walk in the word
And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” So none of the people had tasted food (1 Samuel 14:24, esv).
Father wounds are common. Unresolved, they can hinder everything. A need for affirmation, lingering insecurity, fear of conflict, an inability to fully engage in relationships with others—all of these flow from unresolved father wounds. Your relationship with your father shapes your view of authority and is massively connected to what you think about your Father in heaven. Unresolved father wounds detain your progress, derail your victory, and diminish your happiness. They don’t destroy, devastate, or demolish you, but they do hinder your life.
“God wants to heal father wounds.”
An abusive father wounds his children deeply. His mantra is “whatever I want!” Now not all suffering is abuse. We minimize the suffering of people who have been abused when we call behavior “abusive” that is just bad behavior. Abuse is callous disregard for cruel behavior.
Callous: unfeeling toward the pain of others.
Disregard: paying no attention to others.
Cruel: knowing it’s painful and hurtful yet refusing to stop.
Behavior: volitional, aggressive, chosen actions.
We see this in the relationship between King Saul and his son, Jonathan. Let’s consider one episode from their lives, “Saul’s Rash Vows,” recorded in 1 Samuel 14:24–46. In this story, Saul is callous to the pain he causes, disregards his impact on others, and makes cruel choices.
Here’s the plot, in summary:
After a long day of fighting their enemy (the Philistines), the army of Israel comes to the forest. They’re starving. They see some honey on the ground, but no one dares touch it, because the abusive king had sworn a rash vow: “Nobody eats till sundown” (see 1 Samuel 14:24). Then along comes Jonathan, who didn’t hear the oath, and he sticks his staff into the honey and eats. Surely his dad will retract the curse, right? Given that Jonathan acted in ignorance, and they’re all starving? No. Saul goes on a crazed manhunt and makes rash vow #2: “Whoever ate after I said ‘no eating,’ even if it’s my own son, he’s a dead man” (see 14:39). When Jonathan was finally exposed as the culprit, he says these awful words, resigned to his fate: “Here I am; I will die” (14:43b). What kind of father is this?
Then Saul makes rash vow #3: “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan” (14:44). Are we at abuse yet?
Fortunately the people had more sense than this abusive king. “So the people ransomed Jonathan” (14:45b) . . . from his own dad.
When is behavior abusive? How far is too far?
This wasn’t an isolated incident. In 1 Samuel 20:33, Saul hurls his spear at Jonathan over dinner. We can assume that Jonathan—a prince of Israel and David’s best friend—had some deep father wounds.
Can you relate? For too many of us, the answer is yes, and if not us, then someone we know and love bears a deep father wound. God wants to heal father wounds, and there is no shame in saying you have one. In fact, that’s a great first step toward healing. By God’s grace, you can be healed from those wounds. God the Father fills the void of all human father failure and heals the hurt of every human father wound.
Our Father in heaven, because You adopted us as Your children, we’ve received Your Spirit, “by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father’” (Romans 8:15b)! Thank You for loving me as Your own. Thank You that I have access to You through Jesus. Lord, please heal my wounds and others’, and help us not to replicate those wounds. In the strong name of Jesus I pray, amen.
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