A Fruitful Vine and Olive Shoots

Hopes and dreams for the future…such are the thoughts of this newly married man.  What will become of my marriage?  How will my wife’s personality develop in our marriage?  How will our future children turn out?  These questions do not have immediate answers, nor are they meant to be answered so early on in the journey.  My initial sense is that I can use these questions to stir up what I value, shake things up, in order my to test my values and priorities.

Some are probably thinking what the title of this post has to do with what has been written up to this point.  Thankfully, I am not the only person who has recognized the relationship between the husband’s values or way of life and its impact upon his wife and children.  Scores of books have been written either for or against that notion.  In my case, the children are still future, but not my wife.  She is alive and well in the present.  My life impacts her already regardless of her choices and vice versa.

Listen to the following words from the Psalmist: “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!  You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.  Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.  Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord” (Psalm 128:1-4, ESV). 

Now the other shoes falls as my readers and followers discover that my title is woefully unoriginal.  Those who are exceptionally discerning most likely knew that I lifted the title of today’s post from the above quoted Psalm.  One of the main points that I want emphasize is how the wife as a fruitful vine and the children as olive shoots are a consequence of the man’s lifestyle.  For example, Psalm 128:1 pronounces a blessing upon all men and women who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.  This is another way of saying that blessed are those who worship God and obey him.

After the Psalmist declares this universal blessing upon all who worship God and obey him, he illustrates how this promise bears fruit within the highly specific example of the family unit.   The man who worships God for who he is and obeys him will experience blessing in three areas: in his work, in his marriage to his wife, and in his children’s lives (Psalm 128:2-3, ESV).  These are marvelous promises of God in his word to husbands and fathers everywhere who acknowledge him for who he is and obey him.

There is a subtext of Psalm 128 that must be mentioned at this point.  It is crucial to understand that the Spirit of God through the Psalmist blesses all those who fear God and obey him.  Fearing God is more than intellectual assent in believing that God is God.  It is knowledge of God that may have started in the head, but now that knowledge comes out of the heart in worship and reverence.  This is total worship, which means that the head and the heart are working together as one.  It seems to me that this is the man in view within Psalm 128 and all men and women who exhibit the same.

Back to the passage, worshiping and obeying God work in tandem to bringing about blessings in the lives of those who do them.  Husbands and fathers are promised success in what their hands have produced (Psalm 128:2, ESV).  This means that they will be able to provide for their family.  These same men will see an abundance of life in their marriage and in their wives.  After all, this seems to be the point behind the image of the fruitful vine (Psalm 128:3a, ESV).  Lastly, these men will not have children just to have children.  These worshipful and obedient fathers will have children who are olive shoots, which means that they have the abundant life in them like their father (Psalm 128:3b, ESV).

Where do I stand in the light of Psalm 128?  For starters, I have taken my first steps toward building a family by marrying my beautiful and sexy wife.  She is a Godly woman, who refuses to settle for anything less than God’s best.  This works out great for me because I am of the same mindset.  That being said, it is still important for me to work through passages like Psalm 128.  It seems to me that the Good Shepherd desires that I apply these truths contained within this passage at this stage of my journey.  The discipline required to apply these truths is no different than the discipline required to know them.  Ignorance of God’s truth is not a viable defense.

I will end with Psalm 128:4, which states: “Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.”  This is a clear and simple declaration that the worshipful and obedient man will be blessed.  He can be assured of it.  The only question to face is whether or not I believe God’s word.  Do I take him and his word at face value?  Am I willing to place all into his hands in order to see God work and bless according to his word?

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