Eli's Family Government
1 Samuel 3:13
For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knows; because his sons made themselves vile…

1. In disorderly families it is likely that both parents and children will have to divide the blame.

2. When children grow up into vicious courses, it is wise for parents to try to change the temptations which injured them.

3. When God sends a warning, it will not do just to settle down into a discouraged apathy and consider it resignation.

4. In considering the matter of home government, we must remember that the children have some rights. No one principle is lodged in a boy's mind by nature more deeply than that of a strict and irrevocable justice.

5. Ideas are yet influential in the training of even the stubbornest of children and even the vainest. There is a power in family instruction, and parents are to teach their children what is right and honest and decent and of good report. It is folly to think that young people are without reflection. Perhaps the time will come in which people will cease foolishly to object that the hearts and habits of children ought to be allowed, especially in religious matters, to grow up unbiassed.

6. A proper measure of permissions should be mingled with the restrictions which the family sovereignty imposes. Those who are familiar with the autobiography of Goethe will perhaps recollect with what energy he exclaims, after recounting some painful frettings of parental discipline he himself endured, "If elderly persons wish to play the pedagogue properly, they should neither prohibit nor render disagreeable to a young man anything which gives him an innocent pleasure, of whatever kind it may be, unless at the same time they have something else to put in its place or can contrive a substitute."

7. The time for making impressions upon the minds and the hearts of the children comes much earlier than many parents seem to suppose.

8. When a direct conflict of authority is reached there can be no compromise. The story that Gambetta poked out one of his own eyes when a child, because his father would not permit him to do as he pleased, is perfectly true. What is not so generally known is that the elder Gambetta remained inflexible even after this appalling display of wilfulness. The boy was being educated at the Lycee of Cahors; and conceiving a dislike to the institution, asked to be removed from it. His father refused again and again. At last Leon said, "I will put out one of my eyes if you send me back to the Lycee." It was holiday time. "As you please," said the father, to whom it seems never to have occurred that his boy might have inherited his own strength of purpose. The same day Leon took, not a penknife, as the popular tradition has it, but an inkstand, which he dashed such violence against his eye as to destroy it. Shocked as was the elder Gambetta, he would not give in; and Leon returned to the Lycee. There could have been no other decision with such a lad. Better the loss of an eye than the victorious defiance of law.

9. Prayer for help every instant is the one necessity for all success in family government. The devil of misrule is one of those evil spirits which cannot be cast out otherwise.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

WEB: For I have told him that I will judge his house forever, for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves, and he didn't restrain them.

Eli: a Warning to Parents
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