebukes of their waywardness. He obviously should have barred them from the priesthood, and based on Deuteronomy 13:6-18, they really should have been executed for their idolatry! Yet, he let them continue to live and serve as priests. Hence, God killed those two sons in battle, and promised to remove Eli’s other descendants from the priestly line. Samuel and his sons would form a new line of priests (see verses 27-36; cf. 1 Samuel 4:1-22).

A NURTURING STEPFATHER. Joseph, the husband of Jesus’ mother Mary, was a great stepfather, as Matthew chapter 1 shows: “[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. [19] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. [20] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. [21] And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. [22] Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, [23] Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. [24] Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: [25] And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

Joseph took care of His wife and her Boy the Christ Child. He followed the Lord’s instructions and did not abandon them. In fact, Joseph made sure they safely escaped into Egypt when King Herod began slaughtering the Jewish children (Matthew 2:13-23). We are not entirely sure what happened to Joseph after this, for Scripture never again mentions him directly. He was definitely a good financial provider for his family. A carpenter by profession, Joseph taught young Jesus that same trade (Matthew 13:55; cf. Mark 6:3).

A FALSE-RELIGION FATHER. Unbelieving Cain is distinguished for slaying his righteous brother Abel (the very first murder!). Most do not realize that Cain was a wicked father as well. As punishment for killing Abel, the LORD God commanded Cain to be a wanderer, a vagabond in the earth (Genesis 4:14). Cain, a farmer, was not to settle in one particular area: he was to be a nomad, moving constantly. Yet, he rebelled: “[16] And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. [17] And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” Interestingly, Cain, with his false works-religious system (see verses 1-13), founded a city. He did the exact opposite of what the LORD told him! Instead of drifting, he permanently settled in a specific geographic region. Moreover, he began a culture—a religious (!) culture—that opposed the one true God. It continues even today, for its members persecute and kill Christians (see 1 John 3:11-13; cf. Luke 11:47-51). They were the religious leaders of Israel who crucified Jesus, and will be followers of the Antichrist beyond our day. As we saw from Genesis, Cain named the city after his son Enoch. Cain was not a good father. He polluted his family with false religion, and the whole world since.

A WISE FATHER. Dying David counsels young King Solomon, somewhat redeeming himself from his previous parental failures: “[1] Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, [2] I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; [3] And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: [4] That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel” (1 Kings chapter 2).

Around this time, David also advised Solomon: “[20] And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD. [21] And, behold, the courses of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skilful man, for any manner of service: also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment” (1 Chronicles 28:20-21).

ANOTHER WISE FATHER. The Holy Spirit used King Solomon to write most of the Book of Proverbs. Here is how the first chapter opens: “[1] The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; [2] To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; [3] To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; [4] To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. [5] A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: [6] To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. [7] The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. [8] My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: [9] For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. [10] My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not….” The wise father—in this case, Solomon (writing to Rehoboam; 1 Kings 11:43)—cautions his son to walk in true wisdom. Fearing the God of the Bible, revering Him and believing His Word, is key to avoiding sinful thoughts and deeds.

EVIL, UNGODLY FATHERS. Ahaz, King of Judah and father of Hezekiah, was certainly not a virtuous parent. No different from the pro-abortion fathers of today, he actually offered at least one of his sons in a human sacrifice to pagan idols. “But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 16:3). Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, continued his grandfather Ahaz’s idolatry: “And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger” (21:6). Second Chronicles 33:6 says of Manasseh: “And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.” Ahaz and Manasseh polluted their families and nations with pagan idolatry. There was no Bible doctrine in either man’s life, and many suffered because of it. Manasseh was one of the primary reasons why God used Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem (read 2 Kings chapter 21)!

GODLY FATHERS. Titus chapter 2: “[1] But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: [2] That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience…. [6] Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. [7] In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, [8] Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” These traits are for Christian men in general, but they should especially be true of husbands and fathers. They are to be examples to women and children!!

MORE GODLY FATHERS. One of the most central passages about fatherhood is actually found among the qualifications for bishops and deacons. Titus chapter 1: “[6] If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. [7] For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; [8] But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; [9] Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”

First Timothy chapter 3: “[2] A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; [3] Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; [4] One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; [5] (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) [6] Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. [12] Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.”

Bishops and deacons should be the spiritual leaders in their home: the husband-father is head of the wife as Christ is Head of the Body (Ephesians 5:23-24). This is how all Christian men should function, bishops or not, deacons or not. According to God’s Word, if these men cannot lead their own family—especially their children—into spiritual maturity, they have proven themselves not to be capable of bringing a whole congregation to appropriate Christian thought and behavior! They should therefore not be appointed bishops or deacons (1 Timothy 3:4-5,12)! Let this author say something personal and frank. It is graphic but it must (!!!) be stated. If the Christian man is unwilling to bring his wife and children to spiritual maturity, sound grace teaching (Pauline theology, Romans through Philemon), he should not (!!!) marry any woman or father any children with her or anyone else! More societal and spiritual damage will result than good if the Christian man desires to function as nothing but a “legal partner” and a “sperm donor.” Think on that long and hard, my friends, think on it long and hard!!! (Women need to be quite careful about with whom they get involved romantically. Beware, beware, beware!!)

CONCLUSION

My dear brothers in Christ, if you endeavor to be fathers in and through whom the Holy Spirit will work mightily, you must give heed to and believe these verses. As we saw, the Bible features respectable fathers and depraved fathers. Some were flagrant idolaters; others trusted and loved the God of creation. Some were caring whereas others were dreadfully inhumane. Some taught their children God’s Word; others led their progeny to worship Satan. Some fathers were hardworking, and the rest were slothful.

Having read these passages of Scripture, you know exactly what mistakes not to repeat. You saw precisely what temptations our male ancestors faced long ago. You have already been given counsel in the Holy Bible as to how you are to think and conduct yourselves if the Lord Jesus Christ is to be glorified. It is up to you now to make the choice. You can either take your stand by faith in these verses, or you can just continue “doing your own thing.” Just remember the disasters that resulted when fathers failed to believe God’s Word. Just remember the benefits that came when fathers trusted God’s Word. Choose life… choose the grace life! 🙂

“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).

“By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee” (Psalm 71:6).

Also see:
» What does the Bible say about motherhood?
» Can you explain the “Corban” tradition?
» Is it normal for me to be too busy for daily Bible reading?

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