WIMTBR: Covenantal – Implications … for Marriage

SB-March15-2015In the latest Standard Bearer issue (March 15, 2015) Prof. Barry Gritters continues his series of editorials on “What It Means to Be Reformed” (WIMTBR), in connection with the 90th anniversary of the forming of the PRCA. He is answering this question by organizing the Reformed faith under five (5) “Cs”, the first of which is “Covenantal”.

In the March 1 issue he laid out the meaning of this primary Reformed truth, showing its distinctive unconditional and particular nature, especially as developed, maintained, and defended in the PRC. In this March 15 editorial Gritters draws out four (4) implications of this covenant doctrine. The last one is “The Covenant of Marriage”, and it is from this one that I quote today:

Finally, a Reformed church will be a church that defends the precious institution of marriage. If marriage is the preeminent biblical illustration of God’s covenant with His elect, what better way for the covenant seed to learn about covenant than by observing good marriages! If one were an enemy of God’s church, one of the main bulwarks he would assail – with mortar after mortar and one battering ram after another – would be the bulwark of Christian marriage. Thus, the institution we most earnestly defend is the institution of marriage.

No one can write such words in AD 2015 without feeling a great sense of sadness, and a good deal of righteous anger, that the devil had made such headway in his battle against the covenant by ruining so many marriages.

…Reformed believers must give their entire life and all their energy, working and praying, that God preserve our marriages. We must preach and preach, and teach and teach, and then preach and teach some more, the biblical doctrine of marriage – preach that God ‘hates putting away;’ preach that, even if marriage is only temporal, it is still one of the most important temporal institutions God created in the beginning for the preservation of His covenant people.

…And may our gracious God forgive (and correct) what sins He may be judging in churches where the covenant perhaps is accurately taught but not truly lived, one of the most flagrant ways to offend the covenant God (272).

Grace Privileges Lead to Grace Duties – S.Ferguson

In Christ Alone - SFergusonAs promised, we post this follow-up to our post last Sunday on the gracious privileges that belong to us as NT believers – privileges of God’s covenant of grace. Continuing to treat the warning passages in Hebrews, Sinclair Ferguson has this to say about the duties that are also ours as members of God’s covenant:

Faith and repentance are not static, the decision of a moment; they are the lifelong realities  of a new heart (8:10; 10:16). Yes, our faith and repentance have a starting point, but it is the beginning of a pilgrimage we share with the community of the new covenant. If we do not walk in faith and repentance, we may be among the visible people of Christ, but we are not a living part of them because we never mix the promise of God with faith (Heb.4:2).

So we already ‘have come to Mount Zion… the heavenly Jerusalem.’ But we have not yet finally entered it. We hear its worship; we experience its power; its light illumines our camping ground (Heb.6:4-5). The doors of the city are never shut (Rev.21:25), but we do not yet dwell inside the city gates. There is a river still to be crossed. God’s covenant faithfulness calls for faith that perseveres to the end.

When we have seen the privileges that are already ours, we have every reason to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and persevere in penitential faith until that which is now ours in part becomes ours in whole and forever.

Taken from In Christ Alone (Kindle ed.)

The Prayers of J.Calvin – Jeremiah Lectures (5)

JCalvinPic1The next prayer of John Calvin that we post follows his fourth lecture on the prophecy of Jeremiah, covering chap.1:18-19 and chap.2:1-5. But before posting the prayer, once again we quote from a portion of his lecture. In connection with vss.1-2 of chap.2 of Jeremiah, Calvin has these wonderful things to say about the steadfastness of God’s covenant love for His wayward people:

Now this is a remarkable passage; for God shews that his covenant, though perfidiously violated by the Jews, was yet firm and immutable: for though not all who derive their descent according to the flesh from Abraham, are true and legitimate Israelites, yet God ever remains true, and his calling, as Paul says, is without repentance (Rom.x1. 29) We may therefore learn this from the Prophet’s words, – that God was not content with one Prophet, but continued his favour, inasmuch as he would not render void his covenant. The Jews indeed had impiously departed from the covenant, and a vast number had deservedly perished, having been wholly repudiated; yet God designed really to shew that his grace depends not on the inconstancy of men, as Paul says in another place, for it would then presently fail (Rom.iii. 4;) and that were all men false and perfidious, God would yet remain true and fixed in his purpose. This we learn from the Prophet’s words, when it is said, that God remembered the people on account of the kindness of their youth (71).

And then this beautiful prayer follows:

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou continuest at this day, both morning and evening, to invite us to thyself, and assiduously exhortest us to repent, and testifiest that thou art ready to be reconciled to us, provided we flee to thy mercy, – O grant, that we may not close our ears and reject this thy great kindness, but that remembering thy gratuitous election, the chief of all favours thou hast been pleased to shew us, we may strive so to devote ourselves to thee, that thy name may be glorified through our whole life: and should it be that we at any time turn aside from thee, may we quickly return to the right way, and become submissive to thy holy admonitions, that it may thus appear that we have been so chosen by thee and called as to desire to continue in the hope of that salvation, to which thou invitest us, and which is prepared for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. – Amen (76).

The Prayer of Faith (2) – S.Ferguson

In Christ Alone - SFergusonThis is a follow-up to my post last Monday, in the place where Dr.Sinclair Ferguson is treating the proper idea of “the prayer of faith” (contra Pentecostal teaching) based on the passage in James 5:15, “And the prayer of faith shall save him….”

These are the immediately following paragraphs to that section from Ferguson’s book In Christ Alone:

The struggles we sometimes experience in prayer, then, are often part of the process by which God gradually brings us to ask for only what He has promised to give. The struggle is not our wrestling to bring Him to give us what we desire, but our wrestling with His Word until we are illuminated and subdued by it, saying, ‘Not my will, but Your will be done.’ Then, as Calvin again says, we learn ‘not to ask for more than God allows.’

This is why true prayer can never be divorced from real holiness. The prayer of faith can be made only by the ‘righteous’ man whose life is being more and more aligned with the covenant grace and purposes of God. In the realm of prayer, too (since it is a microcosm of the whole of the Christian life), faith (prayer to the covenant Lord) without works (obedience to the covenant Lord) is dead (Kindle ed.)

J.Calvin on Psalm 148: “Nor are we to seek the cause… elsewhere than in the mere love of God.”

JCalvinPicAlso for our meditation on Psalm 148 today, we include these thoughts of John Calvin on the last verse, v.14. Here  he reflects on God’s particular blessing on His church in the midst of all His goodness on display in creation, a blessing that calls for our special praise. May his words also inspire us to bless the God Who has so richly blessed us by His grace in Christ Jesus.

14. And hath exalted the horn, etc. As we saw in the former Psalm, that the perfections of God are to be seen more conspicuously in the Church than in the constitution of the world at large, the Psalmist has added this sentence, as to the Church being protected by the divine hand, and armed with a power against all enemies which secures its safety in every danger.

By the horn, as is well known, is meant strength or dignity. Accordingly the Psalmist means that God’s blessing is apparent in his Church and among his chosen people, inasmuch as it only flourishes and is powerful through his strength. There is a tacit comparison implied between the Church of God and other hostile powers, for it needs divine guardianship as being exposed on all sides to attack. Hence the Psalmist infers that praise is to all the merciful ones of God, for they have ground given them in the singular goodness of his condescension both for self-congratulation and praise.

In calling the children of Israel a people near unto God, he reminds them of the gracious covenant which God made with Abraham. For how came the nearness, except in the way of God’s preferring an unknown despised stranger to all nations? Nor are we to seek the cause of the distinction elsewhere than in the mere love of God. Though all the world equally belongs to God, he graciously discovered himself to the children of Israel, and brought them near to him, strangers as they were from God, even as are the whole race of Adam.

Hence the words of Moses —

“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, and distributed the peoples, he stretched forth his line to Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 32:8.)

He is to be considered, therefore, as pointing out the cause why God hath extended such signal blessings to a single people, and a people poor and despised — his adoption of them to himself.

Prof.R.Cammenga’s Thesis Now Available in Print: “God of Friendship”

Prof.Ronald CammengaLate last week Prof.R.Cammenga (professor of Dogmatics and OT Studies in our PRC Seminary) came through the doors of Seminary loaded with a large box filled with large black volumes. And yet, though loaded under the weight of these volumes, he was clearly enthused, for the box contained the printed (bound) copies of his recently completed thesis from Calvin Seminary, “in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Theology and successfully defended on April 29, 2013.” The certificate in the front of each volume (dated August 1, 2014) is signed by Profs.Richard A.Muller and John Bolt, the former serving as Supervisor.

The thesis Prof.Cammenga successfully defended and which was subsequently approved is titled “God of Friendship: Herman Hoeksema’s Unconditional Covenant Conception.” Those in the PRC – and many on the outside of her – will certainly recognize the significance of this work, for the Reformed and Biblical truth of the unconditional nature of God’s covenant of grace with His elect people in Jesus Christ lay at the heart of Hoeksema’s theology. This was a truth that Hoeksema distinctively developed in connection with the PRC controversies with W.Heyns (CRC) and K.Schilder (Liberated in the Netherlands), though, as Cammenga ably and clearly points out, Hoeksema stood in good company with this teaching and taught this from the beginning of his ministry, also in the Christian Reformed Church.

In the “abstract” Prof.Cammenga lays out the main theme of his thesis:

This thesis is a study of the doctrine of the covenant of grace as developed by the Protestant Reformed theologian Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965). In the thesis I will focus particularly on Hoeksema’s teaching that the covenant of grace is unconditional, both in its establishment and its maintenance. I will demonstrate that already in the early 1920s, while yet a minister in the Christian Reformed Church, Hoeksema’s understanding of the covenant was impacted by his convictions concerning election. Throughout his lifetime Hoeksema never wavered from his fundamental view of the covenant of grace in its relationship to God’s sovereign, gracious decree of election (vi).

“God of Friendship” is divided into four (4) main parts:

  1. The Covenant as a Bond of Friendship
  2. Election Applied to the Covenant
  3. Within the Tradition (here Cammenga defends the view that Hoeksema was by no means alone in his understanding of the covenant)
  4. The Unconditional Covenant (here Cammenga treats the contemporary controversies in which Hoeksema was engaged)

Prof.Cammenga affectionately dedicates this thesis to his son Daniel (1988-2004), “departed and in glory, whose parents rejoice in God’s covenant promise ‘to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee (Genesis 17:7).” Indeed, the doctrine of the covenant is no cold, abstract truth, but the source of the believer’s comfort and hope, in life and in death, for time and for eternity.

This is to inform you that a limited number of copies have been purchased and are for sale ($20) in the Seminary Bookstore. Contact the office if you would like a copy (616-531-1490).

May “TableTalk”: Reformed (Covenant) Theology – Burk Parsons

Reformed (Covenant) Theology by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-May2014The new issue of Tabletalk is out, and this month’s theme is (and should be!) a very special one to our readers - the doctrine of the covenant. Under the title “What’s So New About the New Covenant?”, the editor and writers have put together an interesting collection of articles defining and defending Reformed covenant theology, especially from the viewpoint of how the NT covenant is different from the OT covenant (i.e., what is its newness?).

Our PRC readers will be especially and keenly (and should be!) interested in what is set forth in this issue. There are going to be significant differences in what is taught from our own distinctive views, yet it is good to read what others teach about this key Reformed doctrine so that our own faith may be sharpened. And there are also things we may learn from others, so that we are better understand their position and be able to defend the truth of God’s Word at those points at which we differ. Read to learn and to discern, therefore.

“TT” editor Burk Parsons introduces the theme with the above-linked article. I also read yesterday the first feature article by Dr. Mark Jones, a PCA pastor from Vancouver, BC. He opens the main articles with one titled “What is a Covenant?”, where he defends the idea of conditions, though with qualification. You will want to read that carefully and respond Biblically and confessionally.

But here for today is part of Parsons’ introduction. Good thoughts to get us revved up about covenant theology!

My theological journey to Reformed theology was not an easy one. For more than two years I fought against the doctrines of grace with all of the free will I could muster, until I came to my knees and admitted that God is God—that God is sovereign and I am not. Coming to grips with the sovereignty of God not only changed my understanding of salvation; it changed my understanding of everything. For two more years, armed with all my dispensational presuppositions, I continued to fight against confessional Reformed theology. I carefully examined Scripture, and with great scrutiny I studied our theological forefathers on every side of the debate about covenant theology. But it wasn’t until I came to grasp the newness and the nature of the new covenant and the relationship between the old and new covenants that I came to see God not only as sovereign over the salvation of His people, but also as covenantal in the way He relates to, sanctifies, and saves His people. In the end, I came to see that “Reformed theology,” as R.C. Sproul has said, is just a nickname for “covenant theology.”

…The new covenant is new in that the long-awaited Messiah has come and has fulfilled the old, and the new covenant is superior in its scale, simplicity, and scope. Rather than narrowing the scope of the new covenant, covenant theology consistently portrays the broad and beautiful vista of the new covenant, leading us as God’s covenant people to worship our covenant-keeping God, coram Deo, before His face, both now and forever in Christ our covenant head.

And, by the way, we might also mention that the daily devotions continue on the book of Romans with chapter six and the truth of our sanctification being treated at present.

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 133

Psalm133Our psalm for consideration for worship preparation this first Lord’s Day in May is the fourteenth “song of degrees” (or ascent), the brief but beautiful Psalm 133. Sung and shouted by the OT church as she made her pilgrim journey to Jerusalem, the city of God, we the NT church join the throng in making this melodious music as we make our pilgrim journey through this world to the heavenly city of God.

We have already seen that these “songs of degrees” cover the spectrum of the church’s life here on earth – from her joys to her sorrows, from her corporate life of worship to her personal family life, from her confession of sin to her confession of God’s great, saving mercy. Now in this next song of ascent we hear God’s people describe another key element of her worship – and therefore of her preparation for worship: her precious unity in Christ revealed in the communion of saints.

Listen to Zion’s song in this part of God’s holy Word:

Psalm 133

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard,even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

Do we have a strong sense of the importance of this precious unity of the body of Christ as we prepare for worship today? Are you and am I ready and desirous to sing that first stanza? Is the gift of dwelling together in unity as so many diverse Christians really good and pleasant to us?

We look forward, I trust, to our blessed fellowship with our covenant God through Christ and His Spirit. But do we also look forward to our fellowship with our fellow covenant believers? We want to dwell unitedly with our Father in heaven, but do we also wish to dwell unitedly with His people on earth? Are we thrilled to see the Lord in His beauty today, but are we also thrilled to see our fellow saints in their beauty?

If we doubt or downplay the beauty and blessedness of this precious unity in the church, then we need to read and re-read these three verses. Yes, as NT believers, we should read and sing them in the light of  John 17 and the book of Ephesians, for example. So that we remember what our Lord prayed for for us before He laid down His life to accomplish this unity of His body. And so that we may learn all that He did to make this communion a reality for every Jew and Gentile He would save and incorporate into His elect church. It is heaven-rending, earth-shaking, heart-storming, life-changing work! To make this selfish, hateful,  independent sinner a member of His church, able to dwell together with other such sinners, took the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of God in our flesh! As well as the pouring out of His Spirit on His entire body!

No wonder the church shouts at the outset, “Behold!” “Stop and take note of this blessed unity of the church! Look and see what the Head of the church did to achieve it! Marvel at His grace and goodness in joining us together into a fellowship and making us dwell together in unity!” How good and how pleasant indeed! How precious is communion with Christ and how precious is communion with His body!

Right here, in this sacred fellowship of the church, where the blood-bought, Spirit-bestowed unity of His Son is revealed, Jehovah God commands the blessing (v.3). O, that blessing is like the oil that ran down Aaron’s beard. And it is like the dew that fell on Zion’s mountains. But it is really is incomparable and inestimable. What is that blessing? Not merely the unity. But life – life for evermore! Everlasting life!

Now read the end of the book of Revelation, and see where this precious unity ends. Remember the ultimate sabbath to come and the perfect worship that will be. Imagine the bliss of that unity! And now, go and sing with God’s people in the presence of the Lord of glory, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Amen!

Psalter1912If you wish to meditate on this psalm through the music of the Psalter, I encourage you to make use of this versification, Ps.#370. The lyrics are posted here; the music you may find at the link provided.

1. How good and pleasant is the sight
When brethren make it their delight
To dwell in blest accord;
Such love is like anointing oil
That consecrates for holy toil
The servants of the Lord.

2. Such love in peace and joy distils,
As o’er the slopes of Hermon’s hills
Refreshing dew descends;
The Lord commands His blessing there,
And they that walk in love shall share
In life that never ends.

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 132

Psalm132Today for our “Sunday worship preparation” devotionals we return to our series on the book of Psalms. Specifically, we are treating the ‘songs of degree” (or ascent) at present, ready to examine the thirteenth one, Psalm 132. For a brief reminder and review of the nature of these psalms, go back to our last post, on Psalm 131.

For now, let’s move on to Psalm 132, where we find this Word of God in Christ:

Psalm 132

Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions:

How he sware unto the Lordand vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;

Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;

I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,

Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

6Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.

We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.

Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.

Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.

10 For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.

11 The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.

13 For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.

14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.

15 I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.

16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.

17 There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.

18 His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.

It is immediately evident that this is a significant psalm for the church in both the OT and the NT. This prayer (that is its form, even a prayer of lament) centers on the covenant God made with David – the “sure mercies of David” (cf. Is.55:3 and Acts 13:34) and the promised Son of David in the covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Lu.1:32; Acts 2:30).

Here the psalmist (who probably was not David, as the heading to my Bible states) beseeches God to remember David and to fulfill His covenant promises to him, especially as regards that Messianic Son and as regards God’s dwelling in Zion as His abiding resting place. In fact, the second part of the psalm is nothing else but a repetition of the Lord’s promises to David concerning his covenant Son and concerning dwelling in Zion. This, in effect, is the psalmists petition and appeal: “Lord of the covenant, fulfill Thy word to king David, because this is what Thou hast said! Bring the promised Son, dwell in Zion, and bless her richly! Do not forget Thy word or this covenant, and do not forsake Thy servant!”

And we should, then, clearly understand that all of Israel’s salvation and life was wrapped up in these two matters of the covenant – the coming of the Son of David and the Lord’s making of the church His dwellingplace. Take those away and Israel (the church) is nothing. If these two covenant promises are left unfulfilled, Israel is not saved and the church is an empty shell. And then, there also is no worship, as you can see from the rest of the psalm (vss.7-9). It is that simple and that serious. The psalmist understood this, and this is why he prays so fervently. Do we understand this too? And do we pray equally fervently?

It would be easy for us to say, “But the psalmist’s concerns in Psalm 132 have been answered. The Lord did keep His word to David. He did fulfill His covenant promises to His anointed. Christ Jesus, the Son of David, has come. He perfectly kept God’s covenant and testimony (v.12) on behalf of the elect He came to save. As their sinless Priest-King, he made the perfect sacrifice for their sins. God has come and made Zion His dwellingplace. Through the risen Christ and His poured-out Spirit, God rests now in His church. And He is blessing her constantly – satisfying her poor and clothing her priests (vss.15-16). This is why we as the church gather in His presence each week and worship at the feet of our covenant God. This is why we saints shout for joy! Yes, God has accomplished His covenant promises in Christ! It’s all done!”

But while this is true, it is not the complete picture. For reality is that God is not done with His covenant promises in Christ, and we as His NT church have not yet received the fullness of  salvation in the Son of David. If we can imagine it, there are even bigger and better things yet to come! We still await the manifestation of the heavenly kingdom of our Lord in the new creation and the perfect life of the covenant with God in glory. God is bringing David’s Son from heaven once more and when He does, His tabernacle will be completed and His resting place fully achieved.

And we who still experience the burden of sin and the sufferings of this present life, also in our worship, (as the psalmist did in his age – cf. v.1 again – “all his afflictions”), but who have the Lord’s sure promises to David and David’s Son ringing in our ears and stirring up our hearts, – we pray earnestly, “Arise, O LORD, into thy rest! Bring Jesus once more and accomplish the perfect rest of the new heavens and earth! Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly and fully realize the tabernacle of God!”

Because now our worship is so imperfect – on account of our sin and weakness, and on account of the fact that we are still in this old world of sin and shame. But we desire the perfect day of worship when God and we are at perfect covenant rest. Do you see now why this psalm-prayer must be and is ours? Then, as long as we wait for our Savior to come, let’s pray it and sing it!

Psalter1912If you wish to meditate on this psalm through the music of the Psalter, I encourage you to make use of this versification, Ps.#368. The lyrics are posted here; the music you may find at the link provided.

1. Arise, O Lord, our God, arise
And enter now into Thy rest;
O let this house be Thy abode,
Forever with Thy presence blest.

2. Thy gracious covenant, Lord, fulfill,
Turn not away from us Thy face;
Establish Thou Messiah’s throne
And let Him reign within this place.

3. Thy Zion Thou hast chosen, Lord,
And Thou hast said, I love her well,
This is my constant resting place,
And here will I delight to dwell.

4. I will abundantly provide
For Zion’s good, the Lord hath said;
I will supply her daily need
And satisfy her poor with bread.

5. Salvation shall adorn her priests,
Her saints shall shout with joy divine,
Messiah’s power shall be revealed,
His glory in His Church shall shine.

Sunday Worship Preparation: Psalm 128

Psalm128Hearing the Triune God’s call to assemble with our fellow saints in worship of Him, we ready ourselves physically by rising and refreshing ourselves, but also spiritually by rising and refreshing our souls through the Word of God and prayer. As we do so, we may well consider the Scripture in Psalm 128, the next “song of ascent” (or degrees) which we study together. Here is the Word of God in that place:

 Psalm 128

Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.

2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall bewell with thee.

3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.

5 The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.

You will notice that this is another “family psalm”, closely tied to the previous one, which we considered last time (see my Feb.2, 2014 post). I encourage you to go back and read my introductory comments on Psalm 127 about how the focus on the covenant family applies to the worship of the church in the OT as well as in the NT, since those same thoughts apply to Psalm 128.

With Psalm 128 before us, we should also picture the pilgrim people of God singing these words as they make their journey to Jerusalem (“going up”) for public worship. And as the body of Christ goes together, single believers but also godly husbands with wives at their sides and children in tow, they are deeply conscious of God’s covenant blessings. Together they make up God’s covenant community, with God as their Father, Jesus Christ as their elder Brother, and with one another as spiritual brothers and sisters.

Yet the church is also made up of so many individual covenant homes, led by God-fearing husbands and fathers, who take seriously the worship of the Lord. Because they fear Jehovah, the unchanging God of the covenant, and walk in His ways (v.1), they practice private, family worship in their home. These godly men lead their wives and children in reading and learning God’s Word and in prayer. They teach their families the fear of the Lord and call them too to walk in His ways. And in this way too they prepare their families for public worship. And when the sabbath comes, these God-fearing men make sure their wives and children are present at and participate in the public worship of Jehovah.

In other words, the worship of covenant families is indispensable for the worship of the covenant church! It is important for us to remember this vital connection. Do we expect our wife and children to worship on the Lords Day if we do not worship with them during the week? Do we expect them to desire the presence of the Lord and to participate in worship if there is no desire for Him and no worship of Him during the week? Do we think they will want to grow in the knowledge and fear of the Lord on Sunday through public worship if we are not leading them in these matters in family worship during the week?

My fellow husbands and fathers, let us heed the import of this psalm according to its context! The public worship of Jehovah begins in our own hearts and in our own homes, as we fear God and lead our families day by day in worship of the Lord. Are we diligent and faithful in this? Are we daily reading God’s Word and praying together? This is the man that is blessed according to Psalm 128. And this is the man whose godly family impacts the church for great good. Read those last two verses again and see the close tie between the godliness of our marriages and homes and the blessing of the “good of Jerusalem”, even “peace upon Israel”!

May we remember, repent of our own sin and weakness in this, and return to the godly way of worshiping as families – for the great blessing of our homes. And that will lead to godly worship on Sunday – for the great blessing of the church of Christ.

Psalter1912If you wish to meditate on Psalm 128 through the music of the Psalter, I direct you to this versification. At that page you will also find piano accompaniment. Here are the lyrics to Ps.#360:

1. Blest the man that fears Jehovah,
Walking ever in His ways;
By thy toil thou shalt be prospered
And be happy all thy days.

2. In thy wife thou shalt have gladness,
She shall fill thy home with good,
Happy in her loving service
And the joys of motherhood.

3. Joyful children, sons and daughters,
Shall about thy table meet,
Olive plants, in strength and beauty,
Full of hope and promise sweet.

4. Lo, on him that fears Jehovah
Shall this blessedness attend,
For Jehovah out of Zion
Shall to thee His blessing send.

5.Thou shalt see God’s kingdom prosper
All thy days, till life shall cease,
Thou shalt see thy children’s children;
On Thy people, Lord, be peace.

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