Solomon: Good Advice from a Bad Dad
King Solomon penned Psalm 127. He was not the model father.
God dubbed made the flamboyant monarch the wisest man on earth. When you read Psalm 127, you’ll notice that it’s a paradox. Solomon blends his sagely gift and his stint as the ultimate dysfunctional father.
In a way, Solomon lived every man’s dream … he married seven hundred trophy wives and kept three hundred sexy concubines on the side. That much estrogen in one place must have driven him to distraction!
We know the super-king was, at best, savvy and street-smart. At his worst, Solomon was jaded and cynical. Regardless of your opinion of King Solomon, he had definitely been around the block, and he had learned a thing or two.
BUILD YOUR LIFE ON GOD
“Unless the Lord builds the house” Psalm 127a.” How would you like to have the Creator of the Universe as your architect? This house represents a life designed by God. Every room, every hallway is custom-made by the Creator.
“Unless the Lord builds” is a conditional clause in the Hebrew language. If God doesn’t lay the foundation, your home will collapse.
My father was a contractor. When he retired, he built a modest home in a new suburban development. Hotel-like mansions popped up around them shortly after they moved. Each showplace was replete with Porsches, country-club wives and 2.5 preppy children. Two years later, every elegant edifice had cracked foundations. You see, those wealthy buyers looked inside the homes but not underneath them.
My father, on the other hand, knew the soil in his neighborhood was sandy. Before he laid his home’s foundation, he poured concrete piers 150 feet beneath the surface.
Jaded Solomon said everything in life is vanity and vapor. Only the godly man or woman has deep roots.
Solomon’s Dad David wrote, “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season. And its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:3).
When you cease to control your life, to stop renovating your relationships according your own specifications, the life you miraculously receive will be more gorgeous and grandiose than you imagined.
Give God, the Master-Contractor, the blueprints. Your house will stand.
Psalm 127:1b says, “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
Watchmen were always stationed on the walls of Jerusalem to detect the stealthy approach of all enemies, but even vigilant watchmen couldn’t protect Israel. Only God could.
One of my daughters died of heart failure. One was shot on the playground in a drive-by shooting (she lived). One was raped when she was a foreign exchange student in high school.
God’s watchful protection over my family was my only hope of peace and security. Fretting, fearing and stewing over your little problems is just vanity or “mist”.
Rest and relinquish control of your family. Trust God’s guardianship.
FOCUS YOUR PRIORITIES
“It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for He give to His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2
Do you feel you have stepped on the hamster wheel of life and can’t get off? This verse describes the dilemma of the early bird and the night owl whose high-energy workaholism snuffs them out or burns them to a crisp in a few years.
Some of us are driven because we falsely believe that our identity lies in productivity. We race around at a frenetic pace because we don’t want to process pain or loss, so we mask it, causing empty lives and shallow relationships.
Remember Jesus’ promise about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air in Matthew 6:28? If God feeds and clothes them, how much more will He feed and clothe you!
I started graduate school the day after my baby daughter died in my arms from heart failure and suffocation. After she died, I busied myself to mask my broken heart. But God longed for me to stay still long enough to receive His comfort, to process my grief and to discover His direction for my life.
Let’s talk about the “bread of anxious toil.” Is Solomon depicting the poor guy who mans the night shift at Taco Bell? Working for food? If I have to work more than fifteen minutes to prepare a meal, I feel violated. But in biblical times, an average person’s day revolved around gathering and preparing food for the family. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 31:15 “She (the righteous woman) gets up while it is still dark and provides food for her family.” That’s still a good idea. It’s the only time Walmart is not packed with people.
Live to work; don’t work to live. That’s unnecessary, anxious toil.
REST AND LISTEN
“It is vain to rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for He gives to His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2
Have you ever thought of sleep as a gift? Symbolically, it means God the Father wants to teach you the rest you can experience by trusting in Him.
Hebrews 4:9 “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from His own work just as God did from His.” The verse that follows is surprising—“The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
When we rest and listen to God, His Word helps us to understand who we are in Him. When you are in the throes of a big decision—and the car salesman or stockbroker demands an answer, the wise person will often say, “I’ll sleep on it.”
Sleep gives us clarity and perspective. Sleep restores and rejuvenates us. Sleep is a gift. Neurologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a study on sleep deprivation where several graduate students were kept awake for two consecutive weeks. At the end of the insomnia fest, all of the subjects were showing schizophrenic symptoms. Sleep is essential for our well-being.
Stop squirming and start resting.
ENJOY YOUR FAMILY
“Sons are a heritage from the Lord: the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3. Solomon teaches that children are a gift from Him.
Sarah, Rachel and Hannah all prayed to have sons. Childless widows in the Bible were pictured as helpless and destitute. A man’s sons were his social security. They tilled the land and carried on the family name. They nursed Mom and Dad in their twilight years. The heritage of the family was entrusted to them. Heritage implies an identity, a culture, a set of values, and a lifestyle.
A close family is a precious treasure. Make memories. Teach values.
“Like arrows in the hands of warriors are the sons of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” Psalm 127:4 Solomon teaches in verse 4 that children are like a warrior’s arrows. Everyone used arrows in ancient times. Warriors drew their bows to stop aggressors. Hunters wielded bows and arrows to kill prey and feed their families. Arrows were carefully designed to hit the target. A hunter’s crooked arrow could cost him his life.
Today, a person who lives a lifestyle of uncompromising integrity is a “straight arrow.” Adult children who lead lives that are focused and effective bring joy to their parents. Parents who have carefully invested in the lives of their children will be happy and fulfilled when they “shoot their arrows” into society and watch them soar successfully.
LAUNCH THEM TO LEAD
They will not be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the gate. “Sitting at the town gate was an ancient custom first mentioned in Genesis. Judges sat at the city gate to solve domestic disputes, forge contracts and make treaties.
Lot, the lukewarm judge, tried cases at the city gate. Obviously, Lot didn’t stem the tide of decadence and immorality in his hometown. God had to fry the city to a crisp and turn Lot’s wife into a saltine because of the depravity of the Sodomites and “Gomorrahites!”
Conversely, Moses became a great judge. Moses’ father-in-law Jethro advised him to delegate some of his governance to trusted leaders of each tribe. Moses heeded Jethro and appointed judges to help lead the wandering Jews. Deft negotiators kept the peace by practicing diplomacy among warring tribes and nations.
If the judges were savvy arbitrators, if they were honest, then the people enjoyed peace. If the ambassadors were corrupt or capricious, the community’s safety and prosperity were compromised.
Launch your children to lead wisely and faithfully.
Heed Solomon’s words. Build your family on a firm foundation. Find and follow God’s plan. Rest and enjoy the precious time you have together. Lead and launch your children to navigate the seas of life successfully.