Why Were the Kings Such Bad Parents?


Recently I finished reading I and II Kings, right about the time I finished reading Debbie Thomas‘s Raising Rain. Something I didn’t mention in my Friday review of the novel is that one of its theme deals with parenting. Maybe that’s why I started thinking about what bad parents the Israelite kings were.

Even the good kings were bad fathers. Take David for instance. He was filled with the Holy Spirit (see I Samuel 16:13), was known as a man after God’s own heart, wrote Scripture, but look at his sons. One raped his sister. Another murdered his brother and later organized a coup against his father. A third tried to take the throne before Solomon could.

Where was David when all this was going on ? Well, he got mad at the rapist … but did nothing else. He exiled the murderer … for a time, but eventually brought him back to Jerusalem and even back to the court. And the one who schemed to supplant Solomon? David left the problem for the new king.

What’s more, he openly favored Absalom, the son who engineered the coup. Despite his murderous intent, when David’s followers engaged Absalom’s in battle, Davide ordered his commanders to preserve Absalom’s life. When he was killed instead, David mourned and mourned—to the point that one of his commanders (his nephew) said, “I know this day that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased” (2 Samuel 19:6b).

But David wasn’t the only bad father. Time and again, Godly kings were followed on the throne by their sons who undermined everything they’d done to turn the nation back to following God.

Hezekiah, for instance, was one of the best kings, but his son, Manasseh was possibly the worst, going so far as to institute child sacrifice to one of the false gods of a neighboring country. How was it that Hezekiah could tear down the idol temples, destroy the high places, repair the temple, experience God’s healing in response to his prayer, and not teach his son to love God and worship Him?

Josiah, too. What an inspiring young man. When he heard the word of God read, he knew at once that his nation had incurred God’s wrath because of their waywardness. He sought God and went about educating his people. He purged Judah of idolatrous priests, removed the mediums and spiritists and, re-instituted the Passover. Scripture says of him, “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses” (2 Kings 23:25a). But he ended up having three of his sons sit on the throne and in every instance Scripture records that they did evil in the sight of the Lord.

So what happened?

Were the kings too busy to pay attention to their sons? Did they have too many kids to even know them? Did they leave the rearing up to their mothers or to some other caregiver? (One boy’s grandmother tried to kill all the heirs, and his aunt saved him. Perhaps she was in place to do so because he was in her care).

Solomon is the one that mystifies me most. He who wrote such passages as “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” didn’t seem to do a very good job of training up his own son.

I suppose some of these wayward boys chose to go astray despite good training. That would seem to be the case of Joash, the boy king rescued from his grandmother. As long as his uncle was alive giving him counsel, he conducted himself as a Godly king, but once his uncle died, he did an about-face.

So the dads, and the moms, aren’t to blame for the results. But you’d think, in that whole line of kings there would have been one who wholeheartedly walked with God and whose son did likewise.

Published in: on December 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm  Comments (6)  
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Mount Hermon Report 2008, Part 7


Saturday afternoon had two workshop slots, but I only attended the one. I planned to get coffee and figure out which seminar to attend next during the break, but instead ran into Debbie Thomas, a Mount Hermon writer friend who was in Randy Ingermanson’s Mentoring Clinic with me in 2005. We spent the hour talking writing, and it was time well spent.

Hanging out with other writers was definitely one of the great pluses of Mount Hermon. I was a little slow in getting pictures—I haven’t had a camera for a couple years, so it took me a few days to get into the swing of snapping all the people I wanted to blog about. Consequently, there are many, many omissions. But here are some notables, besides those I’ve already posted.

Katie Cushman at Mount HermonKatie Cushman, our carpool driver and author of A Promise to Remember (Bethany). You can read my review, which I posted a week ago, here. Besides being a brilliant writer, Katie is a kind, funny, interesting, organized, smart woman of faith. I would miss out on a lot if I didn’t get the travel time with Katie and the other carpoolers.

I wish I’d taken a picture of the four of us, especially because I don’t have any photos of Rich Bullock (one of the omissions I mentioned), my “twin” (we share the exact same birthday) and first carpool driver back in 2005. Just this last year we’ve also joined with a few other writers to form an online critique group. Rich has such great instincts and is a fantasy reader. Next year, I’ll make a point of getting his picture!

Caroleah JohnsonMy roommates, Caroleah Johnson and Sally Apokedak. Caroleah and I shared a cabin in 2006, one that was nearly at the top of the hill and about killed me off because after hiking the ten minutes up hill, there were some fifty stairs to climb. That was the year it rained non-stop, too. Still, it was a great cabin, with a fully outfitted kitchen, dining room, living room, separate bedrooms. During our stay, we had some time over late night cups of hot tea to get to know each other. Caroleah is an up-and-coming writer. She started in non-fiction, writing devotionals and producing a newsletter for her church. The 2006 conference gave her information about where to market her work and started her in fiction. Some time later, I came across her name in the list of Writer’s Digest Contest top one hundred. She placed there again in 2007.

Sally ApokedakI first met Sally online as the moderator of the critique group I joined. We actually met in 2004 at Mount Hermon. Since then we’ve become good friends and critique partners. She is another fantasy writer but targets children and YA. In fact, she recently became the Writing for Children editor at Bella Online.

Katy Popa/Sharon SouzaSome of these writers are ones I wish I could have hung out with. We’d see each other in passing and maybe have a meal together, but time was limited. Pictured here are Katy Popa, author of To Dance in the Desert (my review is here) and Sharon Suza, author of Every Good and Perfect Gift (my review is here). I knew Katy from her participation in Faith in Fiction but met both women in Gayle Roper’s mentoring clinic in 2006. Last year, when exchanging emails, I learned that Katy lived in a Victorian home. She gave me a fun story I was able to use to open the article I wrote for Victorian Homes magazine about blogging.

Becca/Susan JohnsonOne more picture for today. I met Becca Johnson, on the right, at a meal in 2006 when she came to Mount Hermon as a seventeen year old. Her mom, Susan, who accompanied her, claims not to be a writer, but during this past year she posted a review of one of the CSFF Blog Tour books for Becca and did a great job. Besides, since Becca is homeschooled, it’s apparent Susan knows more than she lets on. As we talked, she left the door open for writing some herself, but as it is, Becca, now nineteen and in college, is the writer of the family. I’m happy to say, she is a fantasy writer and well into her first novel.

More pics and reports next week.

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