“Faith of our Fathers”
A Study in Psalm 128
If you’re a father, yours is an awesome, fearful assignment in our day, because you must lead your family through what I would call a minefield.
As you look around, the landscape is littered with the wrecks of families: the wounded, the maimed, the destroyed. Families blown to bits by financial pressure, devastated and shattered by immorality, destroyed by drugs and alcohol. Our children live in an age where baby killing is called “freedom of choice,” sodomy is “sexual preference,” adultery “an affair.” You have to lead your children through this minefield. Dads, I know you want to put your children under your arms and get them safely through.
America will not be changed until her homes are changed. Homes will not be changed until dads are changed. The problem, very frankly, is failing fathers and drop-out dads.
Psalm 128 was written to dads.
It’s a father’s psalm.
It tells of the faith of our fathers.
“Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in His ways. For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.”
One songwriter has interpreted it this way:
“O blessed are you who fear the Lord
And walk in His ways!
By the labor of your hands you shall eat,
You will be happy and proper;
Your wife like a fruitful vine
In the heart of your house;
Your children like shoots of the olive
Around your table.
Indeed, thus shall be blessed,
The man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
All the days of your life.
May you see your children’s children
In a happy Jerusalem!
And on Israel, peace.
What could be better than that? Don’t we all long for that! But a home like this doesn’t come naturally—it doesn’t just “sprout up,” unattended.
Let’s “dig deeper” into this psalm and learn about the godly dad, the faithful father.
The Character He Lives
What about the character he lives out in his daily life?
1. Look in verses 1-2 and fill in some key words.
“Blessed is every one that ___________ the LORD; that ____________ in His ways.
Here’s a God-fearing father. That’s a good start: he has a fear of God.
|A CLOSER LOOK: “FEAR” GOD?
Do you have a clear understanding of what the Bible means when it says
“Fear the Lord”? You see that phrase often.
The picture is coming clear. The fearing and the walking go together.
2. Someone once said, “Help me, Lord, not to fear what I'll miss if I do Your will; help me to fear what I'll miss if I don't.”
Think of a time in your life when you feared doing God’s will. What did you fear He would ask you to do?________________________________________________________
What did you fear you would miss?_____________________________________________
In this specific instance, did you obey the Lord?_________________________________
What were the results?_______________________________________________________
When an authority figure in your life has told you to do something, you should rightly fear if you have not done it. God is our ultimate Authority. He is King of Kings. When we properly “fear” Him—view Him in His majesty with awe and respect—we’re going to obey Him! Fearing and walking go hand-in-hand. A person who fears God the most loves God the best.
A wife needs to see in her husband a fear of God. Children need to see, more than anything else in their dad, a fear (reverential awe and respect) of God.
3. (verse 2) “For thou shalt eat the __________ of thine hands: ____________ shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.”
A godly dad is hard-working. Your children need to see a dad who is industrious, a consistent and faithful worker, providing for his home. You, sir, are the Protector/Provider God placed in the home.
A Personal Story from Dr. Rogers:
Every little boy wants to be like his dad. I was a youngster; I was not saved, but I was sitting in a revival crusade because somebody invited our family. My dad was sitting next to me, right on the aisle. When the invitation was given, my dad stepped out and gave his heart to Jesus Christ. I was overwhelmed. Do you know who the next guy down the aisle was? A boy named Adrian Rogers, following his dad down that aisle to give his heart to Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord. Sir, if you have a son, he wants to be like you.
When our first son, Stephen, was born, the nurse came out and said, “Mr. Rogers, you’re a daddy. You’ve got a son.” I cannot tell you the joy in my heart. God let me see that little boy and Joyce as they were on their way back to the room. I went back to the little trailer we lived in at the time and got on my knees. I said, “Oh God, if I never preach a good sermon, if I never am a good pastor, if I never have any worldly possessions, if nobody ever hears my name, Oh God, I want to be a good dad. I want to be a good dad.” I have a greater ambition and desire to be a good daddy than I have to be a good pastor. I want to be a God-fearing dad that my children can look up to.
Your kids need you to fear God. They’re facing humanism that tells them man is the center of everything. Materialism tells them happiness belongs in things. Hedonism tells them to live high, wide and handsome. Relativism tells them there are no absolutes, no fixed standards of right and wrong. They need a God-fearing dad.
The Companion He Loves
“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house…” (v. 3)
A good wife is like a fruitful vine.
1. Like a vine, she faithfully clings to him.
2. Like a vine, she’s fruitful in all good works.
3. But she’s fragile. A vine needs the support that the house gives. This fruitful vine is leaning and depending upon you, dad.
Psalm 128 is not all that complicated. So far—
Verse 1—Fear God
Verse 2—Work industriously
Verse 3—Love your wife.
The best thing you can do for your kids is to fear God and to love their mother. You may be saying, “Well, I don’t know. My love is growing cold.” Friend, fire it up. You can choose to love your wife. It is not love that holds your marriage together; it’s marriage that holds your love together. You make a commitment: you say, “I will, by the grace of God.” God has commanded you to conduct yourself in a loving way toward your wife. If you do that long enough, your feelings will follow.
The Children He Leads
4. Still in verse 3: “…thy children like ____________ _____________ round about thy _____________.”
Notice he didn’t say here “olive TREES.” He said “olive ______________.”
An olive plant needs to be cultivated and cared for until it becomes an olive TREE. In the Middle East, the olive tree, green and beautiful, is productive and valuable. And it is very, very stable. You can go today to the Garden of Gethsemane. They have olive trees there that some believe are 2,000 years old and may have been present when Jesus Christ prayed in the Garden. Those are mature olive trees. But God’s Word says that the children you lead are going to be like olive plants around your table. Like any fragile plant, they need to be cared for and nurtured.
But in America today we have phantom fathers, failing fathers, drop-out dads. The average American father in spends 7 ½ minutes a week with his teenage son or daughter, talking one-on-one.
Some of you spend very little time with your children. Friend, you’ve got to cultivate these olive plants.
5. In the margin of Psalm 128:3 in your Bible, write “Ephesians 6:4.”
Now turn to it.
4And, ye fathers, _______________ not your children to ______________: but bring them up in the __________________ and ____________________ of the Lord.
This verse has both a positive and a negative:
Negative: Don’t provoke them to wrath. What does that mean? In the “Rogers Plain English” translation: “Don’t drive them nuts!”
|A CLOSER LOOK: “PROVOKE”
We use the word “provoke” all the time. When the Bible tells us to not “provoke” our children, what is it saying?
Many dads do this to their kids.
3 Ways to “Provoke” Your Child:
a. Under-discipline: Giving in to every demand.
b. Inconsistency in discipline: Making empty threats you don’t carry out.
c. Over-discipline: A father who is a bully, a leader but not tender. This family will have problems. When your discipline is the macho-dad kind of “overkill,” a child knows in his heart it’s wrong and that you’re getting away with it just because you’re bigger and stronger than he is.
6. As a general rule, when you discipline your children, are you in control, with a spirit that is broken-hearted? Or angry and just getting even? Be honest. __________ _________________________________________________________________________
There must be balance. Here’s a formula to remember:
All rules + no relationship = rebellion
All relationship + no rules = chaos.
Positive: “Bring them up in the fear and admonition [nurture] of the Lord.”
|A CLOSER LOOK: "NURTURE"
Think of your child as a tender olive plant. Your local Garden Nursery and your home “nursery” have a lot in common. “Nurture” and “nursery” come from the same root!(if you’ll pardon the pun).
What is involved in nurture/cultivation? Any gardener will tell you:
There’s no way to do it without spelling love T-I-M-E.
Studies have shown that if a father does not spend quality time with his daughter, he greatly increases her likelihood of being one of two things: frigid or promiscuous. If the father does not give her the love she deeply desires, she’s going to find it from someone else.
You say, “I just don’t have time.” Make the time. I have found we make time for what’s truly important to us. Dads, they’re like olive plants. They’ve got to be cultivated and cared for.
The Contribution He Leaves
7. 5The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the __________ of __________________ all the days of thy life. 6Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and ____________ upon Israel.
Dad, the payoff for all your hard work is coming. A generation with God-fearing, hard-working fathers, men who love their wives, men who lead their children, will produce a strong nation. You’ll see “the good of Jerusalem.”
America will not be changed until her families are changed. Her families will not be changed until the fathers are changed. Part of the legacy a godly man leaves is a healthy nation.
Your Personal Legacy
Notice the last verse of this psalm!
6 “Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.”
This is not just peace in the nation, but your personal peace and your personal legacy.
The children’s children are living in peace because of the legacy of a godly grandfather. “Thou shalt see thy children’s children…”
Turn to Psalm 112:1-3, one of my favorite passages of Scripture. If you are a father, this might become one of yours as well.
1Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that ____________ the LORD, that delighteth greatly in His ______________________.
2His ________ shall be mighty upon earth: the ____________________ of the upright shall be blessed.
3Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness
__________________ for [how long?] ________.
That’s leaving a godly legacy.
8. How is verse 1 of this Psalm almost identical to Psalm 128 verse 1? (two ways)
9. How is Psalm 112:3 similar to Psalm 128:2?_________________________________
10. To the man who walks in God’s way, what promise is given in both Psalm 128:2 and Psalm 112:3? __________________________________________________________
11. Psalm 112:2 says, “His seed [children] shall be mighty on the earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.” How is this verse a fulfillment of “…your children like olive plants around your table” (128:3) ? __________________________
There is nothing you can do about the home you came from. You can’t do anything about your ancestors. But you CAN do something about your descendants!
Covenant with God and yourself today to become the man of Psalm 128 and 112.
The need of the hour is fathers who will be God-fearing, hard-working, who will love their wives and lead their children.
Pray this prayer of commitment:
“By the grace of God and in your power, I’m going to be a godly father, and I’m going to see my children’s children, loving God, serving God, praising God.”
One day they will think of you when they sing, “Faith of our Fathers, living still.”All active news articles