The Patterns of Bad Bible Dads

While there are good Bible dads, there are more who messed up. We’re going to look at a few individuals and the patterns they fell into. 

Has anyone ever said, “Do as I say, not as I do?” Have you said it? 

Well we shouldn’t say that because kids have hypocrisy detectors and will copy your behavior. It’s why we have generational dysfunction. 

Abraham was worried he would be killed and his wife taken. “Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, by saying, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace.” Genesis 20:1-3

God was ticked and threatened the king in a dream. He gave her back. Fast forward to Isaac, Abraham’s son, as an adult. 

When the men who lived there asked Isaac about his wife, Rebekah, he said, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “They will kill me to get her, because she is so beautiful.” But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah.

Immediately, Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, “She is obviously your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”

“Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me,” Isaac replied.

“How could you do this to us?” Abimelech exclaimed. “One of my people might easily have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin.”

Then Abimelech issued a public proclamation: “Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death!” Genesis 26:7-11

It happened in the same area! Different king, though, probably the first one’s son. In Abraham’s case, it was a half-truth. In Isaac’s, a total lie. Rebekah wasn’t his sister. 

Let’s look at Jacob. The dude played favorites. Joseph was his favorite. He was spoiled and a brat at that, always telling on his brothers. Of course, they hated him for it.

They did mess up a lot, but they learned from him. Jacob was deceitful from the beginning.

They planned to kill Joseph and decided to sell him instead, while another plotted to rescue him to get in their dad’s good graces. But, unfortunately, he was too late, so they told their dad his favorite kid was dead and watched him descend into grief for decades. 

His last words to three of them were particularly telling of the kids he raised. 

“”Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength,

    the child of my vigorous youth.

    You are first in rank and first in power.

But you are as unruly as a flood,

    and you will be first no longer.

For you went to bed with my wife;

    you defiled my marriage couch.

“Simeon and Levi are two of a kind;

    their weapons are instruments of violence.

May I never join in their meetings;

    may I never be a party to their plans.

For in their anger they murdered men,

    and they crippled oxen just for sport.

A curse on their anger, for it is fierce;

    a curse on their wrath, for it is cruel.”

Reuben, Simeon, and Levi…dude. There is more to the story of the latter two and mass murder. It was a failure on Jacob’s part to protect or avenge his daughter.

The whole story is in Genesis 34. His daughter Dinah went to visit friends and was raped by a Hivite ruler’s son. His dad went to Jacob and asked if his son could marry Jacob’s daughter.

Understandably, her brothers were ticked. So through a deceitful plan, they razed the city, killing him and his family along with everyone else. 

What did Jacob say?

Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.”

But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?” Genesis 34:30-31

Simeon and Levi took that too far but were partially correct, in my opinion. But, unfortunately, Jacob failed to defend her, a pattern that King David followed, and his kingdom split over it. 

In 2 Samuel 13, this incident is recounted. 

In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.

Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.

Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the King’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”

Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.'”

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the King came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

“No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the King; he will not keep me from being married to you.” But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

“No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”

But he refused to listen to her. He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the King wore. Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.

Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.

When King David heard all this, he was furious. And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the King’s sons to come there. Absalom went to the King and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the King and his attendants please join me?”

“No, my son,” the King replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.

Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.”

The King asked him, “Why should he go with you?” But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the King’s sons.

Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the King’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.

While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” The King stood up, tore his clothes, and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.

But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. My lord the King should not be concerned about the report that all the King’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.” 

David, like Jacob, was negligent with training his kids. He did nothing to Amnon for raping his daughter. Her brother did, but unlike Levi and Simeon, he only killed the one.

Absalom later took over the kingdom and had sex with his father’s concubines on the palace’s roof. Much like Reuben. 

I wonder if this is why Absalom’s brother Solomon wrote the proverb that you’ll spoil them if you don’t discipline the child.

Let’s recap the patterns: 

  1. Kids will do what you do, not what you say in the long run.
  2. Do not play favorites nor neglect them.
  3. Don’t be afraid to defend your kids.
  4. Discipline your kids.

I bet you didn’t know some of this was in the Bible, did you?

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