Sons & daughters, hang with me here, are different. If you hand a girl a nerf gun, she’ll wrap it in a blanket and put it to bed. If you hand a doll to a boy, somehow he’ll turn it into a gun. As fathers and mothers, you are called to raise your sons and daughters in the fear and admonition of the Lord. But while the Lord admonishes certain things to all people––male or female––He admonishes certain things for boys who are to become men, and girls who are to become women.
The New Testament does not lift the requirements put upon parents to raise their children in the context of being faithful to God’s covenant promises (Deu. 6:4-9). Parents were told to teach their children diligently to love the Lord wholly; and of vital importance is that the words of the Lord are to be in your heart (Deu. 6:5). There is no substitute for genuine faith, and all your other efforts to raise your children will be futile if not springing from true faith in God. The NT does not exclude children from instructions to walk in the Lord’s ways, they are included: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth (Eph. 6:1-3).”
I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. It is he that giveth salvation unto kings: who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword. Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
Summary of The Text
The first half of this Psalm deals with David at war (vs1-8), and the second half deals with David at peace. But underneath it all is God’s favor, and thus His strengthening blessing. God strengthened David’s hands (v1) to war against “strange children (v7)”; or (בְּנֵי נֵכָֽר) sons of foreign gods. But it is also God who establishes the peace and prosperity of a kingdom.
After blessing God for granting him might and victory in battle, David sings a new song of praise (v9). Salvation is from God (v10), and so he requests continued deliverance from “the hand of strange children” (v11).
This deliverance is requested so that peace might be enjoyed by the nation. This peace is presented in terms of familial prosperity. God’s favor in conflict brought strength for battle against enemies, but God’s favor in peace looks like happy households. We battle to defend the home, so that the home is a place worth defending.
The olive plants around the table (Ps. 128:3) are intended to grow into masculine strength and feminine glory respectively. By God’s favor in deliverance, Israel’s sons might grow up into sequoias, and their daughters might be the family’s hidden ornaments knitting the family together like polished cornerstones (v12). Garners are filled, the table is laden, the flocks are fertile, the oxen are hardy, and there are no “mostly peaceful protests” (vs13-14). This is true happiness, but it is only because God is their Lord (v15).
Sons of Courage
Children are a blessing from the Lord, but not an automatic blessing. After all, “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him (Pro 17:25).” The greatest folly which a son can disappoint his parents with is a lack of courage. Boys are to be raised to die. They need to learn to be ready to die in battle protecting their treasured wives, daughters, and mothers; or else to die in backbreaking provision for the household.
When sons are coddled, or left without the discipline of clear instruction, they turn into self-preserving cowards. They want all their appetites satisfied, and will not be troubled to sacrifice their lives in any way. As a result, a nation full of such men will have no spine to fight the battles necessary to preserve the nation.
Sons need straight lines. Go take that hill. Go conquer that enemy. Go obtain that treasure. Go rescue that damsel.
Sons are to be raised to be men who can rule kingdoms, take dominion, and build wealth. To do this, they must first learn to take dominion of their appetites.
If a son is tending towards fear, it is likely that dad needs to take the time to do some scary things with the son. Hike a perilous trail. Camp without a tent. Ride a bike through a BMX course. Slide on the mattress down the stairs. The point is not just to get your son to be an adrenaline junkie; the point is to get him to face a fearful thing and then praise him for his courage. Along with this, sons need to be taught to fail, and how to get back up from the failure.
Daughters of Chastity
While sons need straight lines, daughters need circles. Circles of safety. Circles of companionship. Circles of security. Circles of industry.
In Titus 2:4-5, we are told how older women are to instruct young women, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Whereas sons are raised up to die, daughters are raised up to give life. She gives life by following the Apostle’s instructions to be “into husband, and into children.” This chastity is to recognize that her privilege is that of bearing life, bringing life, and sustaining life. The home which she keeps is the incubator of life, and she does all this in order that God’s Word be honored.
Daughters are to be raised to be queens of nations, industrious in their creativity, and give nurture and refreshment. To do this, they must first learn to take dominion of their emotions. Daughters are to be like palatial cornerstones, which bind the four walls together; if she is without the discretion to see that she is intended to aid in binding a household together, she is like a jewel in a pig’s snout (Pr. 11:22).
Daughters need to learn that their feelings aren’t in charge of them, they are in charge of their feelings. If a daughter is being a roller-coaster ride of emotions (zany silliness one minute, weepy sobs the next); it is incumbent upon the dad to set aside time to do something, really anything, with her, expressing to her how much he enjoys being with her. She needs a circle of safety from her father; his presence (along with the knowledge that his presence is full of delight in her) is teaching her that he is a surety, and she need not seek far and wide for security.
Fathers, Mothers, Sons, and Daughters
Your father points, your mother encircles. Children need direction and they need nurture. Sons which never grow up into sturdy oaks are the result of some combination of a pampering mother and an ambivalent father. Daughters which don’t become finely crafted palace ornaments are the result of fathers who aren’t affectionate towards them, and mothers riddled with envy and rivalry.
Mothers, you must not raise your sons to be safe. You are a mother, not a smother. You must raise your daughters to be loving wives, and loving mothers, and thus you must model this in your own marriage and parenting.
Fathers, you must not raise your sons to be self-indulgent. You are teaching them to be warrior-poets, not black-holes. Teach them to make, not take. You must raise your daughters to know and understand that they are rare treasures, which you prize highly.
Give clear instructions, not vague suggestions from the other room. When correcting children, you’re not dealing out punishment, you’re giving discipline; and you should not discipline because you were embarrassed. Always accompany that discipline with instruction as to what the sin at the root of their disobedience is, have them seek forgiveness, and the give it readily. And all around it, let your favor and joy and delight in your children be known to them in every manner possible: time, affection, words, and generous gifts.
A Happy People
We talk of our rights for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We will not be a happy people merely by economic prosperity. Better is a crumb in peace than a feast with contention (Pro 17:1). However, a happy home is a blessing indeed, a prosperous home is a blessing indeed, a nation at peace is a blessing indeed. But the closing lines of this Psalm are not either/or; rather, it is intended to draw out how much more happy a people is who enjoy the electing grace of God upon them.
Happy is the people who are in such a case, but that happiness is exponentially heightened when the bedrock underneath, the waves washing overtop, the air all around is God’s favor. This favor is not found anywhere other than in His beloved Son.
God will not look with favor on a people who are not in Christ. So turn to Christ, both you, the wife of your youth, your sons, your daughters, reckon yourselves in Christ, and enjoy the favor of God. God who forgives your sins. God who grants everlasting life. God who also gives sons like oak, daughters like beautifully carved palatial adornments, garners full of the fruit of hard work, and city streets empty of complaining.