We read about an example of how not to parent when reading about David in the Bible. When you read about David in his younger years, you see that he started well. He is dependent on God, dedicated to God, and then he became successful. He became king. We see that he prospered materially. And then he became self-indulgent. He became a father and indulged his children. We read of his children doing wicked things yet the Scripture says he never called them to account. We also read that he let unruly people be unruly, like Joab, the commander of his army. Like Amnon, his own firstborn son. He got angry, but his anger never resulted in doing anything about what he was angry about.
His own fleshly pursuits and indulgences destroyed his children. He loved himself. He was soft. He would kill Goliath but he wouldn’t kill sin. A self-indulgent person is a child himself. He will be a lousy parent. In fact, he cannot parent. He will destroy his children and so in this regard it is better that he be destroyed.
We read this in Mark chapter 9 verse 42. It says, “if anyone who causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the heart of the sea.”
David started well but ended bad. He fought a lion and a bear to protect the sheep
as a shepherd boy, yet he let Satan take over his children.
1 Sam 17:34-35 David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear…
We see he demonstrated more concern for sheep than for his children. He saw the sheep under his care as his father’s and acted as a steward accountable to him, but apparently he saw his children as his own to do or not do as he wanted or didn’t want to do. David did not consider that he was a steward for his children, as sheep of his Heavenly Father.
He indulged himself and indulged his children. He would not restrain himself or his children or his subordinates. We read about him indulging his subordinates, such as Joab. He should have rebuked him and even fired him when he acted on his own authority and killed Abner, the commander of the army for Saul, the former king, whom he saw as a competitor.
2 Sam 3:26-27 Joab then left David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern at Sirah. But David did not know it. Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into an inner chamber, as if to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.
Joab demonstrated that he was a loose cannon then and David failed to rebuke or restrain or take authority over him.
We read his response in verse 39: “today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me.”
Joab himself went on to indulge David in 2 Samuel 14 by getting Absalom back for him, and before that, we see him indulging David in 2 Samuel 11 by following through with his instructions to put Uriah where he would be killed. In 2 Samuel 24 we read of Joab protesting against David when he knew he was doing wrong by counting the fighting men. But in the case of Uriah, he went along with David’s evil. David’s so-called servants went along with whatever he told them to do, right and wrong. They were primarily servants of David not servants of God, just as we see with Doeg the Edomite.
In 1 Samuel 22, we read of Saul ordering Doeg to kill the priests. This was a wicked thing to do, yet Doeg mindlessly obeyed the King and killed the priests of God.
David was responsible for the rape of Tamar as he was for the death of Uriah. He sent her, after all, to her wicked brother Amnon instead of challenging Amnon. Why didn’t he ask why he wanted his sister to come to him? He just went along mindlessly with his wicked scheme.
2 Sam 13:6-14 Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.”Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom.But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.””No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.
Don’t be mindless with your children’s requests. Think them through. What is the heart and character behind these requests? Don’t just indulge your children. You are accountable to God.
David sent Uriah to his death for his own sin with Bathsheba. He sent Tamar to her destruction by the sin of Amnon. He sent Amnon to his death by indulging the request of Absalom to have him over for the feast.
2 Samuel 13:23-29 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?””No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.” The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered.
He was mindless and stupid and easily led. He had no moral compass. He stopped being a shepherd for God. What happened to the mighty man? He loved his children more than God, the same sin as Eli, for he also failed to restrain his children. It is too bad that Samuel wasn’t there to give David the same rebuke from God that he gave to Eli.
1 Samuel 3:11-18 The Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,aand he failed to restrain them. Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ ”Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”Samuelanswered, “Here I am.””What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him.
He was an indulgent ruler. He indulged himself, indulged his children, indulged his servants, and was himself indulged by all those under him. We must not worship those over us but serve them as unto the Lord. If they stray from the Lord we must not indulge them but give the word of the Lord to them.
David failed to restrain his children so they brought trouble to him and his people. They brought trouble to his rule and those he ruled. If you are a self-indulgent ruler, you will ruin both yourself and those you are responsible for. The Scripture says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely and you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
In 2 Samuel 15 we see more indulgence by David. Why didn’t he challenge Absalom’s request? Didn’t he know what Absalom was doing at the City Gate? Wasn’t he the ruler after all?
2 Sam 15:1-6 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.”And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
Absalom got away with murder in killing his brother Amnon. He made himself God. He was not accountable to anyone. In fact, in verse nine we read, “the king said to him, ‘go in peace.'” Go in peace?
At the end of four years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the Lord. While your servant was living at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow: ‘If the Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.’ ”The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he went to Hebron.
David had no discernment. He raised his own enemy. In verse 14 we read David saying, “we must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom.” There is no faith operating in David. God had called him to be king. David would slay Goliath who challenged the Lord but he would not deal with his son. He became weak and useless. In verse 30 we read of David weeping, barefoot, and the people weeping behind him. He is discouraged and discourages those under him.
See what David manifested in his home: lazy self -indulgence. As a shepherd he had protected the sheep, he fought lions and bears and killed them when they attacked the sheep. Even as a boy, he would kill Goliath in the power of God when Goliath threatened God’s people. David wrote many psalms pouring out his heart to God, praising God, and prophesying. Yet we do not hear his sons praising God. We do not hear of his sons fighting the battles of the Lord or even speaking of the Lord. They are just enmeshed in gross sin. There is neither confession nor repentance. There is no sorrow over their wicked deeds. There is no respect or honor for their father. In fact, they despise and fight against him. David was a victor in the battlefield and in the sheep fold but defeated in the home. Let us be warriors in our home against sin, flesh, and the devil. Let us uphold God’s kingdom in our homes. Let us uphold God’s kingdom first of all over ourselves. Over our tongue, our eyes, our heart. Be vigilant and aware, and “continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety,” as first Timothy 2: 15 says. Let us do battle with ourselves first. Don’t take off your armor at home. Don’t lay your weapons down because you are at home. See Ephesians chapter 6. Your home, after your head and heart, is in fact the next biggest battlefield for spiritual warfare.
David fought for the Lord out on the battlefield but not in the home. He let sin and flesh rule and even conquer himself and his children. Rather he should have fought “the lion and the bear” in the home! Scripture says there is a roaring lion out there:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
There is temptation to become lax when we are at home. There is temptation to become lax when we are at a time of rest. Satan knows this is his “opportune time.”
We read in 1 Kings 1:6 that David never interfered with his son Adonijah by asking, “why do you behave as you do?”
1 Kings 1:5-6 Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, “I will be king.” So he got chariots and horsesa ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. 6(His father had never rebuked him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)
David’s failure as a father gave his own self grief for the rest of his life. He didn’t interfere with Adonijah, as he was plotting to take over the kingship from him. What happened to David? His own father had commanded him. His own father demanded obedience of him. Though he was the youngest, he worked hard taking care of the sheep that his father had entrusted to him.
1 Samuel 17:12-15 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
We read of him being sent on errands to his brothers by his father’s command.
1 Samuel 17:17-20 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephahd of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurancee from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed.
We see another principle demonstrated in David and his children: what sin the father has a little, his children
have a lot.
David had 3 wives (1 Samuel 25:42-44). Solomon, his son by Bathsheba, had 700 wives (1 Kings 11:3). David had 10 concubines (2 Samuel 15:16). Solomon had 300.
What sin the parents have, the the children have worse. David committed adultery and murdered. David’s sons committed adultery and murder within their own family! Let’s take a warning and root out our own sin while our children are yet small, even unborn! Take heed to the words of 1 Corinthians 10:11, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” These examples are for us to take as warnings to not repeat the same behaviors and reap the same consequences. What a mercy to have a warning! Romans 15:4, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” There is hope if we take warning! We do not have to fall into the same pits, not lead our children into them!
This is another principle we see played out in David’s line. David sought God a lot, and sinned a little. Solomon, his son, sought God a little, and sinned a lot. Then Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, didn’t seek God at all. See the spiritual deterioration over successive generations.
Neglect Leads To Greater Pain.
David was a failure as a father. He was lax when he should have disciplined and trained his sons. He was indulgent with himself and them. Through his own self-indulgence he would not inconvenience himself to make the effort to challenge and admonish his children. This brought much more grief and pain to himself than any energy or time that he saved himself through his neglect of them. This grief and pain would endure for the rest of his life, and the lives of his children as well.
Let’s take a lesson from David. Better to fight “the lion and bear” at home, where there are children at stake, not merely sheep. We are ruling not for ourselves, but for God. We are their shepherds, under stewardship for the Good Shepherd.
Marie-Celine Farver RN BSN IBCLC RLC (c) 2014