The Lord of New Beginnings


Sermon: The Lord of New Beginnings Date: November 19, 2023, Morning Text: Psalm 127 Series: Psalms Preacher: Josh Sheldon Audio:


Well, good morning to you. If you turn in your
Bibles to Psalm 127, that will be our text this morning for the preaching. Psalm 127.
Once you have that, please stand, and we will together read God's word. A song of a sense of Solomon.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for He gives to His beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
May God bless the reading. Now the proclamation of His word. Please be seated. Have you ever had a completely fresh beginning with something?
Like a clean slate, where the errors that you committed in the past, or maybe even recently, have just been wiped away.
You don't have to keep paying for them anymore. The error has been corrected, or somehow forgiven.
Like the great mulligan in golf. You know what a mulligan is? When the golf player, and I don't know why somebody would spend their time playing golf, but he hits the ball into the rough, and somebody very graciously takes it out of the rough and puts it back where he started, and doesn't count it on his card as one of his strokes.
He gets a mulligan. A clean slate, a fresh beginning. Have you ever had that?
Do you look forward to something like that? You know, God is the
Lord of new beginnings. God is the Lord of fresh starts. God is the Lord of the grand and divine mulligan, where the errors of our past, the sins that we've committed, are truly given over to another, to Jesus Christ.
And because of that, you have a fresh start. You have a clean slate. You have a new beginning in Christ the
Lord. Now, it might surprise you to hear this introduction in relation to Psalm 127, lest the
Lord builds the house, and so forth, and then children, the heritage, and the fruit of the womb, and lest there's a man who fills his quiver with many of them.
And why is this pastor, why is this preacher standing up and telling me about new beginnings and fresh starts in Christ Jesus our
Lord? Because that's what this psalm is about. Hear me this morning.
This psalm, if we take it in context, is about a new beginning, a fresh beginning, a clean slate for these people who sang this hymn, this song of ascents, this one of those 15 that are so named, songs of ascents, as the
Jews went from captivity in Babylon and traveled the 900 miles to Jerusalem, to where they had been released.
And they sang it as people who'd be given a fresh beginning, a new start, a new chance to come to God as God would have them come to him, with the errors of the past taken away, forgiven.
And so the slate is clean. To say it's a mulligan barely begins to grasp the significance of what they had, what you can have.
This clean slate, this new beginning in Christ Jesus. That's what this psalm is about.
That, I would argue, is really what most, if not all, of those 15 songs of ascents are about.
Remember, it is a people who were in captivity in Babylon, who went there because of their sins in Jerusalem, perhaps their father's sins and they were born in Babylon.
It is they who sang this psalm. It is they who were released by God having moved
Cyrus, the king of Persia, the conqueror of Babylon, who had been the conqueror of Judah. It is they who had this new beginning in all the psalms.
Psalm 127 is a psalm of new beginnings, of fresh starts. It's a psalm that speaks of that measure of grace that we all need sometimes from each other quite often, if not very often.
From the Lord God always. A fresh start, a new beginning. Do you ever feel like you just need to start again?
Just have another chance to get at it? To have the grand divine mulligan, that great do -over?
Well, that's what these people who sang this song had. And they were determined not to waste it.
Psalm 127 is about new beginnings. Now, as a pastor, as a preacher,
I do need to do a little bit of housekeeping, which too often means that the preacher found some great discovery, and he's now going to test you and see how long you can be patient with some intricate kind of explanation of my finding.
But I do want to say that this psalm is not about what it is often taken to be, which is about the beauty and the grace and the blessing of large families.
They are a blessing. That is absolutely true. But that's not what this psalm is about. You know,
Woydebockham, who's a very favorite of mine, he had a message on this psalm. He titled it, God's Gift of Children.
Steve Lawson, the family God blesses. And six years before the family God blesses, he had preached on Psalm 127, blueprint for the
Christian home. Ligon Duncan, a man I admire and respect greatly, he strains to prove that house in verse one, unless the
Lord builds the house, house means family. Well, each man, what they say about this, they say things about family and about sons and about children that are true and are biblical.
That's not what this psalm is about. I want you to hear this morning what
I'm going to tell you from the psalm about the fresh beginning that God gives you in Christ Jesus.
And if you know Christ Jesus, if your faith is in him, each time you go to him in repentance for a specific discreet sin, first John one nine, which we'll talk about a little bit later.
He cleanses you from all unrighteousness, he restores you a new beginning. If you know not
Christ Jesus, listen to me this morning, because this psalm is about the ultimate new beginning.
By faith in Christ Jesus and new beginning where your sins have been forgiven, that's what this psalm is about.
It's about a people who renewed they had been forgiven. They'd been raised from the dead, as it were.
There were people resolved to not repeat their forefather's sins. They were determined not to waste the opportunity that God had given them.
There were people who were sure that they would receive from God covenant blessings and that they would continue, they would have that continuity as God's people.
And all this because of the fresh start, the clean slate that God had given this people. Psalm 127 is for us today.
It teaches us that God is the God of second chances, a fresh start. He's the
Lord of new beginnings. So it starts out a song of a sense of Solomon.
Now, a little bit more housekeeping I have to do, because like Psalm 124, which I preached some weeks ago, which says of David.
Here I take of Solomon to mean it's concerning Solomon, it's Solomon -ish, it's something consistent with the nature and life of Solomon.
I line up with the 20th century Hebrew scholar A .F. Kilpatrick on that, and even the great 17th century
Puritan Matthew Henry, he thought that this psalm was written by David for Solomon.
And so of Solomon, meaning Solomon -ish, Solomon -like, concerning Solomon. Now, why is this important?
It's important because authorship and date of composition and purpose of a passage are key to right interpretation and application.
Psalm 127, as I said at the beginning, was written during the exile in Babylon. It was arranged and grouped within those 15 songs of ascent.
It was sung by them on their way back to Jerusalem 900 miles away. So here's our context.
A song concerning Solomon. I would argue that the author is anonymous. A song sung by exiles released from captivity in Babylon on their way back to Jerusalem with this fresh start ahead of them.
A psalm that tells us that God is the God of new beginnings, of fresh starts, of clean slates.
Begins with three reminders that dependence upon God is the path to blessing from God. Dependence on God is a necessary way we must live our lives.
If unless the Lord builds the house, you labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early and go late to your rest. Eating the bread of anxious soil for the
Lord gives to his beloved rest. These three vanities, if you will, these three nothingnesses that happen if we do our work, our labors, go to worship, which is what the house of the
Lord is about in verse one. Absent faith in God, absent any desire to look to his word and do things according to that word.
It would be vain. It would be just like a puff of smoke that goes away with the slightest breeze.
These three reminders are where we'll begin. And then we'll talk about the sons and the children being a heritage from the
Lord in those last three verses. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor build it in vain.
So the first question is what house is in mind? Was a song of Solomon is a
Solomon -ish psalm. So clearly it would seem that the house is not family as Ligon Duncan would have it.
It's not family that is the house, but God's house, the temple. That's what's in view.
The place God chose for his name to dwell forever. That's why it's of Solomon.
That's why Solomon -ish, because Solomon built that first temple, that magnificent temple, that wonder of the world temple, gold, exotic wood, wood everywhere you went.
The temple in Solomon linked together in scripture. That temple was sacked, it was plundered, it was desecrated by Babylon and the people taken into exile.
This was a terrible judgment brought by the Lord because of the sin of their forefathers, their misuse of the temple.
You can read Hezekiah's father, Ahaz. Hezekiah's father desecrated the temple and let it go into disrepair and other kings of Judah had done so prior to him.
Manasseh, one of the last kings, even worse, he brought in Asherahples. It was misused. It was desecrated by them and in a way that would be worse than the desecration that Babylon brought to it.
That's the temple that is in view. That's the house that's in view. To give all the history and the details of their sin, that's beyond our time.
If you read through 1 and 2 Chronicles, 1 and 2 Kings, you'll read quite a bit of that.
Suffice to say, as horrible as was Babylon's desecration of the temple, it wasn't much worse than what had been done there by God's people, by those who should have shown it the highest reverence, but instead filled it with idols and with images.
So the Lord took away the temple from them and took them away from the temple for 70 years in Babylon. Babylon then conquered by Persia and the
Persian king Cyrus moved by God, decreed their freedom, returned and commissioned them to build what? The temple of God.
To rebuild the temple of God. So it says, unless the Lord builds the house, what house do they have in mind?
The house that they're traveling 900 miles on foot to go and build. You can read about this in Haggai 1, this building of the temple.
You can read of Nehemiah and I commend Nehemiah and Ezra and Haggai 1 if you want the full context of Psalm 127.
Read those three books. That's the house that's in mind. And so here's this people renewed in the
Lord, refreshed in the Lord, given this new start, this clean slate. Isaiah chapter 40 begins with comfort.
Comfort my people says the Lord of hosts and he goes on to declare to them, say to this people that they have paid double for their sins.
They've been forgiven for their iniquity. Brethren, there's a trace of the gospel there that is just so loud and clarion.
There's a fresh start. There's a new beginning. That's a clean slate. They were renewed in the
Lord. The Lord had never left them. He restored them to his good favor. And what was the evidence of this?
What was the evidence that they were actually restored to God, that they had a fresh start, a new chance to do things right, to not repeat the sins of their father?
Cyrus's decree. Cyrus's decree prophesied by Isaiah centuries before Siah existed.
And when Cyrus said, go and build and here's the money and here's the escort. We've talked about this before in some length.
I won't go over it all again. When Cyrus, that pagan king, sent them back, moved by God to do that, they knew it was
God who had done it. Prophesied by Isaiah, the faithful waited for it.
Now Cyrus moved by the Lord, by the way that God guides streams of water.
That's Proverbs 21, one. He ordered it. This is the renewal we have when we're forgiven.
This is the restoration we have in God when he forgives our sins. It's life breathed back into dry bones.
It's 1 John 1, 9, where it speaks of how when we confess our sins, he cleanses us from all unrighteousness by forgiving us our sins.
What does the psalmist say when God forgives our sins? He removes most of it from you, but that really bad one, he hangs onto.
Doesn't say that at all. He removes your sins from you as far as east is from the west.
Brethren, it's a fresh start. You don't have to live under the weight of that old sin, that old guilt, because why?
Where did that sin go? What happened to that guilt? It was taken by Jesus Christ on the cross.
And because of that, the handwriting that was against you has been removed. It's been abolished. And Christ Jesus took upon himself the wrath of God for your sin.
And so he could say to you, comfort, comfort my one single saint. Your sins have been forgiven.
You've paid double. Well, not you, Christ. Christ Jesus paid double. This is renewal.
This is the freedom we have in Christ. And so when these people say they're going to go and build the house of the
Lord, they're a refreshed people. They're renewed people because of the forgiveness of God. They're also resolved people.
Resolved that this house will be built according to God's word. And it would be built by faith and by prayer.
You know, in Haggai's prophecy, he says, and this always strikes me, that the glory of this house, meaning this house that they're going to build, this house that is so much smaller and so much plainer than Solomon's that it caused the ones who knew
Solomon's temple to cry, and they cried so loud that you couldn't hear the rejoicing over the tears.
Do you remember that? Read Haggai, and you'll read of that when they laid the foundation.
And yet, what does Haggai promise? What does God through Haggai promise? That the glory of this house, the one that these people are going to build, is going to exceed the glory of the former house.
See, gold, acacia wood, silver everywhere, glittering lampstands.
These people had nothing. And yet, the house that they were going to build, Haggai would prophesy to them, is going to exceed the glory of the wonder of the world that Solomon built, why?
Because it's going to be built by faith. It's going to be built by people with no resources, no army, no king, only this faith in the king who moved a smaller king,
Cyrus, to release them. And they were resolved.
They were resolved not to repeat the errors of their forefathers. This house was going to be built by faith and prayer again.
Read Nehemiah and Ezra, and see how these leaders prayed about every step.
No concern that we didn't have enough gold to put gold on all the walls. No concern that we didn't have all the exotic woods.
It doesn't matter, because this place was being built by faith, and its glory exceeded the glory of the other.
They were resolved not to commit those errors again. Now, how could they get away from what their forefathers had done?
It's simple. It's really simple. It had been forgiven. It had been forgiven.
And when God forgives your sin, He forgives completely. When He says He holds nothing back,
East is from the West. So far as He removed our sins from us, it means exactly what it says.
And so you don't have to proceed under the weight of the old guilt and the weight of the fear and the suspicion that maybe
I'm gonna get smited from heaven because God's gonna remember this one or that one. No, we're free, and you don't have to repeat the errors of your fathers.
They were determined not to. That's what they meant when they said, unless the Lord builds the house, we're not gonna do it the way they did that caused us so much trouble.
We're gonna do it God's way by faith and by prayer. You know,
God is bigger than the culture where you were raised. God is bigger than the environment of the house where you were raised.
God is bigger than the trials and the traumas and the hurts that have formed you as you are today, and God bless you for what
God has made you today. One of the diverse, one of the 1 Corinthians 12, hands and feet and mouths and eyes and all that, you are what
God has ordained you to be, but you're not held back anymore under the auspices of those sins committed against you, of those pressures that were exerted upon you, an environment that was so negative and led you in wrong directions.
In Christ Jesus, you are free of it. As this people was resolved not to repeat the errors of their fathers, so you can be free of them too.
Jesus Christ took them upon himself. God pities us the way a father pities his children.
He knows our frame, he knows where our butt dust. He knows that when we are told we have a clean slate, a new beginning, what do we think?
We go, yes, that sounds great, but in the back of our minds, don't we so often think, but he's gotta remember this one.
He's gotta know about this thing that happened to me then. Which is why I react to things like this now.
No. Clean slate. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
What's the opposite side of that? When the Lord builds the house, your labors are not in vain, as Paul tells the church.
You know that your labors are not in vain when they're bathed in prayer and done in faith.
You ever felt that freedom that God gives you when you confess your sin, that you really know of his forgiveness? Where you really did feel his hand heavy upon you,
Psalm 32, holding back your joy until you acknowledge your sin and know the blessedness of forgiveness, that clean slate, that fresh beginning, the freedom of knowing that when
God forgives, it's complete forgiveness. Removing all our sin. That special brand of forgiveness that only the
Christian can know. You know what a gift that is? You believe in the
Lord Jesus Christ today, you have a gift that the world can't even imagine. That all those things that affected you so harshly and so negatively are taken away.
What does it say in 2 Corinthians 15, seven? Five, seven, excuse me. If anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is what?
He's a new creation. The old is gone, behold, the new has come.
There's your clean slate. I told this story about myself, this anecdote once before.
I think most of you weren't here for it. I was a little boy living in Portland, Oregon. Across the street from us were the
Avolios. And Mr. Avolio, oh man, he was just the greatest. He was Serbian by ethnicity.
Tall, big, strong guy, heavy mustache. He was a full bird colonel, a combat veteran in the
Air Force. He still flew F -4 Phantom jets when we knew him. It was Mr. Avolio.
And he was having everybody in the neighborhood, all the kids over. I was six, maybe close to seven at the time.
And he was making ice cream by hand. And so it was my chance to go run over there.
And I was on my way across the street and we called the street between us Rocky Road because it was gravel, it was a rocky road.
And I stopped in the middle of the road and for some reason I bent over and I picked up a rock. I said, what am I gonna do with this rock?
I'm gonna throw it and see if I can get over that telephone wire. Well, I didn't make it close. What I did go through was the window of his car.
And I was just so crushed. I just knew I couldn't go over to the house, much less go to the house and enjoy the handmade ice cream.
Long story short, when Mr. Avolio came out to see why I wasn't over there having ice cream, and there I am in the middle of the road crying, and he asked what's the matter.
I said, well, look at your window. You're gonna cry. No, he didn't. He forgave me. And I knew he forgave me because he brought me over and let me finish cranking the handle on the ice cream machine and enjoy it with everybody else.
And then my parents just paid for the window for him. I had a clean slate. I was sitting there as a little kid eating the ice cream.
So much more that we have in Christ Jesus. So what do we do when the
Lord Jesus forgives us? Gives you that clean slate, that new beginning, that freedom from the past, and all the traumas, and all the hurts, and all the sins that you committed, and all the sins that have been committed against you?
What do we do? As the Baptist says, you bear fruits in keeping with repentance, which usually means to get back on course.
You know, when Jonah went west instead of east, and he ended up in the belly of the great fish, the whale, and he got spewed back onto land after his repentance, and God said, well,
I'll send you to an easier place. Back to Nineveh. And brethren, when
God forgives you and gives you that clean slate, that clean slate is back towards his purposes.
It's back towards where he would have you to be. Unless the
Lord builds that house, you labor in vain, but if the Lord builds it, the house that Jesus Christ is building is a glorious house.
For you, us together, the temple of the living God. And he goes on to say, unless the
Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Now renewed, now resolved, they're gonna hear the watchman.
They're renewed in the Lord, and they're going to listen to the watchman now. You know, unless the
Lord watches, we have no security at all. He had watched over the city. You know, he had warned them again and again of the coming judgment.
Even when they were in exile, before the final disaster brought by Babylon, Ezekiel stood on the wall in the name of the
Lord, and he warned, and he warned, and he warned, as Jeremiah had warned, and warned, and warned, as Hosea had warned, and Isaiah had warned.
And here's the Lord watching over the city, and yet the watchman's awake in vain because the watchman's looking for soldiers coming, and here's
God, through his prophets, warning. You know, the thing about warnings is for them to be of any use, they have to be heeded.
They have to be listened to. I mean, imagine walking into your house with your whole family in tow, and the house is filled with this unpleasant odor that wasn't there before when you had left.
And you wonder aloud about whose tummy didn't like dinner, which the little kids find hilarious, right? But that smell, what's that smell?
Well, it's a warning. It's not, everybody knows where I'm going with this. It's a warning. There's a natural gas leak, and natural gas by itself has no odor, so they add odor to it so you'll be warned.
So you smell it, you remember the ads and PGD says, well, you smell that, get out of the house. You say, well, no, I wonder where it's coming from.
I can fix this thing. Let me not heed this warning, let me try and fix the problem. Anybody got a lighter?
We can be sometimes just as silly when we don't heed the warnings of Scripture.
When Jesus Christ says, unless you also repent, you likewise will all perish.
He said that to his disciples who've been walking with him and listening to him. He said that to the 12. The thing about a warning is you have to hear it.
You have to heed it. You have to believe that it's for your good, that the warning is telling you of a real danger, something imminent.
So again, this people is renewed. And it says, unless the
Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. What are they resolving themselves to do, this people with this clean slate, this fresh beginning?
To hear the watchmen, who were their prophets mainly in that day, it was Haggai and Zechariah.
But also Ezra the priest, Nehemiah the governor, all spoke prophetically. What are they saying here?
Just an aphorism, just a truism, a platitude? Oh yes, the Lord must watch. And if the
Lord doesn't watch, everything is going to be in vain and we don't need to stay awake, but no. They're saying, as implicitly here, we will hear the watchmen.
And who's the watchman who was ignored? The prophets. And they're resolved not to do that.
Once again, when you're renewed, when you're forgiven in Christ, when you know that clean slate, that grand mulligan that God gives you, that the weight of guilt has been taken away, the oppression of your sin has been removed by God's forgiveness, we get back on track.
And this time, and it's usually applicable to almost everything, this time I'm gonna hear what the watchman says.
And where does the watchman speak to us now? By this living and active and powerful word. Brought to us and stirring our spirits by the
Holy Spirit of God within you. That's the warning. That's the watchman. We need to hear him.
And how many times do we fall off the path and end up in trouble because we know what it says, we can read the warnings of scripture, we just kind of nod, say
I'll memorize that verse without actually heeding it. They're determined not to do so.
Excuse me, they're determined not to ignore it. And that's why they mean when they say unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
That's true, we do need the Lord, and unless the Lord is watching over us, we have no security at all.
Living in this country as we do, we feel so secure, we're so powerful militarily and economically, and unless the
Lord, we have nothing. They are determined to heed the warnings of scripture.
And it is vain for you to rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for he gives to his beloved sleep.
You know, again, we have that problem with the fathers who led to their exile and the great judgment of the
Lord. But what are they saying here again as this redeemed people, this forgiven people, this renewed people?
Is it vain that you rise up early and go late to rest? Well, he's not saying it's vain that you work hard because the
Bible everywhere commends hard work. We're to labor, we're to work hard. Do all things hardly as unto the
Lord. Eating the bread of anxious toil, for he gives to his beloved sleep.
It's not a call to quit, it's a call to do all things as unto the Lord. You know, you work your fingers to the bone, what do you get?
Bony fingers. That's not what they're saying here. Again, it's not a platitude. They're saying that as we labor unto the
Lord, it is not a vain thing, it's a productive thing. You know, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, there's this great turnaround, there's this great reversal of fortune.
You know, the curse in Genesis 3 turned work, turned labor into something different, turned it into toil, turned it into difficulty.
It made Adam work hard to get anything out of the ground that would feed himself and his family.
It turned it into toil. In Christ, what was toil is now work, is now labor, is now productive.
Because you can do all things hardly as unto the Lord. And you can thank God for my job, and sometimes our jobs are boring, and sometimes our jobs are high pressure, but normally, at the end of a week or a month or whenever it is, we get a paycheck.
And we can thank God that this job, this economic benefit
I get is from him, and I'll do it hardly as unto him. And so what was toil by Jesus Christ is redeemed into labor, good, hard, honorable labor.
Whether you be an engineer or a plumber, a carpenter or a scientist, working hard and doing things hardly as unto the
Lord and to his honor, redeems what was toil. They say it's vain that you rise up early and go late to rest.
It's vain that you just work yourself to death on these things. It's vain that you worry about it, that you eat the bread of anxious toil, that you're taking what's on your table and say,
I gotta eat this as if I'll never see another blessing of food on my table again. For he gives to his beloved sleep, confidence in God that he is going to take care of our needs.
Again, you can read in Haggai about how the people didn't understand it.
It is God who rains down every blessing upon them. It is God who gives rain for the crops and so forth.
That's in Haggai 1. I won't go into any more detail. These people determined to not go where their fathers had gone, counting on themselves, trusting their own efforts, trusting their own horses and chariots and swords and so forth.
They're saying, it is God who gives us the work. It is God who will bring good from it.
And in that confidence, knowing that I've done good work, hard work, taking care of myself, my family, as unto the
Lord, I sleep. Like Jesus, sleeping in the boat. You know, it's one of those enigmatic passages that Jesus is sleeping in the boat while the disciples, those experienced fishermen and seamen, were terrified.
Why is Jesus resting? Did he send them a lesson? I don't think so. I think because he had done a good day's work for the glory of his father, and therefore it was a sleep of confidence, the sleep of sureness.
So he gives his beloved sleep. That's Jesus satisfied in his day's work.
That's Jesus answering the Pharisees. My father's working until now, and I am working. And that's
Isaiah 53, 11, he will look and be satisfied. This is the kind of rest we should have.
I mean, for the good of our bodies, for our physiology, yes, but because of our spirits, sure and confident in God and his work in us and through us, even in our labors.
They're determined to not repeat the error of self -confidence, but put it all on God -confidence.
Anxious toil is sorrow, it's labor. It can mean physical pain from your labors. It can mean mental distress.
And it's a word that was used in Genesis 3, 16, a derivative of which means to describe curse -sent pain of childbirth.
So there's something that the gospel can also rob you of. Your anxieties, your worry, your nervousness.
Because this one who has this sleep, this rest from God, is a confident rest.
It doesn't even have to mean literally sleep. It's to go in a confident stride with Christ, knowing that he is with you, knowing that as you do things for his glory, he will give you that confident rest and sleep for the good of your spirit and your body.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb, a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them.
I already gave my opinion on how that flavors so many messages on Psalm 127 as being the main point.
I believe the point here to be that this people knows that they're going to receive from God covenant blessing.
And in their day, according to the covenant under which they lived, the Mosaic covenant, if you will, the law of God from Sinai, there's a promise that you can read about in Deuteronomy.
That as you obey my law, as you obey my covenant, as you do all things for my glory, that's my paraphrase, the
Lord says you will have many children. Your wives will not miscarry. And you can read about Hannah and Sarah and other women who were bereaved of children.
And so they knew they were missing covenant blessings from God. So in that day, how did you know you had covenant blessing from God?
How did you know you stood upright with God? By the blessings he promised.
And one of the most visible of those would be children. Let me just say, what
I believe this is saying here is not that we're all supposed to have great big families. Great big families are a blessing and small families are a blessing.
The large family as a covenant blessing is nowhere in the New Testament. I'm not saying anything against it.
But it's a sign of God's favor then. So what is this redeemed people saying?
What is this renewed people saying when they cite these last few verses?
It's about continuity. Children are a heritage. What's a heritage? A heritage is something that you stand on.
We have a heritage in the Puritans, in Reformed theology. We stand on their shoulders because we have a heritage in them.
It's something that you're given. Children are a heritage from the Lord. They give you that continuity with the past and give you assurance of the future.
I believe that's what they're saying here. As they build the house according to the
Lord and according to prayer, as they listen to the warnings of the watchmen in the Scripture and the prophets who will be sent them, as they take their sleep confidently doing all things unto the
Lord and not repeating the errors that got them in trouble in the first place, they are here being faithfully confident they will receive the covenant blessings that God promised.
What's the covenant blessing we have today? What sign has God given us? Ephesians 1 says that the deposit of the
Holy Spirit who sealed us until the day of redemption. He's given you his spirit.
He's given you his word. He's given you faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That's the covenant blessing today.
That's the continuity we have. Children mean that we will continue for whatever amount of time until Jesus Christ returns.
Yes, they're wonderful, but what they're saying here is we will receive from the
Lord what the Lord promised for covenant faithfulness, children being the primary sign of it for them then.
Today, children are a blessing, there's no doubt, but the sign of the covenant, that assurance you have of being in Christ is the deposit of the
Holy Spirit within you. So many of the you, Y -O -U, so many of the you's in the
New Testament are plural, having to do with the whole church, but that deposit of the Holy Spirit, that's in you if you believe in the
Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, he shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
The gate was the place of judgment. The gate was where Lot stood as a judgment, as a man of prestige, a man of some status.
A gate was where Boaz went and negotiated for the right to marry Ruth. The gate is a place where major transactions occurred.
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. It's a little bit enigmatic, but you get this picture of this man who's got the covenant blessing of children and here they're sons.
And I can just picture this, maybe it's just me, big, burly sons, strong sons who love their father and they're walking with him and he's kind of surrounded by them and he's gonna speak with his enemy in the gate, say, well, now before you speak lies against me and before you accuse me of anything that you're gonna regret, look at these sons behind me.
I'm not gonna be ashamed by what you say because you're gonna be looking at them while you're speaking to me, something like that.
Maybe that's just me, maybe that's just the way I picture it but ultimately, who do we think of here? We think of Jesus Christ.
We think of Jesus Christ who stood in the gate, as it were, when he came and spoke for his father, that all that the father commanded him to do, so he did, that all that he commanded him to speak, so he spoke.
He stood in the gate for the honor of his father. And who now stands in the gate?
Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you have faith in Jesus Christ as your savior?
Have you repented of your sins, been given faith to believe that he paid for your sins on the cross?
You know, when people go and speak in the gate, in quotes, against Jesus, who are the sons who keep him from being ashamed?
Who are the sons who go and defend him? It's you, it's me.
Here, sons is generic, sons and daughters. Who stands in the gate for Jesus?
It's us, as he stood in the gate for his father, as he stood for his father's honor, no matter who was deriding him, no matter who was blaspheming his name, it's
Jesus Christ who stood in the gate. And now that he sits at his father's right hand, what does he say?
Anyone who's ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of him before my father. We stand in the gate.
This psalm is a psalm of renewal. This psalm is a psalm of fresh starts.
It's a psalm of freedom that you don't have to live anymore under the weight of your sins that you committed against others or sins that others committed against you.
It's a psalm that speaks of true freedom in Christ. A people renewed, a people resolved not to repeat the errors, a people who are sure that they would receive covenant blessing from the
Lord. Amen? Heavenly Father, thank you for this day and for this time you've given us.
I pray, Father, that we would all know this freedom that we have in Jesus Christ, that by repentance for sins, through the faith that you and you alone would give, that we would know this renewal, that we would be new creatures in Christ, all of us.
And Father God, bless us now as we continue in worship, as we take the Lord's table. Lord, we would just thank you for all this.