I believe that every father wants to sit down in his old age and look back on his life with satisfaction. Satisfaction that he has accomplished something truly valuable. Why is it, that so many men go through a mid-life crisis when they pass the milestone of turning 40? Could it be, that at the “half-way point” in life, they look back and are disappointed with what they really have accomplished? Is it, that their youth has passed them by? It is hard to get past comparisons with other “successful” men. Or perhaps, it has been a life spent on vain pleasures that have no lasting value. Proverbs 1:7 points us toward the answer. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (KJV)
May my life produce something of lasting value!
Ask yourself this question, “Do I fear the LORD?” It is a fundamental question, and one that is worth meditating on. Psalm 128 teaches about many important blessings that God gives to those who fear the LORD.
1 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.
5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion:
and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.
Psalm 128 (KJV)
Proverbs 1:7 relates directly to verse one of Psalm 128. With God’s wisdom and instruction, come knowledge. With the fear of the LORD, you not only receive knowledge from God, but blessings, too. Verse two of Psalm 128 gives a promise that we will be happy, well, and satisfied with the labor of our hands. When we compare ourselves with others, we may never be content. If we follow God these ways, we will be rewarded with peace and contentment. This verse is all about contentment, instead of wondering what might have been. As good as this is, it gets better!
Verse three compares your wife to a fruitful vine. I have heard it said that you can tell much about a man’s relationship with God by the countenance of his wife. I think that there is some truth to that. A godly wife is a blessing that the LORD showers upon a man who fears Him and walks in His ways.
Let’s look at what it takes to have a fruitful vine. You need to remove the large stones from the soil. A permanent fence must be erected for protection. You must also build a permanent tower to keep watch and guard over the vineyard. The vineyard must be allowed to establish itself with healthy plants. You don’t eat the fruit for the first three years and the fourth year is set apart for the Lord. It takes until the fifth year for you to eat any fruit. Preparing a vineyard is difficult work that comes at a cost. A vineyard is a large investment, that when done well, is a great prize. A properly prepared vineyard will give a return on your investment many times over.
How does preparing a vineyard compare to nurturing our wives? Think back to when you were first married. Did you study God’s word together in order to “remove the large stones” in your life? (For that matter, you should have removed the large stones before you were married.) What did you do to protect your wife and keep watch over her spiritual, emotional, and physical safety? (Did you do any of this work before you were married?) These are the first steps in preparing your vineyard!
Now, you must tend your vineyard to ensure that your vine will be fruitful. For our wives, we must water them in God’s word. Prayer can be likened to fertilizing and cultivating the ground. We must be faithful to protect and nurture them as they grow to maturity in Christ, because vines need good support to grow and flourish. Any weeds that come up must be plucked out when they are small. We must be patient while our beautiful vine grows strong and able to produce abundantly. Have we done this for our wives?
What do you do, if you have neglected these essential things? Thanks be to God, because it is never too late to start! You will have a more difficult task ahead of you because of earlier mistakes. There is also an important lesson here in preparing sons for marriage. Do everything you can so that their vineyard is ready for planting!
God bless, Mike
(Next time, I will finish Psalm 128.)