Dear radio friends,
What do you want most for your child? What would the world today say is the most important thing to be secured for the life of a child? Financial security? Safety? Health? Imparting to them the ability to make wise decisions? What do you desire for your child?
You see, this desire reveals really the deepest part of your own soul. What you want for your child really is the expression of what you desire above all things.
As people of God we give an answer to that question. God has taught us the answer, but God has also placed the answer in our hearts. We answer this way: We want Christ and the holy life in Jesus Christ and, specifically, we want for our children the life of Christ in His church, a true church, where the Word of God is preached in its purity in order that they might live to the praise and the glory of God. And if you now, as an adult, whether you are a parent or not, love God’s church, then you will also desire these blessings to be bestowed upon the coming generation, upon the children, upon young people. And you will live in such a way as under the blessing of God to secure those blessings for the coming generation — the blessings of the church, the blessings of a holy life, the blessings of living in the church with the people of God to the praise and to the glory of God in the truth of God’s Word.
A parent’s prayer is expressed very beautifully in Psalm 144:11, 12, which serves as the basis of our meditation today. We read: “Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.”
Psalm 144 is a psalm written by David. David, at this point in his life, when inspired to pen this psalm, was an old man. He had turned his thoughts to the future of his kingdom. It was written when David stooped under the weight of many years and his hairs now were gray. He was beginning to realize that he would not be among the people of God much longer. What does he pray for? What does he want for them in the coming years when he is gone? He wants prosperity. He wants prosperity for his kingdom from the viewpoint of the spiritual development and faithfulness of the children who were to come. That is what he wants when he is gone. The older he got, it seems, the more he sensed this great need. The older he got, the more clearly he saw that this was the urgent need of the hour. He beseeches God for the spiritual growth and welfare of the sons and daughters that he saw around him throughout the kingdom, of his own sons and daughters and of his grandchildren. He wants the coming generation to be strong in the Lord.
This must be our prayer as parents. Not only as parents, but as a people of God. And not just for our own children, but for all the children of the church and for the sake of the church. The broader perspective, of course, is not just parents. The whole congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ has an interest in the children of the church, has a very strong interest in those children. We love them in the covenant. The covenant is that glorious and wonderful truth that God is pleased to work His grace within the children born to believers. He establishes His covenant with believers and their children after them. We love our children in the love of God. Therefore we desire that they also stand with us in the truth and that they replace us when the Lord calls us from this life. That is our prayer for our sons and daughters.
Let us look at the prayer a little closer. We pray, first of all, for spiritually prosperous sons and daughters. David begins with the sons. He prays that “our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth.” He is praying for boys to grow up in the covenant strong and faithful in Jesus Christ. The plant that he has in mind is not a decorative plant that you might have in your house merely for appearance. But David has in mind the vineyard and the orchard. He has in mind the young sapling growing up, perhaps the olive plant. Those plants, those orchards, were necessity. They were for food, for cooking, for the needs of the people of God. So he is saying that the sons of the church are not simply there for appearance, not simply in the church so that we can admire them after our own flesh and pride ourselves over how handsome our sons are. But those sons are in the church in order that they might bear fruit to God, that they might live a life of obedience to God and to all of His commandments. So he is praying, and we are praying now with David, that our children, specifically our sons, live a productive life in the church bringing forth fruit to God — the fruit of a holy life, the fruit of a godly man — that our sons become men of God in this present world, prepared to lead the church as elders, deacons, or pastors. We want our little boys to grow up to be strong in faith and in the courage of Christ Jesus. That is what we desire.
We want our little boys to grow up to be strong
in faith and in the courage of Christ Jesus.
To do so, they must be raised. “That they might grow up,” says David, “in their youth as plants.” The time of youth is the crucial time that God has given for our physical and, above all, for our spiritual development. That is true in the plant world. If a plant does not grow in its youth, it is going to be stunted and weak. It is going to be bent and it is going to bear the effects of what happened to it in its early life as a plant. That is true of children. If a child is stunted in its childhood, this also, apart from the grace of God, can bear lifelong effects. Consider your own plants in the house. If you damage them, if you over-water them, if you neglect them, then you are affecting the very strength and the future of the plant.
The Word of God then is saying to us, “Do not neglect your children. Do not begin to think that they are going to grow up on their own.” Father, the most important thing is not how much money you are making or the house that you are living in or the car that you are driving. The most important thing is your devotions at the table, your speaking and living with your little boy, and teaching him and imparting to him the truths of God’s Word. That is the most important thing to you as a father.
This means that we must not abuse our children. We must not abuse them in any way. We must not abuse them with our sinful anger. We must not frustrate them. We must not provoke them. We must not deal with them out of our own frustrations and anger. Rather we must raise them up in our homes before an open Word of God. And we must live before them as the constant profession of what it means to be a child of God. They must be well-rooted. They must sink their spiritual roots down into the soil of the Word of God, into the Christ of the Scriptures and into the teachings of God’s Word. That is what they need.
That means, father and mother, that you must bring up your family in the true church of Jesus Christ. It does make a difference where you go to church. You must not choose a church simply by convenience, what is closest. You must not choose the church by what appears to your own eyes or if the church caters to your own feelings. No, you must look for that church where you will find the nutrients, the spiritual nutrients, the soil and the fertilizers of God’s Word. You must plant your family right into that church.
Do you put just any soil in your pots in the spring when you are going to put out your hanging plants in the yard? Do you say, “Well, any old soil is going to be fine for that geranium”? You can go get some gravel, some clay? Is that the way you choose soil for your geranium? “Well, no,” you say, “we need to have Miracle Gro! We need to have the richest and best potting soil available! We want the best for our plants.” Do you care more for your plants than you do for your own children?
What kind of soil are they being planted in? What kind of church do you attend? It must be a church where the Word of God is preached, where the Bible is believed as the infallible rule of faith in life, where there is catechism, that is, classes for your children where they can be instructed in the truth. That is the kind of soil into which your child must be planted.
Do you care more for your plants
than you do for your own children?
This is our prayer: “Lord, may our sons grow up strong, rooted in the truth, that they may flourish to Thy honor and glory in the church.”
But then we also have a prayer for our daughters, that our daughters may become as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace. There David has his eye on two things. He has his eyes on strength, as with the son, but also on beauty.
Now the cornerstone is very similar to a foundation stone, only here it is really referring to a pillar, a very beautifully polished and etched and carved pillar, so that work has been done upon this pillar to make it very attractive. What is our prayer for our daughters? What is your prayer? Is your prayer for your daughter that she have good looks, that she is able to make her own way in this world, elbow her way in the world of men? No, again, our prayer is that they be strong in faith, resting solely upon Christ, that their strength be in Christ, and that they be beautiful with the etchings of God — those marks of God’s hand upon them in purity and in wisdom, in love and in meekness and kindness — that our daughters may be strong in faith and carved with the very beauty of God Himself. That is our prayer.
We think, sometimes, that girls are spiritually weak. I’ve seen that attitude in the church of Jesus Christ. That is foolishness. God has given to the church strength in her women and in her daughters, strength for future marriages, strength for rearing children in the homes, strength for the steadfastness of the church. And God has given beauty to a woman, the beauty that God sees working in her His grace. Not the beauty of lipstick, but the beauty of patience, modesty, godly submission.
David is praying this. He is praying for all the sons and daughters of the church — “that our sons and our daughters may be this way.” He is thinking of the whole kingdom over which he has been placed. In other words, we are being taught that we must pray for the church — not just for our own children, and not just if we are parents. Every child of God is to have a covenant concern, a covenant burden, is to express a covenant prayer: “Lord, bless the coming generation — those little boys and little girls in church, those little toddlers.” You have everything to do with them, no matter how old you are, no matter even if the Lord has withheld from your marriage children. No matter who you are, you pray that the coming generation be strong and beautiful — strong young men and strong young women.
Then David becomes very pointed in his request. He says, “Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” What is he saying? He is saying that he does not want to see children growing up in the church who are carnal, who are impenitent and wicked. He wants that not to be seen. He wants the covenant children to be separate from such. He wants the covenant children coming up in the church to stand decidedly different from every evil influence in the world and from every evil companion. That is what he wants.
We need to see that. We need to see that as parents, and we need to see that as young people. We need to see that David, under the inspiration of the Scriptures, and also as an older child of God, as an older saint, fears something. What he is fearing is not so much the sword of Goliath. He is not afraid right now at the evil that is found outside necessarily. But he is concerned about the influences that are going to be placed upon the coming generation. He is concerned about the influences of evil that will be placed upon the sons and daughters growing up in the church. And he knows that these influences and these temptations that come upon them represent a power greater than any army that David ever had to face on the field of battle. There is a power in those evil influences coming upon our children that is stronger even than the sword of Goliath before which David stood as a young man. He says, “Rid me, deliver me, do away with these influences that would teach children to speak with mouths of vanity and which would teach them to have a right hand which is full of falsehood.” He says, “I want the covenant children to be delivered from them because I see those things as a great trap for them.”
These influences and these temptations
that come upon them represent a power
greater than any army that David ever had to face
on the field of battle.
When he speaks of mouths that speak vanity, he is not referring simply to profanity and dirty talk. That too. But he is referring to talk which is empty. There is no substance to it — as much of the talk in movies or in soap operas or on and on — the emptiness, the absolute emptiness of the world which rejects the Word of God. When he speaks of a right hand of falsehood, he is saying that very often the world of sin will appear to offer help to young people as well, that the world will come before the church and before our children and say, “Well, we just want to help, that is all.” But David says that this help is deceitful! This help will cause them to trust in their flesh and not in God.
Shall we apply this for a moment? Our concern for our children is a concern for their playmates (who they play with) and that we teach them how to discern and how to pick out the ones with whom they must associate. It is a concern for their dating. It is a concern for their entire life. As parents we are concerned that, as they come under the influences of the world, God will yet preserve them within the confines of the church and through the godly character of the church and of the adults and cause them to grow up godly and strong in the Lord.
This does not apply only to the physical contacts that our children experience sometimes while they are in the world — that we must monitor and be careful over as parents. But this influence of the world comes in other ways. It can come when you get into your car and you are on your way to work or on your way to bring your child somewhere and you have the radio on and you tune in to music, and the music that you listen to can be defined this way: mouths filled with vanity. What type of music do you listen to as a young parent? What did you listen to as a teenager? It is probably what you are listening to now as a young parent. What were you listening to? Do not say, as a teenager, “Well, it’s just this stage in my life. I’ll put it off.” You think so? Go talk to that young couple with one or two little children. In a frank spiritual discussion, ask them if that is so — that what they did as teenagers and young adults just sort of fell away. It is not true. What you listen to on the radio is important.
“Strange children” and “mouths filled with vanity” and “right hands of falsehood” appear, as I said before, on TV and on videos. Are you with those of the world through the instrumentality of the TV and video? Are you allowing your child to be influenced by murderers and rapists, fornicators, men with profane mouths? Rid me, says David, from these influences, for I desire that my sons and daughters, the coming generation, be a godly generation.
David desires this for the good of the church of Jesus Christ. And so do we. Let us make this our prayer today. Let us make this our unceasing prayer. Let us rid ourselves from the idea that the concerns for the future of children are just to be upon parents. But let us take this concern as a covenant people of God. Let all of us pray that the coming generation of the church be strong and faithful, strong and courageous in the truth, faithful in a holy life to the glory of God.
May God grant it. Let us pray.
Father in heaven, we pray today for the coming generation, for our young men, for our young women, for our little boys and little girls. We pray that, for Christ’s sake, they might be raised in godliness and that, according to the promise of Thy covenant, the principles of the truth might sink deep down into their hearts that they may buy the truth and sell it not. Bless Thy Word to our hearts. Watch over us in this week. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.