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Five Bible Fathers and Fatherly Deeds to Imitate
Though more often said than done, it is generally accepted that the father’s contribution to the home is his primary duty. “Whatever his cares and business perplexities,” writes Ellen White, “they should not be permitted to overshadow his family.”
The Bible does not present models of perfect fathers, but it reports instances in which imperfect men modeled commitment to fatherly duties. This suggests that human flaws are no excuse to relinquish the duties of parenting. Children learn from their parents what it means to be committed to family, even when life sucks.
Following are five Bible Fathers who performed well in different aspects of fatherhood. Their action is worth of imitation. Bible Quotes below are from the New Living Translation.
Fathers Performing An Aspect of Fatherhood
Joseph, Judah, Benjamin, Dan, Levi, Reuben, Gad, Simeon, Asher, Naphtali, Issachar, Zebulun,Dinah
Affirm the children. - (Genesis 33: 1-20)
Learn parenting. - (Judges 13)
Samuel and several others unnamed
Demonstrate love. - (1 Samuel 1: 1-8)
Keziah, Jemima, Keren-happuch (among 20)
Support family time. - (Job 29)
Two Unnamed Sons
Forgive. - (Luke 15:11-32)
(1) Jacob: Affirm the Children
These are the children God has given me. (Genesis 33:5)
Jacob deceived his father into granting him a blessing which rightfully belonged to his twin brother, Esau. Esau became angry and threatened to kill him, so their mother arranged for Jacob to leave home, and the brothers remained distant for many years, until Jacob wrote to Esau:
“Humble greetings from your servant Jacob. Until now I have been living with Uncle Laban, and now I own cattle, donkeys, flocks of sheep and goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform my lord of my coming, hoping that you will be friendly to me.” (Genesis 32: 4, 5)
Notice that Jacob did not mention the children. Most likely, he did not want Esau to include them in any idea he might have for retaliation. When they met, Esau surprised Jacob with eagerness to reconcile; then, Jacob presented the children as his gifts from God.
What if fathers today protected and presented their children as God’s gifts? The children would acknowledge their worth. They would know that what their fathers say about them mean more than what other people say. They would learn to respect themselves and demand respect from others. Imagine how father-child relationships would thrive!
(2) Manoah: Learn Parenting
So Manoah asked [the angel], “When your words come true, what kind of rules should govern the boy’s life and work?” (Judges 13:12)
Manoah’s wife reported that a heavenly being had visited and informed her that she would become pregnant. She said that she had been given some parenting instructions, but Manoah wanted more. His immediate response was “Lord, please let the man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.” (verse 8)
The Benson Commentary suggests some of the questions that Manoah might have asked:
- “What shall be the method of educating the child?”
- “What rules shall we observe in bringing him up?”
- “What profession shall we prepare him for?”
- “How shall we instruct him, so as to make him fit to be the deliverer of Israel?”
Manoah’s story presents three main challenges for responsible fathers. (1) Parenting is not only the job of the mother, but of the father also. (2) Parenting education begins even before the child is born. (3) God's Word offers parenting instructions and should be consulted through prayer and the Scripture reading.
(3) Elkanah: Demonstrate Love
Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8)
Elkanah was already a father. Hannah, one of his two wives, was distressed at being childless. He asked her these questions when she broke down in tears over her barrenness. Seemingly, she found some comfort, for, “then Hannah rose after eating and drinking” (verse 9).
Without understanding the complexities of polygamy, we are satisfied that Elkanah also loved his first wife [Peninnah] and her children (verses 4 and 5). Hopefully, fathers in our culture do not have more than one wife to love, but there is a lesson in this story for them.
Today’s father can learn from Elkanah that among other reasons for loving his wife, it is his duty. Love her with sensitivity. Listen to her, read her countenance, notice her pain, and do not take her tears for granted. Build a relationship that will not buckle under the challenges of parenting. The experts agree that the best way to love the child is to really love his mother.
(4) Job: Support Family Time
When I was in my prime, God’s friendship was felt in my home. . . and my children were around me. (Job 29:4)
Job, in his later years and in the midst of great suffering was reminiscing on happier times. Given his regular practice of interceding with God on his children’s behalf (Job 1: 4, 5), he must have experienced much joy when they were gathered around him at home, in a godly atmosphere. This memory brought him comfort.
In the same speech (verse 18), he looked forward to the end of his days when, “Surely I will die surrounded by my family after a long, good life.” For Job and other fathers like him who made time in the past to be with their children, there is the hope that in the future, their children will make time to be with them.
Quality time with the children provides spiritual, social, and emotional benefits for them, and it is a duty with a lifetime reward.
(5) Prodigal Father: Forgive
We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found. (Luke 15: 23, 24)
This parable is popularly titled Parable of the Prodigal Son, referring to the boy's extravagance in spending his money. Still some Bible scholars call it the Parable of the Prodigal Father, referring to the father's extravagance in preparing the feast for his son's return. Either way, the conclusion is that the intensity of the father's forgiveness greatly outweighed the intensity of the son’s folly.
The son had wasted his rich inheritance and went from being privileged to being poor. He was ashamed and afraid to return, but his father met him on the way and welcomed him home. It was instant forgiveness.
Dutiful fathers do not abuse, abandon or disown their children because of disobedience, delinquency or even self-destruction. They reach out to their children with the same understanding, love and forgiveness that their Heavenly offers to them. God loves unconditionally and so do dutiful fathers.
© 2018 Dora Weithers