And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve…
The household is not an accident of nature, but an ordinance of God. The household is a representation, on a small scale as regards numbers, but not as regards the interests concerned, of the great family in heaven and earth. The father of a household stands most immediately in God's place. Of all the influences which can be brought to bear on man, paternal influence may be made the strongest and most salutary, and whether so made or not is ever of immense weight one way or the other. For remember that paternal influence is not that which the father strives to exert merely, but that which in matter of fact he does exert. None so keen to see into a man's religion as his own household. He may deceive others without, he may deceive himself, he can hardly long succeed in deceiving them. But if, on the other hand, his religion is really a thing in his heart; if he moves about day by day as seeing One invisible; if the love of Christ is really warming the springs of his inner life, then, however inadequately this is shown in matter or in manner, it will be sure to be known and thoroughly appreciated by those who are ever living their lives around him. But in treating of a household ruled in the fear of God another most important influence comes to be considered — one which, without holding so paramount a place as the first, yet ever lies closer to the hearts of children, and is more wound about all their schemes and plans. From the very necessities of life the father is kept ordinarily at a distance from his family during a great portion of his time. He is that one of the household who goes forth into the external world and savours of it; and thus not only in continuity, but in character also, his influence is in some measure broken; lying at some little distance, not employed on the thoughts and schemes of his children till they have acquired some degree of consistency; not called in to mould and cherish their first openings of intention and desire. This necessary deficiency is, however, amply and most graciously supplied by the mother of a household. She is ever the ministering angel to her children; with the same hand guiding their infant steps, and smoothing the fevered pillow of after-life; with the same voice teaching them their infant prayers, and with quiet and loving admonition tempering the waywardness of the rising spirits of youth. And thus while she shares in many of the feelings of reverence and affection due to the father, she yet has a narrower circle of her own. To her is committed by God the training and forming of each individual character among her children; in her bosom will take root those finer fibres of personal feeling from which, after all, our strongest emotions are fed. Oh that every Christian mother were living and moving in her household in the full consciousness of this power and this responsibility! Much might be said on a mother's share in the after-training of her children, even when other help is requisite and necessary; but it is only one very short and simple thing which need be said on their earliest training — it is a matter to which a mother alone is competent, a sacred duty which she can never neglect, and ought never to delegate.
Parallel VersesKJV: And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
WEB: If it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh."