Our Kids and Olive Trees

This is what Psalm 128:3 says about the God-fearing family, and this is what Wayne Mack points this out in his book, Your Family God's Way (Phillipsburg, NY: P & R Publishing, 1991).

He writes, "A plant has independent existence.  A branch is simply a part of the tree" (43).  Olive trees were among the most valuable crops of the Ancient Near East, important for a variety of purposes and applications.  Of course, our kids are a valuable "crop," but we see them as individuals, not mere extensions of ourselves.

Said another way, our goal is to raise them up to make wise and godly decisions on their own.  Mack writes it like this: "In your parenting, provide fences, not straitjackets.  Establish biblical limits and then train your children to obey them. ... As they mature, the fences can be expanded so that your children assume more and more responsibility for their own lives."

As your own very important "crop," you alone are responsible for your children's well-being.  Mack writes, "A key teaching of Psalm 128:3 is that your children are to be like olive plants around your table.  Before God, you, and not the state or the school or even the church, are responsible for providing for your children (Ps. 23:4; 1 Tim 5:8).  You are to nurture them for God" (45).

Of course, we are including here the spiritual needs of our children.  But there is also an image of togetherness here that comes through the grid of fearing God.  As such, even family cohesion can be an extension of Gospel-living.  "This picture of your children live olive plants around your table conveys the idea of fellowship and loyalty.  It suggests that building your family God's way involves developing family cohesiveness and togetherness."

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