“May our sons flourish in their youth
    like well-nurtured plants.
May our daughters be like graceful pillars,
    carved to beautify a palace.
May our barns be filled
    with crops of every kind.
May the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands,
    even tens of thousands,
    and may our oxen be loaded down with produce.
May there be no enemy breaking through our walls,
    no going into captivity,
    no cries of alarm in our town squares.
Yes, joyful are those who live like this!
    Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord.”
Psalm 144:12-15 NLT

What a lovely picture of God’s blessings. In just a few verses, David, the Psalmist, sums up blessings in three areas – the family, prosperity, and safety. And all because these people truly believe, and trust, in God, their Lord. What a lovely picture of sons and daughters, being raised in a Godly home, growing and functioning just as God ordained. Near where I live there is a new wooded area with some Ash and Sycamore saplings. Many of them are growing incredibly straight and strong, reaching skywards because they are “well-nurtured” by the climate God has provided for them. And you can just imagine these beautiful daughters exquisitely sculpted like “graceful pillars” by our Master Craftsman, God Himself.  Mums aren’t mentioned in these few verses, but I’m sure they were in there somewhere too. In today’s society, often experiencing dysfunctional family life, there is something very attractive about David’s picture. And everything that this family does seems to multiply prosperity – these family members don’t need to enter a world of crime or dodgy deals to see their wealth increase. And there’s more – they live in a time of peace without fear of an attack by the enemy nations around them. No fear of burglars breaking in, or attacks in dark alleys. 

Are you thinking that this is all too good to be true? I don’t think so. Just because we don’t realise the blessings as described, or relate to the pictures the Psalmist paints, doesn’t mean that they do not, or will not, happen. But we notice that the blessings described all start with the word “May”. The Psalmist is praying a blessing on his family. He realises that it is only God who can turn his vision into reality. Though we know from various accounts, that David’s family life was often lacking functionality – we read for example the debacle with Absalom in 2 Samuel – such experiences didn’t stop David from praying. And neither must we stop praying either. Those of us who don’t have a family must know one that we can pray blessings over. And we must never stop thanking God for all the blessings He pours out on us. Food on our tables. The basics of life like air to breath and water to drink. The list is endless. It is pointless to focus on what we don’t have. Rather we should focus on God Himself. He never tires of blessing us, often in ways we won’t appreciate until we are in His presence. And there’s only one condition, and that is we must obey Him. Not for His sake, but for ours.

The Apostle Paul said in his epistle to the Philippians church, “I am convinced that my God will fully satisfy every need you have, for I have seen the abundant riches of glory revealed to me through Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 4:19 TPT). On the wall of his prison cell, Paul could see in his mind a similar picture to David. A vista vibrant with the potential of God’s “abundant riches of glory“. God’s blessings are not beyond our reach. He is not a stingy God at all. As David prayed, we pray too – may God bless us all today. Amen.

The Lord’s Blessing

“How joyful are those who fear the Lord— 
all who follow His ways! 
You will enjoy the fruit of your labour. 
How joyful and prosperous you will be! 
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, 
flourishing within your home. 
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees
as they sit around your table. 
That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear Him.”
Psalms‬ ‭128:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

An idyllic scene, with words such as “wife”, “children”, and “home” intermingled with feel-good words such as “fruit”, “joyful”, “prosperous” and “blessing”. No sign of negative words casting an opposite picture. Is this cameo of family life a bit like a fairy tale, from a story book, or is it a practical reality? Is it perhaps a reflection of family life in the more misogynistic days of pre-Christian Jewish society, and without relevance in our 21st Century Western society?

There are two keys here in these few verses that are timeless, and applicable in all societies, past, present and future. The first is having a “fear” of the Lord. This isn’t the negative place of cowering, petrified, before a more powerful and malignant being. It is having the respect for God, believing and acknowledging that He is who He says He is. The Creator of the Universe. The Giver of life. Our loving Heavenly Father. The all-powerful, omni-present Lord of all. But it is more than just having the head knowledge of God being there. It also involves aligning our lives to His, helped by His Spirit, with a righteous standing before Him through the blood of Jesus. And that brings us on to the second key – we have to follow His ways. This is the process of translating the head knowledge we have about God into a personal and changed life, where we cast aside our selfish desires and take on board God’s desires.

The Psalmist was convinced that a life of God-fear and God-following would transform his life. and he wanted to share his wonderful experience with others, through the words in this Psalm. Words that will change lives, not just individually, but in our families as well. Transformed lives functioning as God intended. That’s where I want to be, Folks.

Solomon’s Prayer

“Give your love of justice to the king, O God, 
and righteousness to the king’s son. 
Help him judge your people in the right way; 
     let the poor always be treated fairly. 
May the mountains yield prosperity for all, 
     and may the hills be fruitful. 
Help him to defend the poor, 
     to rescue the children of the needy, 
     and to crush their oppressors.”
Psalms‬ ‭72:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Psalm 72 was written by Solomon, David’s second son from his marriage with Bathsheba. This Psalm is a prayer with three interwoven themes, instructions to the king, prosperity for all, and justice and provision for the poor. But do these themes have any relevance for Western societies today? 

Regarding instructions for the king we can overlay them onto our democratic system and its political leaders. The Psalmist lists love of justice, righteousness, treating people fairly and judging in the right way as being qualities that leaders should adhere to. So when the opportunity comes to vote for our leaders, we should look for these qualities in the candidates, praying for God to help us in the selection process. And it reminds us that we should pray for our political leaders, that they will faithfully follow God’s ways.

One word that repeatedly crops up in the Psalm is “May”. It’s a word that is full of a prayerful aspiration for something good to happen. An expression of hope. A yearning for better times. Verse 3 sets out a prayer for prosperity, with a picture of the mountains and hills providing a fruitful source. Prosperity for everyone, not just the favoured few. This is a prayer for today as well. Many parts of our world today are experiencing poverty. Famines and diseases are rife. Wars destroy what little some people have. And we have a terrible imbalance between the rich and the poor nations. So we must pray for all people, and provide from our resources what we can. But there is a wider, more prevalent, poverty. Poverty of spirit is a universal problem, affecting all nations, whether rich or poor. Jesus highlighted the “poor in spirit” in the first of the Beatitudes. Such people realise their need for God, and can approach Him with open hands to receive His riches, the prosperity found in His Kingdom. 

But in this Psalm, Solomon writes about how the leader should protect the poor in his nation. It is interesting that Solomon didn’t pray for the poor to become rich and prosperous. He accepted that in spite of the prosperity of the nation, there were still poor, needy and oppressed people, and he prayed for the leader to do what was necessary to look after them. Though Western societies are generally rich and prosperous, we still have poor people who are needy and oppressed. Jesus said in John 12:8, “You will always have the poor among you…”. And that is certainly today’s experience. The solution has evaded every generation since Solomon. But as God’s people, we must pray and help those in need in our communities and families.

There is perhaps a prophetic hint of the Messiah’s reign to come in this Psalm, with its reference to the “ends of the earth” in verse 8. That is when we will see the reality of the prayers of this Psalm fulfilled.