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Gardening With Fear (Psalm 128)

“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table.” (Psalm 128:3)

The Holy Spirit through the psalmist paints a picture here of the blessing that comes upon the life and family of one who fears God. Keep in mind that fearing God is not a feeling. At memorable times, we sense the awesome presence of the Lord, and a tangible holy fear impresses its weighty power upon our being. At times we tremble in awe of the manifest presence of God. However, these experiences are not the test of whether we fear the Lord. God’s litmus test is that we walk in His ways (Psalm 128:1). Fear of the Lord increases in secret prayer but is proven in daily life.

God is so certain that a blessing will fall upon the life and family of one who fears Him that He inspired the psalmist to write, “Behold,” meaning “look and see!” (128:4). When we walk in His ways, He brings our family and home life into divine order. Are there difficulties, problems, and hard days? Certainly. Do we still endure trials, even fiery ones? Absolutely. Nonetheless, when the man comes home from his labors to talk and eat with his family, there is joy in it. God fulfills the promise, “You will be happy and it will be well with you” (1:2). If I find enjoyment at work, yet dread coming home to communicate with my wife and children, this should trigger a major spiritual alarm. I must draw back to God and ask, “Am I failing to walk in Your ways?” We may not have Eden-like perfection, but we should indeed find our spirit heartily agreeing with God’s original statement in creation: “It is very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Even on the hardest of days, God can make us say with the Apostle Paul, “I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 7:4). I would venture to guess we do not always respond this way. But usually, there is a command from the Word of God that can be our stepping stone to get there. If we will walk out the call to deny ourselves (Luke 14:24), to humbly honor others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3-11), or to give, “expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:35), we might find our joy returning to us. Or, perhaps, we are returning to our joy, since true joy is found in obedience. If I fear God, I obey Him. If I obey God, I experience joy.

Wives are like vines. If well cared for, they can grow to cover much ground and be fruitful in many ways to their husbands, children, and others. Husbands should provide the right conditions. If we foster prayer, relationship, and Bible study, we help our wives see the sunlight of Christ’s face. By listening, giving time, and being unselfish, we water them, and God brings the growth. A wife should also seek to be a fruitful blessing for her husband and children, in the fear of God.

Children are like olive plants. Plants, especially young ones, need protection from the danger of foxes and other animals. Our children need us to protect them from evil, including movies, shows, books, games, influences, etc., that would pose a threat to them spiritually, even if they want these things. We battle sinful behaviors with loving discipline, because any sin is a fox that seeks to destroy this precious olive plant. These “plants” also need our time; we need to be at the table with them if we hope to nurture and grow them.

If we stay aware of the majesty of God and our accountability to Him, keeping our eyes on Jesus our example, we will become the husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, and children God desires.

Alex Mack

Teaching Pastor

The Rock Church

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