This is the sermon I preached today at our Church for Father’s Day. Attached is an audio link to it. Enjoy, and happy Father’s Day!
Sermon – The Happy Father – Psalm 128
Greeting Good morning, and Happy Father’s day! I stand here today as a happy father of four living children. Each one is a blessing and a joy to me. Yet my happiness does not even begin to compare to the happiness God has over his children who are in Christ. I hope that God grants me the grace to explain this truth later on this morning.
Let’s read the text of Psalm 128, then I’ll pray “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, and may you live to see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.” Psalm 128:1–6 Pray
Sermon My plan this morning is fairly simple. I have no three point outline this morning with subject headings that begin with the letter “R”. We are simply going to walk through the text of Psalm 128, explain and apply the meaning.
128:1 Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. The title of this message is THE HAPPY FATHER. There are a couple of reasons why I chose this title. One, it’s Father’s Day. Two, this text is in general for everyone (verse 1). But it is specifically for husbands and fathers, (verse 3) your wife, and your children. Third, because God is a happy God, though in a different sense. And Fourthly, because blessed essentially means happy.
The hebrew word “blessed” means happy ones. It refers to a person’s state of bliss. The word is not a verb, and does not describe the actions of an individual that’s happy, rather it’s a noun that describes a person’s state of being. This happiness is often connected to wisdom, as in Proverbs 3:13 “Blessed (or happy) is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” This word is never, interestingly enough used of God. God is never described as being in a state of happy bliss.
Now we are not talking this morning about the health and wealth prosperity gospel kind of happiness (God wants you healthy, wealthy, and happy). And maybe we all fear that kind of false teaching to the point where we slip into the other ditch (the frozen chosen) and are afraid to even suggest that God does indeed intend for us to be happy. After all, when an angel from heaven announced the birth of Jesus Christ, he declared, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”
This blissful state of happiness is first and foremost a gift from God, and it is reserved for those who fear the Lord, and who walk in his ways. We’ll look at those two things.
Fear of the Lord. John Frame says that “the fear of God is that basic attitude of reverence and awe that inevitably carries with it a desire to do God’s will.”
First of all, the fear of The Lord is a gift from God. God himself places this attitude of heart in certain individuals. He states in Jeremiah 32:39–40 that in the new covenant (the covenant we are in) he will “give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” I will explain what the fear of The Lord is, but for starters; if you have no fear of God in your heart, (no attitude of reference and awe that desires to do God’s will) then God has not been pleased to put it there. He has not given you that undeserved, unearned grace. If you do, then God has placed it there, and you should rejoice and be exceedingly glad.
I am just going to list a couple of subject headings and verse references to help us in our understanding of the fear of The Lord.
The fear of The Lord is very important. It is…
- The fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) I have written in my paper bible that my beginning of wisdom was in 2003 when I became a Christian. Before that, I had no fear of God at all, and therefore no true wisdom. The kickoff begins with salvation in order to have true godly wisdom.
- The fear of The Lord is the hatred of evil (Proverbs 8:13). It’s easy, I think, for us to be outraged over the daily news. We see, and hear about the evil in the world and we could say that we hate it. Yet do you hate the evil that lies in your own bosom? Hebrews 3:12 says, “Take care brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” Do you find it hard to believe God’s word at times? Do you find that you do not trust what is written? Do you even know what is written? Falling away from God is evil. Disbelieving something God has stated in his word is evil. Evil has many heads and the news is filled with them. But evil also lies in our minds and hearts. Do you have a hatred of evil? This is the fear of The Lord.
- The fear of The Lord is more of a treasure to the saints then earthly treasure is (Proverbs 15:16).
- The fear of The Lord is a refreshing fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27).
- The fear of The Lord is sanctifying, cleansing the soul (Psalm 19:9).
- The fear of The Lord is reverential (Hebrews 12:28).
The fear of The Lord is necessary to…
- Truly worship God (Psalm 5:7)
- It’s necessary to Be in the service of God (Hebrews 12:28)
- It’s necessary to Avoid sin (Exodus 20:20)
- It’s necessary To have a righteous government (2 Samuel 23:3)
- It’s necessary To impartially administer justice (2 Chronicles 19:6–9)
- It’s necessary To perfect holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Those who have the fear of God
- Please God (Psalm 147:11), those who don’t, don’t please God.
- Are pitied by God (Psalm 103:13)
- Are acceptable to God (Acts 10:35), those who don’t, are not acceptable to God
- Receive mercy from God (Luke 1:50), those who don’t, don’t receive mercy
- Are blessed (Psalm 112:1), those who don’t are cursed
- Depart from evil (Proverbs 16:6), those who don’t, run to evil.
- Don’t fear man (Matthew 10:28), those who don’t, can’t help but fear man.
Our text in Psalm 128:1 tells us that those who fear The Lord are blessed. So I ask you, do you fear God? Are you a God fearing man or woman? If not, do you want to be? Psalm 86:11 says “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your Name.” The way to become a person who fears The Lord, is to pray. To fall on your face before our holy God and ask him to unite your heart to fear his name. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him. It begins with the gospel.
Continuing on, Blessed is everyone who fears The Lord, who walks in his ways. Walking in God’s ways is simply obedience. Obedience does not get us to heaven. but those who are going are obedient to God’s word. Walking in the way of The Lord is walking in the ways of The Lord. Walking according to his ways, his ideas, his truth, his plan, his purpose, for his glory. It is walking by faith and not by sight. As oppose to walking according to your ways, your ideas, your truth, your plan, your purpose, and for your glory. True happiness is walking according to God’s ways and not our own.
128:2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. We are going to be moving now past the general blessings of happiness for all people, to the specific blessings that fall upon the husband and father. After all this is Father’s Day, and our text has much more to say.
Specifically, what does the Christian home look like? Or what does the blessing of God look like in a christian home? The christian home looks like a man who labors with his hands. Work is a blessing from God. Charles Spurgeon said:
The happiest state on earth is one in which we have something to do, strength to do it with, and a fair return for what we have done.
Whether a man labors with his hands or labors with his mind, it is no difference. We live in a time where much labor that is done is knowledge work and not physical work. We deal with emails, spreadsheets, power points, financial data, stocks, investments, programs, and a million other labor’s that do not involve much physical activity whatsoever. This is knowledge work. The putting together of this sermon is knowledge work; whereas the presenting of it is laborous work. And it is a blessing and a means from God to produce fruit or food on your dinner table.
Notice also that the man’s work is meant to make the home a happy place. A man is to labor and work all the days of his life. This does not mean that a man is never to retire. Nor that he must always bring in income by his labor. Merely that a man is never to reach a stage in his life where he become lazy and no longer labors either in mind or body. A man’s work in not meant to wear out himself nor his family. This work is a gift and a blessing from God, and the fruit it provides for the home, and is to result in a happy home.
Men, if you have fallen into a ditch on either side of this truth, you must repent and seek to crawl back up on the road. If you have become lazy and slothful in your labor, your home is not a blessed and happy home. The Lord’s favor has departed from your home. Likewise if you work long hours, if you are seldom home to shepherd and pastor your family, if you always bring the stresses home around your dinner table; the Lord’s favor has departed from your home. Your work is a gift from God. Do not treat it with contempt and depart from it, nor give yourself over to idolize it. “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your Name.”
128:3 Another blessing on the Christian home is a fruitful wife. This is, first and foremost speaking of the fruit of children. Children are a blessing from The Lord. Each and every one of them. We live in a culture where children are seen more as a burden than a blessing. The last I heard, the United States fertility rate among women ages 15–44 was 1.9. This is near a record low. Christians boast about voting for candidates that are pro life, yet is the average household in America actually for having more children? God’s blessing upon the Christian home is a fruitful wife.
I also want to say that in the pages of Scripture we find numerous homes where the wife was said to be barren. Numerous times we see the hand of God opening up the womb out of mercy and love. Yet I know that there are many families (maybe even some here) where the fruit of children has been withheld for one reason or another. I am not suggesting that those families that cannot have children do not fear The Lord, nor walk in his ways. Yet I am saying that here the Scripture is stating that in general, the blessing upon the man of God is to have a fruitful wife who bears children.
This truth does not only speak of children though. It is also true that the fruitful wife will produce the Christian virtues of wisdom, righteousness, and good management. The wife is likened here to a vine. A vine is said to be a tender plant that needs much care and nourishment. The vine is both decorative and profitable. The text says that the blessing upon the man of God will be to have a wife that is producing the fruit of christian virtues. One that does not just take up space like a dead and withering vine. Nor one who produces sour and bad grapes. But a wife that is clothed in beauty and profit.
She is said to be in verse 3 Within your house. We see also that this man’s house will not only have a wife which produces nourishing and profitable fruit, but that she will be within your house. The Hebrew phrase literally means on the inner thigh. In other words, wherever the thigh of the woman is, there the woman is also. You can not separate a woman from her legs, nor can you separate the fruitful vine from her house. The idea is that she will be a woman who desires to be in the home; her heart is there. I know that there are a million different circumstances that play a part in the family life. But regardless, the heart of this woman will be in the home. If you come down the driveway of this home, you will see the beauty of this decorative vine around the outside of the house. It will be obvious that a woman who fears The Lord dwells inside. She cares for her home. The home is her husbands, and she will seek to benefit her surroundings to please her man who fears The Lord.
When you enter this home you will look this way and that, and find this woman in one room or another. She goes about the home in good management and profitability. Her roots are planted in the basement. She cannot be easily pulled up and moved from this place and that. She is like the growing vine that has crept her way into every square inch of the home. This is the blessing of the man who fears The Lord and walks in his ways.
Gentlemen; is your home like this? If you answer no, then don’t lay the blame upon your wife as if she could water, prune, and give sunlight to herself. She is your vine. She is your blessing from God. She is in your care. And she will be the blessing from God for every man who fears The Lord and walks in his ways. You say, “you don’t know my wife!” Right, but I do know the Word of God and see here what it says.
Not only will your wife be like a fruitful vine within your home, but your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Not only will the man of God have a fruitful vine as a wife, but will have fruitful and growing children around his table. The phrase “olive shoots” is speaking of olive plants and not olive branches. This is an important point because it pictures our children, not as immediate extensions off our vine, but as new plants which will soon be uprooted and placed in another soil. The picture is not so much that the dinner table will be surrounded with children, but that around the base of the parent olive vine will be young olive plants around and near. Our families are the gardens of The Lord!
In case you didn’t understand what we have been saying is truly the blessings of The Lord, he states it in verse 4, Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears The Lord.
Verse 5 is the author of the psalm pronouncing a blessing (like a benediction) upon us from God who sits enthroned in heaven. The lord bless you from Zion (heaven)! Zion was the picture of the center of blessing for the people of God in the Old Testament. It is akin to the phrase “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.”
Verse 5 continues, May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life This is the blessing upon the nation who has homes filled with men who fear The Lord and walk according to his ways. Tell me, do you think that our nation has homes filled with God fearing men? Are we seeing the prosperity of our nation with the fruits of wisdom, righteousness, and good management? We desperately need a move of the Spirit of God upon the hearts of the men in this nation. A move which drives men in repentance to their knees so that they might rise in power. Will it start today? Will it start with you?
Verse 6 May you see your children’s children. Long life and grandchildren are gifts from above. They are blessings to the man of God who fears The Lord and walks in his ways.
In conclusion, this is our text. These are the blessings from God upon the families that have men who fear the Lord, and who walk according to his ways.
God is happy–
Matthew 3:16–17 "And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “ This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
God is The Lord who is “well pleased.” The bible does not say that God is in a “state of bliss,” like our happiness: but that he has “pleasure in the goodness” of his Son. God is full of pleasure by the goodness of His Son Jesus. In closing, please turn in your bibles to Ephesians 2
Ephesians 2:1–10 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
God the father is a God who the ultimate HAPPY FATHER. He is filled to the brim with pleasure over the goodness and obedience of his son Jesus Christ! Men, are we good and obedient like Jesus? No – and this is why God himself sent his son into this world. To live the life of goodness and obedience that we fail to do. Then God sent him to the cross where he bore the wrath and despised the shame that God has over yours and my non-goodness and disobedience.
I am a father and a husband that so often fails. I look to the fruitlessness of my home at times and see my own neglect and sin reflected in the faces of those whom I love the most. I see a vine that needs pruning, weeds that need pulling, and smooched olive plants all over the floor. Yet I look to the heavens and see my Savior high and lifted up. I read from Ephesians that God is “rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.”
Is God happy with you and me? That depends upon your answer to this question – are you in Christ Jesus? If you are in Christ, he is as happy with you as he is with his son. He is filled to the brim with pleasure over your faith and trust upon Christ alone. If you are not in Christ Jesus, then you must be crucified in the eternal Golgotha for every time you did not fear The Lord, every time you did not walk according to his ways, every time you did not labor as unto The Lord, every time you did not prune, water, and let the rays of sunlight wash over the wife of your youth, every time you neglected your little olive plants that run like wild thorn bushes throughout the land. Every deviance from the law of God is a moral crime against the God who made you.
Is God happy with you? If he is not, he can be this morning. Run to Jesus O man. Run to Jesus and embrace the free gift of eternal life. Jesus is our propitiation. He is the one who absorbs the wrath of God. And then, because of him, God can flow to you his rich and full blessing. You will hear at the end of your life not, “depart from me, for I never knew you.” But rather, “well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the Joy of your Father in heaven.”
Let this day be the happiest Father’s Day you have ever had. Let your heart overflow in joy of your Heavenly Father; THE HAPPY FATHER.