There is an old saying that goes something like this: “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” This proverb addresses that which the son is like – the father already was. Of course, this is not always the case. Not only does experience teach us this, but the Scripture addresses it also (cf. Ezekiel 18). In my reading of 1 Samuel, I seem to continually think about this. Why did Samuel’s sons not follow the great prophet’s path (1 Samuel 8:3)? No way to know, of course, except to say they did not want to. One can hardly speculate with justification anything about Samuel’s parenting, for nothing is known. It could be, simply, that Samuel’s sons chose a different path than that which their father took.
From our vantage point we can see that the path chosen by Samuel’s sons was a path of destruction. I am confident that as Samuel reflected on his own experience with his sons, he remembered that which the Lord said to him in the long ago (1 Samuel 3) concerning Eli and how Eli addressed the sinfulness of his sons. We learn nothing of what Samuel did in regard to his sons, but we do learn what Eli did with regard to his sons. In fact, that which he did amounted to doing nothing. I would like to think that Samuel addressed his sons with force. Perhaps when he mentioned them in 1 Samuel 12:2 things were much better.
From the vantage point of Samuel’s sons, however, they saw things much differently than their father. The sons were a self-serving team of religious leaders who greatest interest was not the Lord’s but their own. From the vantage point of the people led, they looked upon the sons of Samuel and wanted something different than they had. In fact they wanted a king to be just like the nations around them.
The apple does not fall far from the tree, but the apple that fell might be a rotten apple. When one comes along and sees a rotten apple, then it is discarded quickly. The people of Israel saw rotten apples; not only did they discard the apples, but they went further and insisted on discarding the Lord’s method of guidance (1 Samuel 8:1-7).
The Lord allowed them, but before He granted their request, He made known the practical heartaches that were to come.
Some decisions in life have grave consequences; many never learn, but for those who do, remember that though the apple does not fall far from the tree; the fruit produced is the one of choice. Be sure the fruit you produce is the Lord’s holy fruit. RT