The Power of Example

In many ways, it’s hard to write about David without also writing about his sin with Bathsheba.  The story of the sin itself is significant, but its consequences shape the rest of David’s life.  Indeed, in 2 Samuel 12, Nathan prophesies that the same sort of things will happen to David that David did to Uriah.  He will be betrayed by those close to him, and his wives will be taken by another man.

Indeed, from this time on, David’s domestic life is never again tranquil.  His son Amnon rapes his daughter Tamar.  Tamar’s brother Absalom murders Amnon, then instigates a rebellion against David.  In the course of that rebellion, he goes in to David’s concubines in a tent on the palace roof (the same roof from which David looked at Bathsheba, incidentally) so that everybody can see how he feels about Dad.

I can’t think of another time in Scripture when we see the sons of a king giving the king so much trouble.  God clearly knew what was going to happen, but He certainly didn’t take away Amnon and Absalom’s free will to cause it.  Instead, I think we can lay the blame much closer to home.  In having Uriah killed, David wasn’t murdering a stranger.  He was killing one of his own sworn men.  He was violating one of the most important tenets of good lordship.  His promise didn’t matter.  Right and wrong didn’t matter.  Only his lust mattered.

It’s clear from their behavior that his sons learned the lesson well.  Amnon needed only a little prodding to engage in incestuous rape.  Who cares if it’s his sister?  Who cares if she’s unwilling?  As with David, only Amnon’s lust mattered.  In response, Absalom takes the law into his own hands.  He further shows his contempt for right and wrong by plotting against his father.  Finally, he humiliates his father in the same place where David plotted his sin.

We too must beware the impact that our example can have on our children.  We can hold up a mask to the people we work and worship with, but we never can fool those we live with.  Every day, they see us at our best and at our worst, and they will model their lives on what they see, not what we say.

It is terribly tragic when we see the follies of one generation duplicated in the next!  How many sons of irreligious fathers grow up to reject God?  How many alcoholics’ children become alcoholics themselves?  How many children whose parents continually criticize other Christians grow up with a low opinion of the church of Christ and Christ Himself?

There are many reasons why we must keep our lives free from sin, but our children are among the most important of those reasons.  Raising godly children in this day is hard enough.  Let’s not make things even harder with our own ungodliness.

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