- Renée Coventry
Restoring the Family Altar: Essential Worship Ps. 127
So far in this series, we have addressed the individual and corporate aspects of ascending into the presence of God. Both of these are present continually in our homes when we seek to ascend into God's presence with our families. We see in Psalm 127 (and 128, which we will look at tomorrow) the restoration of the family altar. Recently Walter and I had the opportunity to experience what it was like to do so with our boys. We are still amazed at what transpired!
Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like an arrow in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed
when they speak with their enemies in the gate.
Foundational to every home is the presence of God. When we seek to establish households on anything other than God's truth, it is laborious, empty of truth and meaning. God is a multigenerational LORD. From Abraham to Isaac and on to Jacob/Israel, through David to Jesus Christ, and by grafting, we believers have access to the promises of God. Deuteronomy 7:7-9 states,
"The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharoah king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments."
Like any good parent, God's love is not contingent on our works but on the identity we have in Christ Jesus as His children. Remember, we read in the previous Psalm, 126, about God redeeming and restoring. This is not for us alone, but our children and Peter reiterates this in his address on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:39). How tremendous a promise! However, there is a warning contained in this Psalm, too.
The admonishment of Solomon (who knew by experience, based on his many wives and concubines) that it is vanity to try to build a home, city, or career on anything other than the LORD's redemptive work in our lives. The word vanity connotes the emptiness and uselessness of building up what has not been ordained of God or an attempt to guard what God has determined for destruction. When we try to hang on to those issues in our lives or the life of our household that are not pleasing to the LORD, it is vain.
It is also useless to attribute our success to ourselves and our endeavors. While many have translated verse two that God gives His beloved sleep, it also has been read as God providing while His beloved sleeps. Isn't that precious! While we take our rest, God is still moving on our behalf, gifting us with His many blessings. (You should be having a flashback to Psalm 121 about now).
This Scripture also delineates precisely what some of those gifts are – our children! They are fruit harvested from the womb, given to us by God. That is why abortion is so abominable to Him. Jeremiah, the prophet, three times speaks emphatically that it never even entered the mind of God that we should destroy our children (Jer. 7:31, 19:5, and 32:35). God finds it amazing that we could even think, let alone do, what never entered His heart.
Why? Verse four compares our children to arrows in the hands of a warrior. Speaking of Christ's redemption of the whole earth, Isaiah the prophet states that Jesus' mouth is like a "sharp sword, in the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; and He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver" (Is. 49:2). Our children are to us as Christ is to God. We, too, protect our children in our quiver, preparing them to be shot out as weapons against the enemy. What is more destructive to the enemy's plans than a legacy of godliness within a household of faith?
This Psalm ends in a blessing to parents. It is a promise given to those who are ascending into the presence of God, bringing their children with them based on Deuteronomy 11:18-21, which states,
"You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth."
Ascending into the presence of God is a family affair. When we involve our children in worship to the LORD, the promise to parents is that we will not be ashamed by their conduct. When we stand in the gates (representative of places of authority, Ps. 122), we won't blush at the mention of our children's names, even if we are standing before our enemies, because we have taught them the precepts of God.
As Walter and I restored the family altar in our home, worshipping with our boys brought us closer as a family. As we took communion with one another and shared our hearts, all pretense was washed away, and the presence of the LORD inhabited our praises. Let me encourage you today to make a concerted effort to seek the LORD together. Do not forsake it. You and your home will be blessed!