This past week of psalms were difficult for me and maybe for some of you. Psalms 127 and 128 are about the fruitful family, with pictures drawn of the wife and mother surrounded by her children, and Psalm 129 is about protection of the oppressed. As someone who has been told that I will never bear my own children without medical intervention, I cried when I studied these psalms. Yet at the same time God was merciful in meeting me in my tears and showing me that the words of these psalms apply just as much to me as they do to anyone else.
In Psalm 127, I am reminded that even children can become an idol in one’s life. God describes children as “a heritage from the LORD” but not “the heritage” — make sense? I limit the effectiveness of God in my life when I believe that bearing children is the only evidence that God has blessed me. As Beth Moore says, “God grants us heritage in numerous ways.” I have truly missed the point when I make having a baby an idol in my life that becomes my litmus test for God’s ability to bless me. Yes, children are a blessing, but God can bless me in other ways. Yes, children can be like protective arrows, but God can protect me in other ways. Yes, a full house of children is a reward, but God will reward me in other ways.
Psalm 128 continues with the metaphor of fruitfulness and prosperity, using both the Hebrew word “asher” for happy in verses 1 and 2, and the Hebrew word “barak” for blessed in verses 4 and 5. To me, the most important parallel drawn in the study of Psalm 128 is between the wife described as the “fruitful vine” in verse 3 and Christ referring to himself as “the vine” in John 15: 1-8. This point was raised during our Bible study meeting by a young woman who said that she loved reading about this parallel but didn’t fully understand it yet — I am right there with her.
We obey God’s command in Genesis 1 when we are “fruitful and multiply,” and we are told in John 15 that abiding as branches in the “vine” of Christ while allowing God to prune us will allow us to be even more fruitful. Apart from this vine we cannot bear fruit. Apart from this pruning process we will wither away. I keep coming back to the mental image of Christ as the central root the provides complete nourishment, and the only way that we can become the fruitful vine with olive shoots around our table is to glorify the Father by abiding faithfully in His Son.
Psalm 129 draws a very vivid picture of the attack of the Oppressor, beating down on the backs of the oppressed and attempting to bind us with ropes of affliction. Many people know this feeling well and, if you have ever suffered from depression, you will know this feeling like the back of your hand. There is nothing like the incredible binding constraint of an episode of depression. The only thing that exceeds the power of that feeling for me is when I immerse myself in the incredible freedom of God’s powerful word. Only then am I able to release myself to the power of God’s full authority in my life.
What becomes clear is that, for the world, freedom equals no authority but for the one abiding in Christ, freedom equals God’s authority. There is incredible freedom in allowing yourself and your life to be completely defined in Christ, and recognizing that even in our oppression His word is there to guide us out of our places of bondage and into the “broad place” (Psalm 18:19) of His complete redemption.
Study Guide answers (pages 116 and 117 of your study book):
- water pouring; rivers; living water