Stephen Caswell © 2004
In the Abstract Not The Concrete
Jim Brown was a famous child psychologist who had written many books on children and child training. One day, he was enjoying a cold drink after finishing his new concrete driveway. He walked out on the front porch to view the results of his hard work. To his horror he saw his children had run through the wet concrete and left their footprints in it. Seeing this, Jim let fly with a flurry of angry words. His wife rebuked him saying, your behavior is atrocious. I thought you loved children. He replied, I do love them in the abstract, but not in the concrete. Fatherhood can be the most frustrating or the most rewarding adventure in a man’s life! Today is Father's Day, and it would be wrong for me not to share a word with our dad's. God has a special role for men to fulfill, just as He has for mothers. Psalm 128 shares 3 qualities of good fathers: Fearful, Fruitful, Faithful.
a. His Life Psalm 128:1: Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways.
What does the word blessed mean? The Hebrew word, אֶשֶׁר, here means two things, blessed and happy. Both meanings are correct. The Psalmist describes two attributes that draw God's blessing. Firstly, the blessed man fears God. To fear, יָרֵא means to worship, revere or respect the Lord and what He says. It is not the cringing fear of a slave before a master but the loving reverence of a child to his father. This leads to obedience. Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. - Oswald Chambers
Runner Liddell Stood Firm
For months Eric Liddell trained with the purpose of winning the 100-meter race at the Olympic races of 1924. Many sportswriters predicted he would win. Then Eric learned the 100-meter race was scheduled for Sunday. This posed a problem: Eric believed that he could not honor God by running in the contest on the Lord’s Day. His fans were stunned by his refusal. Some who had praised him now called him a fool. The English Olympic Committee and the Prince of Wales sought to change His mind. But Eric stood firm. He feared God not man! Suddenly a runner dropped out of the 400-meter race, scheduled on a weekday. Eric offered to fill the slot, even though this was four times as long as the race for which he had trained. When the race was run, Eric Liddell set a record of 47.6 seconds. The US coach gave Eric a note just before the race, He who honors me him will I honor!
The Lord is looking for men who will honor Him above all others. 1 Samuel 2:30b says: for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. In this passage, Eli was condemned for honoring his wicked sons more than the Lord. The man that fears God will not seek to please men when it offends the Lord. Secondly, the blessed man walks in God’s ways.
Psalm 37:23: The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Fear is an inward emotion whilst walk refers to outward actions. Why is the God fearing man blessed? Because he avoids the trouble sin brings. The believer who really enjoys life to the hilt is the one who acknowledges the Lord in every area of life and who walks in practical obedience to the Word of God. Psalm 34:11-15: Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. I’ve been asked a number of times, how do you please everyone? I reply, you can’t; everyone has a different view. I seek to please the Lord! He’s the One to fear. This was the difference between King Saul and King David. David feared God, Saul feared man!
Accusing is Satan’s work. Often its true. We are not perfect so we need mercy. From God & man.
b. His Labor
128:2: When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
Firstly, the blessed man has the health and strength to work. Many men aren't able to work and depend on others for their daily needs. But the blessed man enjoys good health from God. Secondly, they benefit from their labor. God allows them to enjoy the fruits of their work. Deuteronomy 8:18a: And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth. God protects their produce from thieves and natural disasters. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13: I know that nothing is better for men than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God. The righteous man is happy and things go well with him. God makes sure of this. The word well means good, prosperity, wealth, favor, glad, best. This man's life is a sheer delight.
Job is an example of a man being blessed by the Lord. God blessed his family, his livestock, his crops and his wealth. He protected Job and multiplied his possessions. Satan knew that God had blessed him. Job 1:2-4; 9-10: Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East. And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. So Satan answered the Lord and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
Why did God bless Job so bountifully? The answer is found in Job 1:1 & 5: There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus Job did regularly. Job feared God, hated evil and offered sacrifices for his sin. He prayed for his family. The Bible says that the Lord blesses that kind of man.
c. His Long Life
Psalm 128:5-6: The Lord bless you out of Zion, And may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!
Old age is a blessing from God. Many people die early because of sin. God promises to give a long life to those that fear Him. This is a general rule and cannot be applied every time. But it is not just the length of life that is important it is the quality of life too. The righteous man will see good all the days of His life. His life will be full and worth living. Verse 6 says that he will see his grandchildren. God blessed Job with a long, fruitful and fulfilling life.
Job 42:12-17: Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days. Job lived to be about 200 years old.
Secret Of Fearlessness
Of the memorials in Westminster Abbey there is not one that gives a nobler thought than that inscribed on the monument to Lord Lawrence — simply his name, with the date of his death, and these words: He feared man so little because he feared God so much.
The question to ask is am I living the kind of life that God can bless? God won’t bless those who don’t fear Him. He can't. If we fear God in our hearts then we will walk in His ways. The inward emotion leads to the outward action. Do we obey His laws like Eric Liddell who wouldn’t run on Sunday? Do we fear God or men? Those that fear God are blessed in their life and labor! God also lengthens their days and allows them to see good all those days.
a. His Wife
Psalm 128:3a: Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house,
The God fearing man establishes a godly home. The Husband is the head of the home and as such has the responsibility for setting the spiritual tone of the family. Prayer and family devotions are the responsibility of us fathers. Men must encourage their wives and children concerning the spiritual things of life. The man that fears God imparts this fear to his family. To have peace and love in a marriage is a gift that is next to the knowledge of the gospel. - Martin Luther.
The wife is called a fruitful vine. Why a vine? Because a vine is a tender plant that needs support. Husbands must support their wives in their roles in the home. Peter said the wife was a weaker vessel needing understanding. Vines are also valuable plants because of their fruit. The fruit is two fold. Firstly, children are the fruit of the wife. Her ministry in the home involves the nurture and care of the children. Children truly are God’s blessing to married couples.
Secondly, a wife's service around the home is also like good fruit. The psalmist says that the primary area of fruitfulness is in the very heart of your house. Contrary to today's opinion that housewives are second class citizens, the Bible says that they find their greatest blessing in the home. When God visited Abraham he asked him where Sarah was. Abraham said in the tent. This was exactly where she should have been. This is not an outdated doctrine. God's blessing rests on those who live His way, not theirs. Titus 2:4-5: That the older women admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
b. His Children Psalm 128:3b: Your children like olive plants all around your table.
Raising children involves a lot of love, instruction, discipline and personal example.
Love. God's greatest blessings to us are our children. Therefore we ought to love them. The children here are called olive plants. The olive shoots around the base of the parent tree, fresh and vigorous, picture the children around the family table. The family meal table should be place of fellowship and enrichment. We must shower our children with our love. Tell them we love them. Love is spelt T.I.M.E. God commended Abraham for raising a godly seed. Genesis 18:19: For I have known him in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.
Instruction. God fearing men bring up their children to fear God too. The children are gathered in the home indicating that they are healthy and well trained. Sadly, families rarely share meals together anymore. Olive trees were valuable because of their fruit and oil. Unlike other fruit trees Olive Trees take about 40 years to produce fruit. Even though they don't achieve their full potential until adulthood, we can still enjoy them now. Truly, children are a long term investment. It takes time to train children into godly adults. Deuteronomy 6:4-7: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
We are responsible to train them to be obedient; to teach our children about the Lord. Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. The family meal table is a good time to talk about spiritual matters. The meal table can be a good time to have family devotions. Let’s make the most of this time with our children. Ephesians 6:4: And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. I have had the joy of leading 3 of our children to Christ at home!
Example. God blessed Job with 10 wonderful children. They were a delight to him. I am sure that Job’s example impacted his children. The way they lived seems to indicate this. The children enjoyed each other’s company since they met frequently to celebrate their birthdays. They loved and cared for each other. The fact that their father offered special sacrifices after each birthday feast does not prove their celebration was wicked. It only shows that Job was a pious man and wanted to be sure his family was right with God. Job regularly prayed for his children.
Discipline. Discipline is an important part of child training. God commands us to do it. Proverbs 29:17: Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul. God should know what is right because He made us. Obedient children are a delight and bring honor to their parents; but disobedient children bring heartache and sorrow. Proverbs 13:24: He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. The man who fears the Lord teaches this fear to his children. Some times it seems that discipline isn’t working. But it is. It just takes time to mould young lives and produce character. Hebrews 12:11: Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Disciplined Children are blessed. The only thing that parents can take to heaven is their children. -- Gigi Graham's
Billy Graham Gives Advice
Billy Graham, offered parents 6 suggestions on how to curb juvenile delinquency: 1. Take time with your children, 2. Set your children a good example, 3. Give your children ideals for living, 4. Have a lot of activities planned, 5. Discipline your children, 6. Teach them about God.
c. His Grandchildren Psalm 128:6a: Yes, may you see your children’s children.
The man who fears God will live to see God bless his posterity. The blessed man passes His godly heritage on to his descendants. Psalm 127:3: Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Because Job feared the Lord he lived to see his great grandchildren. God delights in the homes of the righteous. He wants to see godliness passed down from generation to generation. Proverbs 17:6: Children’s children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father. Psalm 128:4 commands us to look closely at the blessings God gives the righteous. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. We can learn much by examining the righteous man's life. It is well worth imitating.
Descendants Of Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards was the son of a godly home. His father was a preacher and before him his mother’s father. Trace the history of the offspring of this godly man. More than 400 of them have been traced, and they include 14 college presidents, and 100 professors, 100 of them have been ministers of the Gospel, missionaries, and theological teachers. More than 100 of them were lawyers and judges. Out of the whole number 60 have been doctors, and as many more, authors of high rank, or editors of journals. In fact, almost every conspicuous American industry has had as its promoters one or more of the offspring of the Edward’s stock since the remote ancestor was married in the closing half of the seventeenth century.
God blesses the home of the righteous man also. His wife is blessed in the very heart of the home. He teaches his children, love, instruction, example and discipline. They learn to fear God walking in His ways. Remember Job's family. Father's do you rule your homes well? Do you love your wife and children? Do you instruct your children to fear God? Do you share special times together at meal times and go out together? Do you set a good example before them? Do you pray with your wife for your marriage and your children? Do you lead the family devotions? Grandfathers, do you pray for your grandchildren?
a. His Church
Psalm 128:5: The Lord bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
Jerusalem was the center of worship in Israel. The man God blesses brings blessing to others as well. Warren Wiersbe said this: God doesn't bless us just to make us happy; He blesses us to make us a blessing. God uses Him to bless others. Because of this man’s faithfulness God blesses the whole community. The influence of Godly leaders should not under-estimated. Samuel feared the Lord and brought the people back to God. He started a revival in the land Israel. King Saul on the other hand feared men and disobeyed God's Word. The Lord couldn't bless him and took the kingdom from him. God wants men to be leaders in society. This starts in their home. If they serve well there God can appoint them to positions of leadership in the Church. The key is fearing God, because if you fear men then you will disobey the Lord.
b. His Country Psalm 128:6: Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!
We should never underestimate the influence of one man who fears God. Joseph feared the Lord and God appointed him to be prime minister of Egypt. He was second only to Pharaoh himself. David feared the Lord and became the ancestor of the Messiah. Daniel was one man who feared God in Babylon. Yet God also appointed him to the position of Prime minister. Nehemiah feared God and became governor of Judah. All of these men feared God and brought blessing upon the kingdoms they ruled over. God has ordained men to be the leaders of society. The testimony of a godly man accomplishes much. Godly men enable the Lord to bring peace on a nation.
The man who fears God is blessed in his community. He faithfully serves the Lord and impacts society. He becomes a channel through which God can pour blessings to others. The testimony of a righteous man should not be underestimated. His influence impacts the following generations. Will you be such a man? Will you fear God and walk in His ways? Will you live a life that God can bless? Will you be a channel that He can use to bless? Let us be men that God can use to bless this district and beyond. Let us fear the Lord and walk in His ways!
Today we have seen how God blesses those who fear Him and walk in His ways.
1. Fearful – Devoted to his Lord, God blesses his life, labor and the length of life.
2. Fruitful – Devoted to his family, God blesses his wife, children and grandchildren.
3. Faithful – Devoted to his country, God blesses his Church and Community.
Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.