Psalms 128:1-4 A Song of degrees. Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. (2) For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. (3) Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. (4) Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.
Like the 1st Psalm, the 128th describes the blessed man. This man fears the Lord and walks in his ways and is therefore blessed by God. One particular blessing listed is found in his family: “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.”
Here is a man who is a farmer or the keeper of a vineyard (vs. 2). He labors with his hands in the fields, tending various vines, trees and crops and partakes of the fruit of his labor. He is a husbandman. Yet there is a special vine at home, clinging to the sides of his house. And around his table, carefully potted and nurtured, are little olive plants. He does not neglect the fields because he is taking care of one vine and a few potted plants – but he also does not neglect the harvest at home because he spends all of his time and energy in the fields.
Allow me to limit the application to preachers and their families. The pastor is a shepherd of two flocks – his family and his church. In the same way, the preacher is a husbandman with two crops to cultivate – the fields of this world, and his little garden at home.
The preacher who fears the Lord and walks in His commandments will strike a balance between the white and wasting fields of his community and the needs of the special vine and little olive plants at the house. God has not called us to one or the other. He has called us to both. Someone has well said that “God-given responsibilities do not conflict.” If you are a husband, you have God-given responsibilities to your wife. If you are a father, you have God-given responsibilities to your children. If you are a preacher, you have God-given responsibilities to your church or ministry. None of these responsibilities will conflict. You can be pastor, husband and father. In fact, God expects you to (see 1 Tim. 3:4-5).
The preacher’s wife is a vine by the side of his house. But if she is not cared for and nurtured, she will not be the “fruitful vine” promised in Psalm 128:3. Too many preacher’s wives live in solitary confinement. They are depressed, despondent, unhappy. Why? Because they married a man who, by his own choice, is rarely home. When he is home, he is so distracted by the church that she feels “second fiddle” to his work. While a man IS created for work, he has a God-given responsibility to love and nurture his wife (Eph. 5). She doesn’t just exist to show up at church, run a nursery, clean your clothes, and share a bed with from time to time. She has the right to expect her husband to be her husband. She has the right to cling to him just as the vine clings to the side of the house. The blessed man who fears God and walks in His commandments will have a wife who is more like a fruitful vine than one that has withered away from neglect.
The preacher’s children are like potted olive plants. The man in Psalm 128 keeps them by his table, inside the house, away from withering heat or invading insects. It is the father’s job to protect his children from outside influences. The preacher needs to be a wall of separation from the world for his children. They should be round about his table. This speaks of family communion – family time together, such as around the dinner table at supper time. In his home, these potted plants will be carefully watched, nurtured, watered, trimmed, protected, and brought up, so that one day they can be fruitful.
For many preachers, the neglected part of the harvest is that which would produce the most fruit if better cared for. We often neglect our children because we are trying to reclaim those who have already wasted much of their lives. I am for reclaiming them – but your children are the best chance you have to make a lasting impact on this world for the cause of Christ. I have four children that I can raise up from birth to serve God. If nurtured and trained, they can grow to adulthood without ever tasting alcohol, smoking a cigarette, seeing a dirty magazine or movie, engaging in illicit behavior, or filling their life with unnecessary baggage. They can grow up, marry and raise my grandchildren to serve God. How foolish it is to neglect your garden at home!
Don’t make the mistake of bringing in a harvest from the field while neglecting the harvest at home. Take care of your family. Take care of your wife and children. Don’t let your kids go to the devil while your spending all your time trying to get the deacon’s kids back from the devil. On the other hand, don’t get so busy spending time at home that you neglect the Great Commission. The harvest still needs laborers.
Thank you for reading. God bless.