The life of King David shows us what happens when you neglect your relationship with your children. David was a Bible hero, but he blew it as a parent. We learn what not to do from David’s relationship with his 3rd son, Absalom.
David did many great things—killed a giant, wrote Psalms, had mercy on his enemies, and was humble in his greatness. But David had major flaws as well. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, which then led to the murder of her husband, Uriah.
The Bible doesn’t minimize this sinful episode, or make excuses for it. In fact, it shows us clearly how David and his family paid a steep price for this sin.
When David’s first son Amnon (step-brother to Absalom) sexually assaulted Absalom’s sister, Tamar, David was furious but did nothing. David failed to discipline, and this was a disastrous decision. Absalom silently plotted revenge, and two years later, had his servants kill Amnon.
Instead of confronting Absalom, David allowed him to go into self-exile, then when he allowed Absalom to return, David refused to let his son see his face. David fostered relational distance in this process, and when Absalom was finally allowed back into David’s presence, he was a bitter, conniving traitor to King David.
Here are five lessons we can learn from this sad story:
- You can be a dedicated Christian and blow it as a parent. This warning should drive all Christian parents to pray and seek out practical training in parenting. Two great sources of training are from the folks at 1Corinthians13Parenting.com and the National Center for Biblical Parenting. Training to apply Biblical truths is THE critical need for the families in our churches.
- Christian parents must guard against sexual sin. David’s unbridled lusts ruined his family, and set up a pattern of sin that rippled through generations of his descendants.
- Christian parents can be too busy to parent well. David had multiple wives with multiple children. This hurt his ability to father them well. His duties as king pressed in, but he should have carved out time for parenting. Far too many families today have fallen into the trap of over-commitment.
- Reluctance to discipline your child leads to disaster. Whether it was guilt over his own sin, laziness, or wanting to avoid the unpleasantness of conflict, David neglected his duty to discipline his kids, and this caused evil to continue and spread in his family.
- Parents should seek wisdom from spouses, God, or others as they discipline. David was quick to seek God’s direction for his battle plans, but when it came to parenting decisions, he sought no counsel from a wife or the prophets. When we arrogantly approach parenting with an “I got this” attitude, we are prone to fall. And trust me, this fall hurts.
Are you guilty of an “I got this” attitude toward parenting?
By James D. Dempsey, Ph.D.
Husband to Gail
Father of three
Grandfather of one
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Family Pastor at Anderson Mill Baptist Church
Presenter for The National Center For Biblical Parenting
Author of Parenting Unchained
Host of the radio show, Parenting Unchained, at www.LOTOradio.com
Click HERE for a link to Jim’s book, Parenting Unchained.