Family in serious trouble (not just in this country, either; e.g. India [slavery], SE Asia [prostitution], China [1 child per]) – think first about current “social” issues, are really moral issues: abortion, same-sex marriage, the like. Many other things that seriously threaten family, not just external forces: attitudes and actions within relationships and homes have huge consequences. Daycare, electronic minders, delayed marriage if at all, career first, few children if any. Then there’s whole upside-down mindset about child-rearing: buddies not authority figures, disorders not lack of discipline, no accountability, etc.
And that’s if potential parents even have children! Women waiting to have children until >30, many not having children at all. At least… not giving birth until later or not at all. According to World Bank, USA has been at or below replacement rate since 1972. In 2006, 17 European nations were beyond point of no return, fertility rate of 1.3 or less. Following year, here in this country only 41% of Americans considered having children as “very important”.
Population growth in US result of other things than birth rate: immigration, e.g. In 2013, 1 in 4 were first generation and their children. Say all that to say this: by and large, children not viewed with same favor now as 50+ years ago. More apt to be thought of as liabilities, accidental consequences of perhaps immoral behavior.
A Seattle mother-of-three is suing her community clinic after claiming that staff gave her a flu shot instead of her birth control injection. Shortly afterward she discovered that she was pregnant with daughter Sandra, who was born in 2012 with a brain malformation affecting motor and speech. Her lawyers are arguing that the clinic is responsible for what they’re calling a ‘wrongful life’ due to the clinic’s negligence. She says she loves the child, but already had two little girls and didn’t want any more.
If we are to believe what Bible says, children are important, have been since the beginning. Have been associated with blessing… from beginning, too. Notice Gen. 1:28
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Two basic concepts connected there: productivity and parenting. Our culture tries to not merely distinguish but radically separate them – either / or: career or children; can’t seem to reconcile the two. What God expects is people to do both: make a place for family, then produce the family for the place. Psalmist makes it plain that none of that happens by man’s genius alone – to attempt will be setup for frustration, spinning wheels. Man has his part in big picture, God-given responsibilities; God has his part, what he alone can and must do. The two must coincide for there to be forward progress, personal satisfaction.
Important note: not everything in scripture directly applies to you – what doesn’t apply can be instructive, equipping you to influence others. And… what does not directly apply today may at another stage in your life.
Two primary things in view in this psalm: if we are to have a future, the Lord must build and the Lord must bless. Apart from that, will be waste of time and effort. If themes and language sound familiar, is for good reason: Solomon the author, just like Ecclesiastes. Could say Solomon went overboard on the building and begetting thing, must admit he had benefit of experience from which to write!
A. the Lord must build the house v.1-2
contrasting conditions identified here: unless “this” is true, “that” will be the outcome… 2x; then a btw, in case you missed it, “that” will be result
important point going in – is not the activities in themselves being criticized, is the way in which they are done, mindset of approach
two potential errors in thinking – over-confidence and over-work; whether result of fall or not, don’t know for sure; however…. easily succumb to both in all areas of life
working alone fruitless (1a)
just for minute, think about who penned this line: Solomon! 2 Chron 8:1-6 – built temple, built palaces for himself and wife, built up cities in Galilee, and list goes on
his conclusion: unless working on same building project as God is with same end in view, will come up empty in the end
empty of lasting value, truly worthwhile purpose, real satisfaction; the one project that endured: the Temple, built with God’s sanction, direction, provision
let’s elaborate a little on idea of a house: could have in mind building with four walls… or more like his palace did – took longer to build than Temple did, would have been home/government complex, remember how many wives/children!
probably Solomon had different kind of house in mind, the one his father David told about: 2 Sam. 7:5, 17
God said to David, “Would you build a house for Me? I will build you a house.” – a play on words there: David would build a house (Temple), God would build a house (dynasty, e.g., House of York, House of Windsor)
Kim family in N. Korea attempting by force to establish / maintain dynasty, in their case one that takes place of God
Solomon recognized only God can establish enduring family line; even though he tried through alliances with Eqyptians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites, would ultimately be line God ordained that Messiah would come
principle sets up 2nd stanza – raising family God entrusts without God’s help will be ultimately fruitless and empty
watching alone fruitless (1b)
think maybe are smarter than God, or at least can give him some help; take it on yourself to guard the stuff, keep it safe
e.g., raising family (building the house), figure you can guard spouse and kids from harm; most vigilant controlling guardian no match for Satan and his tricks
young fellow, set up “sting” with parents involvement/approval – girls 13, 14, 15 – would they meet total stranger; parents thought “no way”, huge surprise! 3 or 4 social media contacts, they were hooked
working too much fruitless (2a)
so didn’t work out as expected, must mean have to work harder, longer hours, less rest, put up with anxiety and hardship
God gave work as well as sleep, both are to be a blessing, not a curse; is frustration that accompanies work in fallen world that is curse, not work itself
working fingers to bone will only get you bony fingers, not a guarantee of healthy family and secure future apart from God
hard work + trusting God = good rest
can count on God to give the one he loves and who loves him in return a restful sleep – satisfaction of productive work, comfort of trust in God and knowing he is on duty around the clock
B. the Lord will bless the heritage v.3-5
God-ordained provision (3)
God supplies children to those whom he expects to build a house; children are clear sign from God that human race has a future, at least for a while
profound insult to God when people reject his good gift – abortion, parking in daycare, other forms of neglect/abandonment
if God gives gift of a child, he will do all necessary to enable planet to sustain that life; we don’t have to try and play God by saving the planet
certainly are times when any parent might challenge God’s POV, but children are intended by God to be a reward to parents!
greatest reward is when child raised in God-fearing home responds in faith to Gospel, begins process of carrying on godly legacy for another generation
godly children are God’s provision of treasure to a family, a home that can be matched by no other; and… typically gives godly kids to godly parents
just like work not result of curse, neither is having children; is the pain and sorrow associated that comes from curse
shows just how upside-down worldly perspective on children and parenting is – treating as liability what God intended as asset
God-supplied protection (4-5)
further insight on God’s reasoning for giving children to parents: joy, yes, but more than that – protection and security, described by two images… battlefield and courtroom
first compared to warrior having ample ammunition – a quiver full of arrows; this should be one of goals in view as children are trained
obviously, children start out needy; but God intends purposeful transition over course of life from parents protecting/providing security for children to reverse
design not for children to take all they need, all they can get, then sayonara-you’re on your own until can collect inheritance
God’s purpose is that when time comes, children will be prepared and willing to provide security for parents, not necessarily only in old age either
for children to be useful skilled arrows, requires thoughtful consistent biblical training by parents during early years
how many arrows it takes to fill quiver depends on circumstances and needs known only to God
second, described as interacting with those who sit in the gate – “the city gate, where the legal and economic issues of the community were settled.”
clearest example from Bible – Boaz – Ruth 4:1-3 “Boaz went to the gate [of the town] and sat down there. Soon, the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz called him by name and said, “Come over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.Then Boaz took 10 men of the city’s elders and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down.He said to the redeemer…” HCSB
all sorts of disputes, decisions made there – nature of setting was intended to maintain justice for all parties involved
when necessary, children expected by God to take initiative on behalf of parents, making sure they are not treated unjustly
not limited to “courtroom” issues, may not involve legal setting; principle applies in business, healthcare, civil affairs
point is that children expected to advocate for parents, provide appropriate assistance/protection in advanced years
like previous application, requires same kind of training and conveying of principles to children: “I bequeath a Christian heritage to my children and grandchildren — their personal faith and trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ as found in God’s Word, the Bible, the King James, would continue this Christian heritage.”
Group of people has individuals in all different places. Parents, grandparents, step-parents, not parents. Principles communicated in this psalm apply directly to some, not so directly to others. Regardless of specific circumstances, all have responsibility to promote and encourage this model for family whenever God gives opportunity. Seek God’s help to follow model with resources he has entrusted to you. Seek God’s help to encourage and support others in sphere of influence who have primary responsibility for child-training. iow, do all you can with God’s help to strengthen and increase spread of Christian homes within our community.