1. GUIDANCE FOR BOTH PARENTS
a. What was the instruction given by the angel of the Lord to Manoah’s wife, and how did she and her husband both reveal their zeal to honor the Lord? Judges 13:2–12; James 1:5.
“Let every mother go often to her Saviour with the prayer, ‘Teach us, how shall we order the child, and what shall we do unto him?’ Let her heed the instruction which God has given in His word, and wisdom will be given her as she shall have need.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 573.
“Upon fathers as well as mothers rests a responsibility for the child’s earlier as well as its later training, and for both parents the demand for careful and thorough preparation is most urgent. Before taking upon themselves the possibilities of fatherhood and motherhood, men and women should become acquainted with the laws of physical development—with physiology and hygiene, with the bearing of prenatal influences, with the laws of heredity, sanitation, dress, exercise, and the treatment of disease; they should also understand the laws of mental development and moral training.”—Education, p. 276.
2. A SOLEMN RESPONSIBILITY
a. What counsel was repeated to both parents? Why? Judges 13:13, 14, 24.
“The well-being of the child will be affected by the habits of the mother. Her appetites and passions are to be controlled by principle. There is something for her to shun, something for her to work against, if she fulfills God’s purpose for her in giving her a child. If before the birth of her child she is self-indulgent, if she is selfish, impatient, and exacting, these traits will be reflected in the disposition of the child. Thus many children have received as a birthright almost unconquerable tendencies to evil.
“But if the mother unswervingly adheres to right principles, if she is temperate and self-denying, if she is kind, gentle, and unselfish, she may give her child these same precious traits of character.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 372, 373.
“It was not enough that Samson, the child who was to deliver Israel, should have a good legacy at his birth. This was to be followed by careful training. From infancy he was to be trained to habits of strict temperance.”—Ibid., p. 379.
b. Why is the privilege of parenthood a very solemn matter? Psalm 127:3.
“The father should bear in mind that the treatment of his wife before the birth of his offspring will materially affect the disposition of the mother during that period, and will have very much to do with the character developed by the child after its birth. Many fathers have been so anxious to obtain property fast that higher considerations have been sacrificed, and some men have been criminally neglectful of the mother and her offspring, and too frequently the lives of both have been sacrificed to the strong desire to accumulate wealth. Many do not immediately suffer this heavy penalty for their wrongdoing, and are asleep as to the result of their course. The condition of the wife is sometimes no better than that of a slave, and sometimes she is equally guilty with the husband, of squandering physical strength, to obtain means to live fashionably. It is a crime for such to have children, for their offspring will often be deficient in physical, mental, and moral worth, and will bear the miserable, close, selfish impress of their parents, and the world will be cursed with their meanness.”—Selected Messages, bk2, pp. 428, 429.
3. LABORING FOR SPIRITUAL SUCCESS
a. Name some keys to enjoying greater peace in family life. Philippians 4:5–8.
“The mother, before the birth of her children, is often permitted to labor beyond her strength. Her burdens and cares are seldom lessened, and that period, which should be to her of all others, a time of rest, is one of fatigue, sadness, and gloom. By too great exertion on her part, she deprives her offspring of that nutrition which nature has provided for it, and by heating her blood, she imparts to it, a bad quality of blood. The offspring is robbed of its vitality, robbed of physical and mental strength. The father should study how to make the mother happy. He should not allow himself to come to his home with a clouded brow.”—Selected Messages, bk2, pp. 427, 428.
“It is the duty of men and women to act with reason in regard to their labor. They should not exhaust their energies unnecessarily, for by doing this, they not only bring suffering upon themselves but, by their errors, bring anxiety, weariness, and suffering upon those they love. What calls for such an amount of labor? Intemperance in eating, and in drinking, and the desire for wealth have led to this intemperance in labor.”—Ibid., p. 429.
“Mothers, let your countenance be full of sunshine. Smile if you can, and the infant’s mind and heart will reflect the light of your countenance.”—The Adventist Home, p. 436.
b. Why did Israel urgently need to produce valiant men, and how does a similar need exist today? Judges 13:1; Jeremiah 2:12–14; 1 Corinthians 3:3.
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.
“But such a character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence. A noble character is the result of self-discipline, of the subjection of the lower to the higher nature—the surrender of self for the service of love to God and man.”—Education, p. 57.
4. THE INFLUENCE OF ASSOCIATION
a. What request did Samson make of his parents? Judges 14:1–3. Despite their good intentions, what perils might Samson’s parents have overlooked? 1 Corinthians 15:33.
“The town of Zorah being near the country of the Philistines, Samson came to mingle with them on friendly terms. Thus in his youth intimacies sprang up, the influence of which darkened his whole life.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 562.
“Great care should be taken by Christian youth in the formation of friendships and in the choice of companions. Take heed, lest what you now think to be pure gold turns out to be base metal. Worldly associations tend to place obstructions in the way of your service to God, and many souls are ruined by unhappy unions . . . with those who can never elevate or ennoble.”—Messages to Young People, p. 436.
“Fathers and mothers should feel that a duty devolves upon them to guide the affections of the youth, that they may be placed upon those who will be suitable companions. They should feel it a duty, by their own teaching and example, with the assisting grace of God, to so mold the character of the children from their earliest years that they will be pure and noble, and will be attracted to the good and true. Like attracts like; like appreciates like. Let the love for truth and purity and goodness be early implanted in the soul, and the youth will seek the society of those who possess these characteristics.”—Ibid., p. 466.
“While we shall not cease to warn and entreat and try to present the truth to the parents who are unbelievers, to mix and mingle with them in association will be to the ruin of your children.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, p. 74.
“Fathers and mothers, do you realize the importance of the responsibility resting on you? Do you allow your children to associate with other children without being present to know what kind of education they are receiving? Do not allow them to be alone with other children.”—Child Guidance, p. 114.
b. Who was responsible for the unhappiness in Samson’s life? Galatians 6:5, 7.
“Had Samson as faithfully obeyed the divine commands as faithfully as his parents had done, his would have been a nobler and happier destiny. But association with idolaters corrupted him.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 562.
5. GUIDANCE AVAILABLE
a. Why does God forbid marriage of believers to unbelievers? What have been the results of such alliances? Judges 3:5–8; Deuteronomy 7:3; Nehemiah 13:23–26.
“Never marry an unbeliever.”—Our High Calling, p. 257.
“The Lord has in His Word plainly instructed His people not to unite themselves with those who have not His love and fear before them. Such companions will seldom be satisfied with the love and respect which are justly theirs. They will constantly seek to gain from the God-fearing wife or husband some favor which shall involve a disregard of the divine requirements. To a godly man, and to the church with which he is connected, a worldly wife or a worldly friend is as a spy in the camp, who will watch every opportunity to betray the servant of Christ, and expose him to the enemy’s attacks.”—The Signs of the Times, September 27, 1910.
b. What should Christians prayerfully consider when seeking a spouse? 2 Corinthians 6:14–18; 1 Corinthians 7:39.
“In ancient times marriage engagements were generally made by the parents, and this was the custom among those who worshiped God. None were required to marry those whom they could not love; but in the bestowal of their affections the youth were guided by the judgment of their experienced, God-fearing parents. It was regarded as a dishonor to parents, and even a crime, to pursue a course contrary to this.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 171.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What knowledge better equips future parents to give children a strong foundation?
2. What types of circumstances make childbearing inadvisable?
3. Explain the secret of how God-fearing integrity is developed.
4. Why is it so important to be vigilant about associations formed in youth?
5. What guidelines are important in choosing a spouse?