Text: Psalm 127-128
Title: The Christian Family Pt. 6: The Blessing of Children
Date: March 12th, 2023
Location: Christ Covenant Church – Centralia, Washington
Father let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
This morning we are shifting gears in our series on The Christian Family. For five weeks we talked about marriage and now we come to the fruit of marriage which is children. This morning we will look at the blessing of children, and next week we’ll talk about the duties of children. So that’s where we are going.
- In these two Psalms before us, God extols children as a blessing.
- Psalm 127:3 says, “children are an inheritance from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
- Psalm 128 describes the blessing of a man who fears the Lord as having a wife who is like a fruitful vine and children who are like olive plants around the table.
- Fruitfulness was the divine command given to Adam and Eve, “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” And these two Psalms are a portrait of that fulfillment. There are many echoes here of that primordial garden in Eden, and God’s promise to Eve that one day her seed would crush the serpent’s head.
- So children are undoubtedly a blessing, they are gift from God, but like all gifts and all blessings, if stewarded poorly or unfaithfully, they can become curses and a ruin.
- Just as marriage is a good gift from God but can become a source of great heartache and pain, so also children.
- And so for as much God extols children as a blessing, we must always keep in mind that blessings can be squandered. Children are born sinners, born with carnal flesh that is at enmity with God. And until that sinful nature has been subdued by the Holy Spirit, that blessing is in danger of becoming a curse.
- Where did all the evil in our world come from? Why is our world so screwed up? Well, it’s because of people. We are all somebody’s child. Every murderer, every criminal was a little baby once upon a time.
- Scripture speaks of this is in terms of being either a child of the serpent, or a child of the promise. Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers, he says the devil is their daddy, and meanwhile the righteous are called the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the offspring of Christ.
- Galatians 4:26, 28 says, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all… Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”
- So all children are either children of the serpent or children of the promise. If you walk according to the flesh you will die (you will be regarded as the serpent’s seed. But if you walk according to the Spirit, you will live and you will live free. And it is only this latter group that is a true blessing, and that is what Psalm 127-128 foretell.
So let us walk through these two short Psalms and draw from them some lessons for parenting and childrearing.
Psalm 127, Verse 1
1 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it:
Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
- This Psalm is ultimately about the building of God’s church. Solomon’s temple was a figure of the holy city to come, and we are that city, we are the New Jerusalem, we are the place where God dwells.
- During the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews labored to rebuild the temple and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. You remember there were times when they labored with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. Half of the men stood guard as soldiers while the other half worked construction. And yet here in verse 1 we see that, unless the Lord is the builder and the Lord is standing guard, all of our earthly labor is in vain.
- This certainly applies to Christian households.
- Except Christ be the cornerstone, and the Holy Spirit the mortar that holds everything together, all our labor is in vain.
- There are men who work long hours. There are women who sacrifice their bodies to bear children. There are meals to be cooked, dishes to wash, and endless piles of laundry to fold. But none of that is of any lasting value unless God is at work within you.
- Colossians 3:23-24 says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
- When God builds something, He loves to use human instruments.
- He used prophets and apostles to write His Word.
- He used Bezalel to craft His tabernacle.
- He used David and Solomon, and stonemasons and carpenters to build His Temple.
- And He uses pastors and parents and faithful discipline to build children up for His Kingdom.
- Except the Lord build the House, except we work heartily as unto Him, we labor in vain that build it.
Psalm 127, Verse 2 continues…
2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows:
For so he giveth his beloved sleep.
- Here the Psalmist declares the vanity of working without faith, of working from a sense of anxiety and stress, instead of working from a place of peace.
- Do you know what it’s like to eat the bread of anxious toil? To rush through meals because there are not enough hours in the day.
- This is the affliction of modern man. Always busy, always wired, always eating the bread of anxious toil.
- Now we know from many other places in the Bible that it is good to work hard, it is good to get up earlyand at times to stay up late (remember the Proverbs 31 woman, or Ps. 63), Paul says he worked harder than any of the apostles, and so what is the difference between that kind of work and the work that is done in vain?
- The different is faith. The difference is the spirit in which we obey.
- Are you doing what God says is most important? Are your priorities His priorities? What is the attitude of your heart as you get up early, or you sit up late? Are you raising children with a spirit of joy and gratitude? What spirit are you of?
- Paul says in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
- So what kind of spirit are you working in? What is driving you? Is it love or is it worry? Is it faith or is it fear?
- Are you like Martha, full of cares and troubled about many things, who forgets that Christ is sitting in your home (Luke 10:41)?
- How are you sleeping? How are your anxiety levels? Who is the one that you are trusting to raise your children? Except the Lord build the house, except the Lord be at work within you, you labor in vain, “For so he giveth his beloved sleep.”
- Now it is part of the divine humor that God sets the blessing of sleep right next to one of the main thieves of sleep, namely children!
Psalm 127, Verse 3
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
And the fruit of the womb is his reward.
- Now in case you missed it, sleep is a metaphor for trusting God (it is a mini Sabbath).And when you trust God, he gives you whatever you need to obey Him.
- God never requires of us something He does not supply. And this is crucial to remember when it comes to raising children.
- If God desires godly offspring as He says in Malachi 2:15, then He will give us whatever we need to do that, including instructions from His Word.
- Proverbs 22:6 says, Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.
- Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; Yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” You want sleep, discipline your son.
- Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; But the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
- Parenting requires us to walk by faith. And that means diligently doing what God commands in His Word. The father and mother who sleeps well is the father and mother who obeys God, gives thanks, and then leaves the outcome to Him. We plant, we water, we weed, we prune, but God is the one who gives the growth.
- Children are fruit, so treat them as such.
- Finally in verse 4-5, we see that children are to grow up into weapons.
Psalm 127, Verses 4-5
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
So are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
They shall not be ashamed,
But they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
- The King James obscures this a little bit, but children here in Hebrew (בְּנֵ֣י הַנְּעוּרִֽים׃) refers specifically to sons. Sons especially are to be arrows in the hand of a mighty man.
- That means raising sons that are sharp, sons that are dangerous, sons that are unafraid of enemies in the gate.
- Godly sons are the church’s private militia, they are the future elders and cherubim who will stand guard at the door.
- And in this effeminate age, we must go out of our way to raise courageous sons.
- This means protecting them from pornography and women who will steal their strength.
- It means encouraging them, respecting them, challenging them to take risks, and loving them like crazy whatever the outcome.
- The same of course goes for daughters but in a different mode. Daughters must be sharpened so they can see through the lies of feminism.So they can see through the myriad deceptions that dishonor motherhood and tell them to exchange marriage and children for a “successful” career.
- What the world extols in the strong independent woman, is an abomination in the eyes of God.
- How is the woman saved according 1 Timothy 2:15? Paul says, “She shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
- So sons must be trained to defend and protect the household, and daughters must be trained to beautify the household, to make it into a home.
- We see this same picture from a different angle in Psalm 128.
Psalm 128, verses 1-2
1 Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord;
That walketh in his ways.
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands:
Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
- Here we have the contrast to the man who labors in vain and eats the bread of anxious toil. The blessed man fears God, walks in His Ways, and enjoys the fruits of his labors.
- He does honest work as unto the Lord, and so his soul is satisfied.
- This is the man who has learned the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 9 which says, “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. 8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.”
- The wise man knows He is vapor, He knows that life is too short to complain about, especially when heaven has been promised to us and is right around the corner.
- The wise man knows that his life and his wife and his children are all gifts from God, and they are to be enjoyed and delighted in for what they are. And what are they?
Psalm 128, verses 3-4
3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine
By the sides of thine house:
Thy children like olive plants
Round about thy table.
4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.
- Here the wife is likened to a fruitful vine. She is what makes the home sweet like grapes, and glorious like wine.
- Where is she is located? In the heart of the home. This phrase “by the sides of thine house” refers to the walls of the innermost chamber, or interior court of an ancient home. Grape vines are delicate and rest upon a trellis or some kind of wall, and that is the picture here. She is what adorns and nourishes the household.
- Like the trees in the garden of Eden, she is both pleasant to the sight, and good for food (Gen. 2:9). That is the portrait of a blessed home.
- While the wife is like a fruitful vine, the children are like olive plants around the table.
- Now most of us probably don’t know much about olive trees, but this is a deep and potent sign to consider.
- Olive trees take years of care and wise pruning to produce good fruit.
- In Leviticus 19 we see that Israel was not even allowed to eat the fruit of the vine until after the 5th year from it being planted.
- Depending on the soil and other factors, an olive tree at its fastest takes 7-8 years to reach full production, and some can take as long as 65-80 years to reach a stable yield. But when an olive tree is well planted and well pruned and well nourished, it can last for thousands of years. There are olive trees still bearing fruit today, that are over 2,000 years old (and some are claimed to be much older)!
- One of the reasons an olive branch is a symbol of peace is because without years of peace, no olives will ever grow. Young olive plants, like children, need a peaceful and stable environment if you want them to produce fruit. Olive plants, like children, are a long-term investment.
- The task of parenting is like the task of pruning, and pruning takes great skill and wisdom. Listen to this excerpt from the Mediterranean Garden Society on how to care for an olive tree, and notice how the many parallels to parenting:
- “The pruning of young trees follows two contradictory principles that must be balanced. The first is to shape the tree into the form that, except for frost damage, will be its structure for life. The other is to allow the young tree to grow and build energy reserves. An old tree can be chopped and hacked with impunity and will rebound with enormous vigour from the energy reserves in the roots and trunk. The young tree will not. A determination to form the perfect shape by excessive pruning will weaken the young tree and stunt its growth for a number of years. Achieving the right balance is part of the realm of art and talent that distinguishes the good pruner from the bad.”
- Now this would have been obvious to the Jews whose lives and worship depended on olives. The Mount of Olives near the temple, is what likely supplied the oil they needed to keep the lamps burning in the Temple (Ex. 27:20).
- So when God likens children to olives plants around your table, just think about that balancing act. The balancing act of of pruning enough to give it it’s life-long shape, but not over-pruning and stunting its growth.
- David says in Psalm 52:8, “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.”
- This is what we want our children to be: evergreen and bearing fruit forever, because they are rooted in the house of God.
- Olive trees take years of care and wise pruning to produce good fruit.
- Psalm 128 closes with these final words.
Psalm 128, verses 5-6
5 The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion:
And thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem
All the days of thy life.
6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children,
And peace upon Israel.
- The blessing of the Lord is to see days of peace. Peaceful years where children grow up and marry and bear children of their own.
- If there is any prayer that we should fervently ask God to answer, it is that all of our children to a thousand generations, until Christ’s return, keep covenant with Him. That not one would apostatize, not one would depart from the faith, and that each generation would be more godly than the last. That our children would surpass us in wisdom and virtue, and give unto their children even more than we ever gave them.
- That is the long game, that is the long-term investment, that is the work of faith, and except the Lord the house, they labor in vain that build it.
- In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.