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People Just Like Us-a Study of Biblical Characters: No.4 Fathers and Sons

Johan Smulders has a . B.A, B.ED and M.A in Education, Theology and Counselling. Works as an evangelist and counsellor.


The Bible documents many accounts of the relationship between fathers and sons. It makes an interesting study to look at some of those accounts. Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, Eli and his sons, Saul and Jonathan, David and Solomon, David and Absalom, Joseph and Jesus, the unnamed Father and the unnamed Prodigal Son, to mention a few. There is always a special relationship between parents and their children and a look at Biblical examples reveals several things about that relationship. This eventually brings one to the relationship between God and His Son. From there it leads to the amazing fact that if we are “in Christ” that we share in a father child relationship with God himself. The Apostle Paul describes this situation to the Galatian Church; “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ” (Galations3:26, 27 – NIV used with permission).Jesus taught his disciples, and so also taught us to pray: “Our Father in heaven”. (Matthew 6:9)

The Love of a father

The first fact that comes to mind as we look at the father/son relationships mentioned in the Bible is that fathers want the best for their sons. David, as he is preparing to die, makes the appeal to his son Solomon: “I am about to go the way of all the earth, he said. So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires” (1 Kings 2:2, 3). He then continues to warn his son to keep all the decrees and commands of God which God gave through Moses.

Sadly however, Solomon, who was hugely talented and became one of the most worldly wise and richest men in the world, failed to take heed of the teachings of his father. At the end of his life he had given up on his faith by worshipping the false gods of his many wives (1 Kings 11:31-33).

But in spite of the disappointments that fathers face as they see their sons making bad choices, they continue to hope and love. This is clearly illustrated in the relationship between David and another of his sons, Absalom. Even after his son Absalom had led a rebellion against David, the love of a father brought David to his knees after Absalom was killed in battle; “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you – Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 19:33).

In the beautiful parable of the Prodigal Son, as recorded in the Gospel according to Luke in chapter 15:11-32, the father received back his wastrel of a son with open arms and rejoiced that he “who was lost is found”. This great parable illustrates not only the love of every father for his sons but also the love of our heavenly father for every one of us. All it needs is for us to: “come to our senses”, as the young man who had wasted his life did (Luke 15:12). What a waste of a life to turn our backs on the love of our Heavenly Father!

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Father are responsible to guide and train their sons.

The example of Eli and his sons is a vivid example of the responsibility of fathers to guide and control their sons as they grow up. Eli, one of the early prophets of Israel, was responsible for introducing Samuel to God (1 Samuel 3:9). At the same time he failed miserably as a father and in vs.11 God is recorded as saying to Samuel: “see, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle”. God then tells Samuel that because Eli had failed to restrain his sons and so they had done many “contemptible” things, Eli and his household would be punished.

In the New Testament one of the conditions that would make a man suitable for leadership would be that he had to “manage his own household well and see that his children obey him with proper respect” (1Timothy 3:4).

While a father is not held responsible for the sins of his sons/children, he has the responsibility to train them up to love God and live according to God’s teachings (Ezekiel 18:18). In the final analysis it is the responsibility of every individual to make the right choices. As a father we can only do so much and then watch and pray for a good outcome. But at the same time the love of a father is always present and ready to help and encourage. Fathers, including our Heavenly Father, love and dream of the best for their children. Like David they are prepared to give their lives for their children. After all that is what the Heavenly Father did for us.


Scriptures taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, Copyright 1973,1978,1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.


Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 20, 2021:

Sensible and make lots of sense to me. Thanks.

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