Eli Rebukes His Sons
22 Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 23 He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? 24 No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear [n]the Lord’s people circulating. 25 If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death.
26 Now the boy Samuel [o]was growing in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men.
27 Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I not indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh’s house? 28 Did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me; and did I not give to the house of your father all the fire offerings of the sons of Israel? 29 Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the [p]choicest of every offering of My people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever’; but now the Lord declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming when I will break your [q]strength and the [r]strength of your father’s house so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 You will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all the good that [s]I do for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever. 33 Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar [t]so that your eyes will fail from weeping and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die [u]in the prime of life. 34 This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die. 35 But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always. 36 Everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a [v]piece of silver or a loaf of bread and say, “Please [w]assign me to one of the priest’s offices so that I may eat a piece of bread.”’”
We see first Eli rebuking his sons for their despicable behavior, but they didn’t pay attention. Now one could say it was on their heads at this point, but the whole situation shows the weighty responsibility of being a parent.
We are to train our children in the way they should go, or as some would translate the popular verse, “if you let them do their own thing, look out when they are older!”
Children need guidance and discipline, and being a parent is not just a matter of having sex and giving birth. God has given parents a gift, but with that a large responsibility over the future of that new life. Good upbringing is certainly no guarantee, but it is something that can never be neglected.