Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Man Who Fears the Lord - Psalm 128

(You can read Psalm 128 here.)

Our culture seems to have a vendetta against the notion of the male-led home. From the school system to the work place to the market place – and in some instances – to the house of worship, there is an effort to decapitate the family. But the attempt to create an atmosphere of “equality” in the home, where all authority and responsibility is shared by the husband and wife, has resulted not in shared leadership, but a complete lack of leadership.

Why is the church in decline? Why is marriage in decline? I believe Psalm 128 gives us an indication. It provides a picture of the bliss and blessing enjoyed by a family in which the husband and father functions as the spiritual head, fearing God and walking in obedience. Conversely, it can be deduced that an absence of biblical male leadership in the home results in an absence of biblical families, which results in a lack of biblical churches, which results in a lack of biblical communities. Psalm 128 shows us what happens when men fear and obey Almighty God.

1. Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!

First of all, this verse says that all who fear the LORD will be blessed. That means man, woman, and child. So some might be inclined to say that this psalm is not pointed toward the man of a house. True it is written for all of us, but if we look closely at the rest of the psalm we will see that each of the blessings bestowed on the family are referred to in relation to the husband and father: …your wife…your children…thus shall the man be blessed. Women ought not be bothered by this – for the man is blessed by his wife and children being blessed.

The Word of God is clear that blessings come upon those who obey, while curses follow those who do not. What is the key characteristic of the blessed? Fear of the Lord.

We don’t do fear very well anymore. A failure to study the doctrine of God from both Testaments has led to a church that thinks of God as a sweet old uncle, something akin to Santa Claus, a buddy, rather than the sovereign Lord and God of all creation. The loving God who sent His Son to atone for our sins is also an infinitely holy God of wrath. Indeed, it is that holiness and wrath that made the sacrifice of His Son necessary in order to save men.

We would do well to read of the God who spoke the world into existence. We would do well to keep ever before us the God who drowned all but eight members of the human race as the just condemnation for their sinfulness. We would do well to remind ourselves of the God who struck dead the sons of Aaron for worshiping in a way that Yahweh had not prescribed. He is holy. He is awesome. He demands awe, reverence, and worship.

The man who fears the Lord is a man who humbly comes before the throne of grace, bowing before the God who made him, determined not to offer strange fire, but to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

Verse 1 says that the blessed man walks in His ways. This, of course, assumes that the man knows God’s ways. So, a blessed man is a man of the Word. We find in Psalm 119 that “walking in his ways” is inextricably linked to knowledge of Scripture.

2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

The man who fears the Lord will enjoy prosperity. This doesn’t mean that he’ll be rich, but he and his family will be taken care of. Psalm 37:25 says “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” A man provides for his own by his hard work and his fear of the Lord.

3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.

The man’s blessing is a blessed wife! She is prosperous and brings forth the fruit of her labor as well. She makes the home a place of refreshment and bounty. If a man has a wife who is not flourishing, who is stifled in her heart and in her labors, it may be that that man has failed to fear the Lord and walk in His ways.

The man’s blessing is also blessed children. Again, the picture is one of fruitful existence. When I think of the man who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways, I recall seeing my dad early every morning sitting in his chair with a bible in his lap and his eyes closed in prayer. I knew that somewhere in those moments, he was praying for me. I am a very thankful representation of this verse – my childhood was a fruitful one due in no small part to the godly leadership of my father that gave me security and peace.

Let’s be clear. The book of Proverbs and many of the Psalms should not be viewed as promises, but as principles. I believe this psalm is one of those. There are going to be people who fear the Lord and humbly walk in His ways who have children who live completely fruitless lives and who never repent and believe. We all know people like that. But this psalm is a principle, that is, these are the blessings that can generally be expected of those who fear the Lord.

That said, a blessed home is a home led by a man who fears the Lord and walks in His ways.

5 The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! 6 May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel!

While we are not Jews and we do not live in Israel, any man who fears the Lord will be a godly influence to the community around him. I think the implication of these verses is that his influence is one that will be heeded by those around him. Imagine a community filled with this kind of men.

In session two of the men's boot camp, we discussed how crucial it is to the spiritual health of a household that the head of the household is walking closely with the Lord.  This psalm echoes that truth.  Those of you who are husbands and fathers, do you see yourselves in these verses? Are you leading your family by following the Lord? Is that leadership manifested in the form of a regular pursuit of time with the Lord that you might walk in His ways? May the Lord bless our efforts as we seek to cultivate this essential discipline.

Wives, pray for your husbands. Pray that he would pursue fellowship with the Lord and would grow in the love and fear of the Lord.

May Providence Bible Fellowship be full of families who enjoy the bliss and blessings of Godly male leadership.

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