Theme: From Families to Cities
In these lessons, we learn to look to God for life’s purpose.
Scripture: Psalm 127:1-5
A number of truths can be recognized from these verses, including the point we looked at in yesterday’s study, that the growth of a family is God’s work.
2. God’s blessing on the city begins with his blessing on the family. The family is the basic unit of society. If the family prospers, the city and the nation will prosper, too. But if families are neglected and decline, the entire society will decline with them. That is what we are seeing in the United States of America at the present time. Families are disintegrating, children are neglected, and the frequency and magnitude of violent crimes are soaring. This theme is so important to the psalmist that he carries it over into the next psalm and with the same relationships. Psalm 127 began with the city and moved to a consideration of the family. Psalm 128 begins with the family but moves to the city, concluding, “May the LORD bless you from Zion…and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem” (v. 5).
Psalm 127 speaks of the number of children, of course, and of sons especially, saying that a large number of male children are a blessing since they will be able to stand by their father and defend him when “they contend with their enemies in the gate” (v. 5). “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (v. 5). We may evaluate that a bit differently today, when large numbers of children are not necessarily an asset to a family. On a farm perhaps they are, where the men can work the fields. But not necessarily in an urban environment. And not when the cost of a college education for just one of them is approaching $100,000 and is supposed to be $200,000 by the time today’s toddlers reach their teens. Nor are sons a greater blessing than daughters in today’s world.
But those are details. And details aside, the point of this important psalm stands. Children are a blessing from God, and they with their parents are among the vital foundation blocks of a healthy thriving society. God’s blessing on the city begins with his blessing on the family, and where our families stand, our cities will stand too.
3. The growth of families is slow and unpretentious. Friends may take notice and celebrate the birth of a baby, a new addition to a family. They may help to celebrate a child’s birthday or observe a special event like a high school graduation. But mostly the growth of a family goes unnoticed by other people, sometimes even by the father and mother, because it is slow and unspectacular. It is a blessing that builds over time. But that is the way God usually works, isn’t it? God works slowly but surely, like the German proverb says: langsam aber sicher. Yet this slow and unspectacular blessing is a true blessing and a biblical pattern.
Do we need an example? There is an excellent example in God’s gift of children to Abraham, the father of the Old Testament covenant people. God told Abraham that he would have descendants “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore” (Gen. 22:17), and that he would be the “father of many nations” (Gen. 17:5). But it was many years before Abraham and Sarah had Isaac, the son of God’s promise. In fact, it was when they were both past the age of having children. Abraham was one hundred years old, and Sarah was ninety. It required a miracle. Even after that, the growth of the family was slow. Isaac had only two children, Esau and Jacob. In Jacob’s generation, the third, there were twelve sons, the patriarchs of the Jewish tribes. But even then, it was not until after four hundred years of terrible slavery in Egypt and under the most oppressive circumstances that the nation grew to the million or more persons that eventually came out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses.
The same is true of the people of the new covenant. Jesus called twelve disciples. They carried the gospel to others. But it was only after several generations and as a result of much difficult and unpretentious effort that the church took firm root and spread throughout the Roman world.
What is the relationship between families and society?
How does family growth reflect God’s movement?
What are some biblical examples of families that Dr. Boice gives?
Application: In what ways has the breakdown of the family occurred? How has this breakdown affected society?
Key Point: God’s blessing on the city begins with his blessing on the family, and where our families stand, our cities will stand too.