Today I’m looking at the same verse as yesterday:
Deuteronomy 21:18-21- “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives and they shall say to the elders of his city, “This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”
I keep thinking about how sad this would be, were it to happen. I can’t imagine one day my son growing up and becoming so evil and hopeless that I myself would actually choose, with my husband, to report him to the elders, knowing what his sentence would be. I would have to feel so incredibly hopeless over my son to actually give up my God-given authority over him, and hand him over to death. According to one of the commentaries, there is no example in Scripture of this actually happening. If it never happened even outside of Scripture, it’s probably not for lack of wicked sons. I can think of a few wicked sons that God condemned in Scripture without the use of this law. In fact, the prophet Eli in 1 Samuel 1-4 had two wicked sons that God Himself judged because “he did not rebuke them” (1 Samuel 3:13) and ultimately ended Eli’s bloodline . Of course, if Samuel did not rebuke his sons for the acts they committed, he would not have brought them before the elders, as this verse from Deuteronomy commands.
I imagine that there were many sons (and daughters) throughout Israel’s history who were disobedient to their parents, drunkards, and gluttons. But we see no family in which there was a rebellious child that was handed to the elders. But can you blame them? Can you imagine the sadness that you as a parent would have to feel over your sons’ sins? You would have to be very honest with yourself about your offspring’s behavior. You would have to feel so incredibly hopeless and so devastated to actually think this command was applicable in your life. Personally I probably would try to make every excuse in the book for my child’s behavior. (Wait, I do that sometimes already!)
Father, I’m so thankful that Jesus has paid the price for all of our sins. That we are no longer commanded to bring our rebellious and disobedient children to the elders of the city to be judged. I pray we will use our God-given parental authority for good, and not try to ignore our child’s sins or make excuses for them, even as they grow up. I pray You will give us wisdom in correcting them, and may we be faithful to pray for them to turn away from rebelliousness, should that be their present state. Thank You for Your mercy. Give us wisdom, o God! Help us not ignore when our children stray from the truth but bring them before “Your throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). in Jesus’ Name, Amen.