Turner

I have always liked the passion in Turner's paintings. Today I found this book on the painter. It was in a charity shop – £1.50. Bargain! Fascinating to set him in the context of his social and artistic times. Gives me a much better appreciation of his genius and focus.

Psalm 128:3-4, “Family”

“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD.” (Psalms 128:3–4 NIV)

Home

It’s nice to come home to a warm welcome. Some do not have this privilege. In Japan it is possible to rent a friend for around £7 an hour. Surely that is not God’s intention for us? How do we make sure God’s blessings on our home relationships come to fruition?

It is a life lived in obedience to God which results in a settled home life and a hope-filled future. That is the significance of taking verse 1 of this Psalm seriously,

“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways.” (Psalms 128:1 NIV)

Without this kind of humility before God we can never expect to see our friendships, marriages and families as blessed as they could be.

Marriage

Husbands who walk with the Lord bless their wives. If you are a Christian you are commanded to love your wife – even if you feel she does not ‘deserve’ it – for that is the way Jesus treats us,

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy” (Ephesians 5:25–26 NIV)

Is your wife happy within her home like the woman in this Psalm? If not take a good hard look at the quality of your love towards her.

The fact that the woman is ‘within’ the house points to her faithfulness. In other words she is not wayward (Proverbs 7:11). The vine here symbolises fruitfulness, sexual charm (Song of Songs 7:8-12), & festivity (Judges 9:13). Wives, is your husband seeing you as a ‘fruitful’ spouse? Why not ask one another – “What one thing could I do to make you happier?”

Parenthood

Parents who walk with the Lord bless their children. Are you being consistent in your encouragement & discipline of your children? Consistency is crucial if your children are to grow up believing that God’s standards mean something. If they do not mean something in the home they will mean nothing outside when they are alone with the pressures of the world upon them. Bless your children as they shoot up before they shoot off!

Family

The emphasis here is on the results of faithful reverence and walking with God, but the clear implication is that the blessings that come from this are never intended to stop with one person. A life lived walking in God’s way is a life geared at blessing others, Acts 20:35.

Being generous increases our strength and causes the people around us to become fruitful. If we want to see a blessing on not only ourselves, but on all those around us we will do well to heed the call from verse 1 to fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

A person with this attitude will never be without a family of blessing.

Psalm 127, “Overview”

“A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves. Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” (Psalms 127:0–5 NIV)

Reward

The theme of Psalm 127 is ‘reward’. What an encouraging topic! Everyone loves a reward.

Companies reward our ‘loyalty’ with vouchers and ‘points’ (although their motives for doing so may not be pure!). Rewards are offered for information leading to the capture or conviction of criminals. Parents often keep reward charts attached to the fridge to record good behaviour and, when enough ‘stars’ have been accumulated, reward their children in some way.

Our culture is somewhat obsessed with being rewarded. A recent book called “The Secret” seems to claim that the universe wants to reward you with whatever you desire. Apart from the fact that this must be impossible (some people’s desires will be mutually exclusive) – it is also undesirable (what we want is not always healthy).

Comprehensive

Instead of the vagueness of a universe-inspired reward, this Psalm is rooted in the very real parts of life where reward matter most to us.

Psalm 127 comprehensively covers three common areas of life which are often areas where we feel anxious. Those areas are the house (v1), the city (v1) and the family (verses 3-5). The Psalmist reminds us that all these areas depend for their success on God. Without the Lord we can do nothing of lasting value.

The Psalmist is not saying that we are not responsible for our actions, or that we do not have a part to play in building, watching or working. But he is saying that all the building, watching and working in the world will not guarantee a reward – we are dependent on God for everything.

Warning

This is the only one of the Psalms of Ascent written by Solomon. He was a man blessed with a great deal of wisdom. This Psalm reveals that wisdom and shows that he was not just intelligent, but that he understood that godly wisdom was to be lived in the real world.

However, we know from the his life that Solomon’s wisdom did not prevent him from committing many of the mistakes he warns against in this very Psalm. Have a look at 1 King 9:10-19 (building), and 1 King 11:7ff. (kingdom and marriages). It is vital that we pay attention to living what we preach,

“..I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:27 NIV)

Study this Psalm – but be sure to practice it too.