The Rewarding and Challenging Vocation of a Father
One of the more popular books of the Bible are the Psalms. They are songs, written by people who wanted to express their emotions to God. People relate to them because they are not just songs but also prayers – expressions of hope and trust, belief and faith. Psalm 127 stands out among these Psalms because it talks about the family. In reading it, we will notice that it has a very masculine emphasis, many of the analogies and imagery used refer to men. Embedded in this psalm are timely reminders about the father’s role and reward.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
2 In vain you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat-- for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.
5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127 NIV
The Father's Responsibilities.
In this psalm, the Father’s many roles and responsibilities are enumerated.
Builder. He is mentioned as a builder, “someone who makes a structure by putting parts together”. From the time a man commits himself in marriage to a woman, the time of building a family has already begun. Fathers have this solemn responsibility in seeing to it that the home is built around the priorities that God has set for it. As builders, fathers are also called upon to help form and develop the character of our children.
Watchman. A father is also a “watchman”. In ancient times, cities would have watchmen standing on the walls of the city to guard it from attacks. A father is a watchman in the sense that we guard the family from whatever or whoever might want to harm or hurt.
Provider. A father is also mentioned as a “worker” (verse 2) or “provider”. People might think that this refers simply to the physical needs of the children but the role of provider extends to the full range of needs a family may have – whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual.
Warrior (verse 4) A father is the family’s champion. He faces the challenges so that the family is not exposed to danger.
Being a father is a great challenge for any man. How else can a person measure up to these standards? That’s where this passage gets interesting because the main message of the psalm is not to inform Dads of their responsibilities but to remind us that God is more than willing to help us fulfill the calling….
Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. (verse 1)
Fathers, we need to learn this wonderful truth….that all the “building”, “guarding” and “providing” will be in vain unless we recognize the authority and power of God. God wants to help fathers who are willing to acknowledge the enormity of the challenge and recognize that they cannot make it one their own.
The Father’s Reward.
The fathers who have learned to partner with God and have learned to depend on His strength will then be recipients of peace (he grants sleep to those he loves), fulfillment (blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them) honor and dignity (they will not be put to shame).
Fatherhood, even with all its challenges and responsibilities, is still a great privilege. Done in partnership with God, it is the most fulfilling calling in the world. Happy Father’s Day!
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