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From Your Front Porch Looking In: The Best Place to View Happiness

God wanted the Jews to sing Psalm 128 regularly, because He wanted to inscribe it on their hearts, as He wants it to be inscribed on our hearts today. We often search for the latest and greatest to bring us happiness rather than rejoicing in the blessings He has given us right now. See how today's philosophers are just now learning what God has told us all along in the Bible.

Todd WagnerJun 29, 2003

Messages In This Series (4)
We Have Been Blessed: How His Love Endures Forever
Todd WagnerJul 6, 2003
From Your Front Porch Looking In: The Best Place to View Happiness
Todd WagnerJun 29, 2003
The Power of Love: Found in the Provision of the King
Todd WagnerJun 22, 2003
How Sweet it is to be Loved by Him
Todd WagnerJun 15, 2003

It is great to celebrate, through songs, truths, and that's what we're doing in this little series, Songs of Summer. What we do is we're trying to reclaim some songs you might hear if you turn on 96.3, 99.5, or, last week, the Eagle. I don't know…whatever we're doing. You can hear different songs, and we're going to talk about how different ones of these songs either have truths that are completely inconsistent with what God has said, or in many ways are exactly what he's been trying to tell us all along.

That is the case where you will find that Lonestar just put together a song that describes what God has been trying to get his people to know for a long, long time. I have a friend who is an extremely gifted communicator. He taught on Psalm 128, and I made the mistake of listening to it. I'll tell you; I think it's one of the finest messages this gifted communicator has ever given. If I could lip-sync that message, I'd do it for you this morning. I really would, but he's not here, so I'm going to have to stumble through it, and you'll put up with that.

I want to tell you that this psalm that we're about to look at… If you have a Bible, turn to Psalm 128. This is a song that God would, three times a year, have the entire of nation of Israel that he, in his grace, had chosen to reveal himself to… He wanted them to sing this song on a regular basis, to be reminded of the truths that were in it.

There are a number of psalms, if you'll start back there along about Psalm 120 and make your way through the next 15 psalms, that called songs of ascent. Anytime you see in those little 15 psalms… If you have your Bible, you'll see that right there underneath it says, "Psalm 128, a song of ascent."

What's going on there is these are songs that all Jews who were making their way to the city of Jerusalem, where God called them to come three times a year for three different national celebrations… If you lived within 60 miles of Jerusalem, you were obligated as an adult male Jew to make your way there. On your way, you would sing these 15 different songs, and these songs were to remind you of basic truths God would want you to hold to in order to allow that nation to be what God intended it to be all along.

They were songs they would sing as they would ascend from the valleys to the mountainous city that was Jerusalem. For instance, Psalm 121, one that we looked at while we were in Colorado, says, "I look to the mountains; from where does my help come from you? My help comes from you, maker of heaven, Creator of the earth." What the psalmist was doing right there was saying, "As I walk to Jerusalem, and I look at all the mountains that are around me, I'm not going to look where people who don't know you, God, are going to look. I'm going to look to you."

All through the Old Testament, if you read it, you'll find references to high places, or sometimes Asherah poles. You go, "What in the world are these high places or Asherah poles that the people of Israel never really got rid of?" The belief in that day was that the gods lived in the high places. They lived in the mountainous regions. If you think back to your elementary school education and Greek mythology, the gods lived…where? On Mount Olympus.

This idea continued through many different cultures of people. The idea was that the gods lived up in the high places while we lived and did business down in the lower places and the valleys. When you wanted to worship the gods, you approached them in their dwelling places. God was making it clear, "You don't want to go worship where false hope is. You don't want to go worship at totem poles and get involved with these things they would do up there."

Asherah was the name for the earth goddess. What would happen is they would go up there, and they practice what's called sympathetic magic, or sometimes child sacrifice. Why? They believed that Baal, the lord, the god of the heavens, would copulate, and his semen would come down and would fertilize Asherah, who is the goddess of the earth. What would happen is she would then become impregnated, if you will, and would give birth to her offspring, which would be the crops of the land. They would then harvest her children and eat them.

They felt like if Baal and Asherah were going to sacrifice their children for their continued wellbeing, people who did not know the creator God and who believed in these myths would sacrifice their children. They would call this god Moloch or Baal, or different names you see throughout the Old Testament, and this was an abomination to God.

As they're walking to Jerusalem to worship the God who has revealed himself as not just living in the mountains but creating the mountains where the false gods of this world supposedly lived, he said, "Don't look there, to these gods of man's making. You look to me, the maker of the mountains, the maker of heaven and earth, the Lord of all creation. That is where your help is going to come from as an enlightened people.

If you want to dwell in this land and experience the blessing that comes from walking with me as a covenant people, then you don't go ahead and pawn yourself out in some sort of adulterous worship to gods that are no gods at all. You serve me. Do you want to know what makes your land flow with milk and honey? It isn't this mythological conception between the god of sky and god of earth. It is I who brings forth rain in season and crops in due time. Worship me."

This was one of the songs they would sing as they made their way up to Jerusalem. God would rehearse and teach them to think certain ways, correcting their thinking, so when they got there to celebrate, they could celebrate the blessing that comes with living in relationship with this God, not just by profession but by practice.

Psalm 128… I will tell you that as elders, we get together, and we pray, and we think a lot about what God is doing in our midst. We are convinced that the single greatest need in our body right now is addressed in this psalm. When I chose the four psalms we were going to do this year for Songs of Summer – Volume 2, I had no idea the genius of selecting this psalm, especially in light of the fact as we are wrestling with what we need to do to raise the value of godliness, specifically in the headship, which is to say, in the humble, servant, godly leadership of the male in the home.

We feel like we have a crisis in our community of faith. The reason the blessing is not flowing in this city as it should is because we, as men, are not walking as we should, single and married alike, and specifically married. I want you to catch this. This is a psalm where God is going to lay out, "This is what makes your life a blessed life."

In fact, if you wanted to talk about what happiness is borne from… If there was a song in the Bible, a section of Scripture that talked about where, circumstantially, your life will be better than it could ever possibly be, these are the six verse to go to and know. The reason there is not circumstantial blessing (see: awful happenings) that we enjoy, that are running through this body, and the reason we have so many women who are discouraged, children who are wayward, and men who are frustrated is because we don't sing this song enough.

We don't believe that the most blessed view God could give us is our front porch, looking in. We are out there working and chasing the gods of the high places that this world holds up, through material success and gain, professional advancement, or sometimes some other expression of futile joy, futile fulfillment.

This is a psalm that speaks of blessedness. Let me explain something to you. I often, up here, talk about the virtues of joy over happiness. I'm going to stretch your view a little bit more this morning and let you know, what God is excited about is not just our joy in any and all circumstances. He wants us to have that; it is a fruit of the Spirit with him. But listen to this this morning. God wants you to have happenings. He wants you to have a state of blessedness which can be related directly to your circumstances and situation.

This is not health, wealth, and prosperity. You're going to find it is minimalistic in what God says will bring you this blessed state. When you see the word blessing in Scripture, you need to know there are a couple of different ways you can go with it. One of them, and often it says it this way in the New Testament, like, "Blessed be the God of all creation." That word is a compound of two Greek words; bear with me. One is e-u; it's pronounced you. The other one is l-o-g-o-s; it's pronounced logos. That means the Word.

That word blessing is often eulogia or eulogeō. When you think about eulogia, that shows up in our English language, doesn't it? Yes. I did a funeral this week of a woman who was 87 years old, and her grandson stood up and eulogized this woman. He blessed her. He stood up and spoke well of her. That is a literal translation of that.

He said, "Blessed am I because of the grandmother I had." Her son-in-law said, "This was the godliest, most content woman I have ever seen. I am lucky to have had a mother-in-law like her." Her daughter said, "I am blessed to have had such a mother." They sang her praises, and they praised her God. They spoke well of her and spoke well of God that he would give such a woman as this. That is the blessedness that we often think of when we talk about the blessing we give at funerals.

There's a different blessing. It's one that shows up in this psalm and one, ironically enough, that Jesus shared the very first time he spoke when he showed up. He didn't just say, "Well spoken of will be the man…" He said, "Circumstantially will be the man, at a better place, in a happier state of being will be the man who is pour in spirit, who mourns over his sin, who is humble and meek, who hungers and thirsts after righteousness, who is a peacemaker."

What Jesus said is, "Do you want to know the guy who is happy?" That's why some translations of your Bible in Matthew 5, they have it say, "Happy is the man who believes he is in debt to God. Happy is the man who weeps over his state of sin. Happy is the man who humbles himself before God. Happy is the man who seeks to have God fill him up with righteousness and hungers after that."

What Christ is saying is, "This guy is going to be in a better place," because Christ had made this journey of the male Jew, time and time again during his life, to Jerusalem, and he sang Psalm 128. A student of the Scriptures, not to mention an author of all of the Book, he knew where blessedness (see also: happiness) came from. This is the psalm of happiness, and it comes from your front porch, looking in.

This is a psalm that you'll find the word happy translated in this translation just once. You will find the word prosperity once. You will find the word peace once. But you will find the idea of blessedness, which is to say happy in your circumstance, three times. The psalm of blessedness, the psalm of a state that you were created to live in…

I went and pulled off all different types of things on the web this week about what our world offers us in view of happiness. I have here, Dateline NBC did a big story not long ago, and they asked themselves, "Can money buy happiness?" They did a big, long report on there, and they said, "Kind of, and kind of not." They said, "We found out that if you make a windfall of about $1.5 million… Anything less than that doesn't have any enduring effect on people's lives."

But if you come across $1.5 million, they do see, statistically, a greater sense of expressed contentment and satisfaction with life from this amount forward. And yet, they said it wasn't foolproof. They also said below a certain level of money, there was a deep sense of satisfaction, though it wasn't foolproof, but they said most folks, all the way through, needed something else. Money can give you some sense of a better sense of state and life, but not foolproof ways.

You have psychologists, it says, who now know what makes people happy. They go through, and they list different attributes. About eight years ago, John Stossel, on 20/20, did a report: "What makes us happy?" They came up with a happiness quotient, and they came up with a formula for happiness. I'm going to tell you that what Stossel found, what Psychology Today is reporting, and what USA Today, NBC, and ABC are all saying, you can find some consistent characteristics with.

Guess what you find? You find those ideas expressed by philosophers all across the age, and guess where else you find those ideas expressed? Psalm 128. You'll find that what often happens when we go to the end of the earth to search out a matter, which is the glory of kings, Proverbs tells us, that often when we get done with all of our searching and striving, we only end up where the Bible would have had us starting in the first place.

This is true, by the way, of what's going on in the area of science. For the last 150 years, we have "science" telling us that this earth was the result of some cosmic series of events, that over a long period of time, infinite chance produced these amazing results which brought about incredible order, which led to life and more complex life, until we eventually evolved to where we are today. That was the view that largely held Christians at bay and people of the Book silent in the face of science, only to find, in the last 10-20 years, that science is now speaking up.

If science is the study of that which is evidenced in repeatable studies and events, science is not the enemy of God. It is a tool God uses to show us things. We find now that scientists are finally scaling up mountains of their study and peeking over, only to find, again, a theologian looking them in the eye who has been here for centuries. Now scientists are saying, "There is no scientific evidence, or even intelligent rationale, that can suggest we are here as a result of a cosmic series of events related only to chance and time."

They say it's impossible based on their studies and the infinite, exponential series of events that would have had to happen to produce the simplest of things that would lead them to this supposed evolution. They are saying that they look back now and science, in every observable way, shows that this universe had a beginning.

Now they are debating about how that beginning got us to where we are today. They are beginning to catch up where this Book begins. "In the beginning, God made." They're surrendering to chapter 1, verse 1. They haven't yet swallowed the rest of Genesis, but mark my word, they'll get there. They'll get there. What I'm going to show you today is that psychologists and philosophers are getting where God has been all along.

Listen to some of these quotes. "The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise knows, though, what grows under his feet." Do you know what they're saying? Happiness is not out there. Happiness is my front porch, looking in. It's right here where I am. "Happiness," another philosopher wrote, "is not a destination; it's a method of life." "Happiness," another philosopher wrote, "isn't something you experience; it's something you remember." Listen to these quotes. "Happiness is the harvest of a quiet eye."

Let me just tell you, what these philosophers and these great researchers have all come up with is what our Bible has been saying all along. Let me synthesize, if you will, the truth of all of these studies. They have found that, in fact, happiness can typically be associated with three things. Are you ready? Watch this.

First, it can be related to the presence of faith. In other words, a belief in God, an understanding of dignity, the nobility we have by creation, a sense of right and wrong, an awareness that forgiveness is possible, that justice is immanent. We control our lives in a way that produces the things which bring greater life into our lives. They have found atheists, people not of faith, not just Christian faith but of no faith, are consistently less happy than those who have some belief that there is a cause, a meaning, and a purpose in life greater than themselves.

Second, control… This is not what you think. Not control freaks are happier, but the idea that you have some sense of control on your life, some ability to make your life better. A chance to change, a sense of freedom to work and improve your situation… This is what our forefathers knew when they said, "There are certain inalienable rights that we must preserve in this country."

That is the right to life, which we have violated with certain decisions from our courts; liberty, which is constantly being encroached upon us with the terror that surrounds us; and the pursuit of happiness. We still hold that one up, and I'm going to tell you, if you turn your TV on today, or you look at a billboard when you drive home, you're going to find all kinds of folks telling you how to get this thing which you were created to live in, which is a state of blessedness.

You are pursuing happiness, and you live in a country which will make you happier than most. Why? Because we live in a country that believes it's your inalienable right to pursue happiness. They have found that people who don't have this freedom in their lives, folks who grow up in communist regime or a dictatorial society, aren't as happy because they don't have that same freedom. They don't have that same opportunity to control their lives because they are oppressed by rule.

They also said that folks who are in debt are not as happy as individuals who don't have debt. Why? Because they don't have control. The Scriptures have said, "A borrower is the lender's slave." You don't have the freedom to do what you want to do because you're a slave to your debt, to your creditors. You cannot choose to live the way you want to live because you are enslaved by debt. Scripture has been saying that all along.

It says that people who are a victim of substances and chemical abuse are not as happy as though who are free from those addictions and those actions which lead to a state of bondage where they destroy their families. They compromise any moral they might have had in order to get what they think will bring them a moment of pleasure. Folks who are not slaves to chemical dependencies are happier than those who are not because folks who are not slaves to some compulsive behavior have a greater sense of control in their lives.

Third, this idea of simplicity… Simply this: a good meal, a good family, and good friends are what make people consistently happy. It is not folks who are covetous or materialistic. Those people are not as happy. It didn't say folks with a lot of things were always unhappy; it just said when they saw folks who were continually pursuing the next kill, the next find, the next deal, the next job, the next acreage, the better home, the better school, the prettier spouse, they were not as happy as those who understood that happiness was right there under their feet.

Simplicity and a lack of chasing after thing after thing and getting involved in busyness and being a slave to the debt that comes with that chasing is the key to happiness. It's like the godly man who lived in the country. He saw some big ol' city boy who had lost of money move in next to him. He built this exquisite ranch out there in the countryside and decked it out with all these great things, all these great toys, four wheelers, pools, and horses, and all of the things that would bring a man joy. He looked over at that guy, and he moved in that one day.

His godly neighbor walked over to him, and he said, "Hey, buddy. Welcome. I've noticed you built yourself quite a spread right here. If you ever need anything, you come and ask me, and I'll tell you how you can get along without it." What he was saying was, "Look, man. You're out here and you're building yourself a palace that you think is going to make you happy.

I hope you are, but statistics show, according to John Stossel, NBC, Psychology Today, USA Today, health.com, you're not going to be if that's what you think is going to make you happy. If you ever to get to the end of all of these things and you're still not happy, come talk to me, and I'll tell you the secret to happiness." He should have read him Psalm 128. Have I made a case that this is important? I hope so.

Let's look at this psalm together. Here we go. Watch this. This song of happiness or blessedness says, "How blessed [happy] is everyone who fears the LORD…" This could have been the lead to John Stossel's report. He could have said, "Happy is the man who is a man of faith," just like he reported. "How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD…"

What does it mean to fear the Lord? It means three things. First of all, it's a reverence or respect for the person of God, not as we created him but for who he is. You have a sense that God is not some creature of our own making that we reduce to a level we can swallow and live with, but "…who fears the LORD…"

Notice it's capitalized because it's a reference to the proper name of God as he's revealed himself. It's Yahweh, which you'll never see in the Scriptures. Always capitalized, not a capital L, but capital L-O-R-D. It means Yahweh, the great I Am, the one who is the uncaused cause, who brought this earth into beginning, who made you, your marriage, your family, and your circumstance.

If you fear him, as he has revealed himself… How has he revealed himself? As sovereign, as holy, as just, as one who will give you forgiveness and provide, in his grace, a way for you to be reconciled and restored to him, a God who is love… If you fear him for who he is, that is the first key to happiness.

Second, the idea of fear means that you fear God's ways, his plans. You know that if you step outside of what God has revealed for you, there's going to be consequence to that. Specifically, you know through your choices, you see how destructive you can be in your foolishness and your rebellion.

I fear God because I have tasted enough of my waywardness and selfishness in little bursts of indulgence, and, if you will, a relaxing excretion of flesh, whether it be a burst of anger or self-service or lust, or whatever it might be, to see the destruction I can bring in my life and others' lives. I've learned to fear God because I've seen the consequences of that.

I see it not just in my life, but part of what I do is I see folks all the time who are at a place of unhappiness because they have not feared God's plan. They have not trusted in the Lord with all of their hearts or have leaned on his understanding, but in all of their ways, they have acknowledged themselves, and they have found themselves wanting. They don't fear his plans, and he says, "Happy is the man, or blessed is the one, who fears God's Word."

Third, this idea of fear is you don't just fear his person, his revelation of himself, his rules. A blessed man fears his recompense, or his judgment. To fear God is to fear his revelation of himself, his rules for life, and to fear that and walk according to them, and to understand that this God calls us into account. In other words, there is a consequence to what we choose.

Some scholars will tell you, if you look at your concordance, that some 14 different times this phrase shows up, this idea that we will each give an account to God for our works. "Each man," it says, "shall give account of himself unto God." Blessed men are people who fear God and know they must give a recompense for their works, there are rules they must live by, and a revelation of who he is that they must surrender to. That is the blessed man. It is a key to happiness to get that right.

Notice this. This is not just a guy who has knowledge and intellectual assent. He hasn't just memorized a series of doctrinal statements and creeds. He doesn't just sing songs about the blessedness of God in rote words. He has experienced what it means to apply them. Look what it says in verse 1.

"How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD…" I wish you could write in big, bold letters, after the capital, bold lettered LORD, write down and because that is what is implied there. He doesn't just know God, know God's Word and believe its true, and believe God will hold him account to his response to who God is and what he said, but he responds to it.

Blessed men fear God, and then…look what it says…they walk according to his ways." It has legs, not some just professed surrender in word or tongue, but in deed and truth. This is a godly man. This is what God said to Abraham. "Abraham, walk before me, and I will establish my covenant before you." This is what the Scriptures said. "If you don't do this, if you don't walk according to me, you're not going to be blessed." It says it is a negative way.

The very first song God ever recorded in Scripture, or at least put in the Canon for us, is this: "How blessed is the man who does not walk according to the counsel of the wicked, who does not stand in the path of sinners, or does not seat in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on that law, he meditates day and night." Do you want to know blessing and where it comes from? It comes from a man who knows God and walks in his ways. It says, "This is the man who will be happy. This is the man whose life is a delight."

Why? Not because of any material thing. You'll find that that's not there, but because you have a godly man who will take to himself a woman of like spirit, who loves Christ, and humbles herself under the same Word and becomes a godly wife to this godly man, who will produce a godly family.

It's like God wants us to know, "Every time, when you walk into that city, do you want to know where your joy is going to come from? It's going to come from walking according to my Word." He screams that all throughout his Book, and he's screaming it to Watermark today. He's screaming it to you today.

There are certain individuals in this room who have lives that are marked by unhappiness and a lack of blessedness because you have not figured out Psalm 128, verse 1. I'm going to say it as clearly as I can today. This Book is unashamed in telling you, if you don't know God as he has revealed himself, and know his Word, and know that you will be dealt with according to your response to those two things, and that you don't revel in obedience in that, you are fighting a futile battle. You are arguing with gravity, and there is no way to escape it.

Some of you are saying, "That's a joke, Todd. My life is not at all living in obedience to who God is. I don't live according to his Word, and I don't really care about judgment. I mock judgment, and I mock you because you're restricting yourself in your fear of surrender to it." I would tell you that you are like a man who has jumped off a 100-story building.

While you're on that ninetieth floor coming down, you might look at me and go, "You're missing out. This is the biggest rush I've ever had. I'm having a ball." You're at the eighty-fifth floor, and you go, "It's even better." By the seventieth floor, "I feel like I can fly." I'm going to tell you, I'm going to see you around 20 and around 10, and I'm going to say, "Sooner or later, friend, the reality of your experience will catch up with you. You are arguing against something that cannot be argued with. The reality of what you're doing will catch you."

It's the Indians, Asian people, Gandhi Indians, who have said it this way: "He who rides a tiger must prepare to dismount." I'd offer to you this. You might be on that little striped being having a big time, while I'm avoiding that thing in fear and respect. You're going, "You sissy! Get over here and know where life is. I am on Tigger, and we're having a ball bouncing around the Hundred Acre Wood." I'm going to say, "That ain't no Tigger, and this isn't the Hundred Acre Wood, and you will dismount. You will deal with that tiger you think you have by the tail."

This man, it says, will be happy, and it will continually be well with him, as opposed to those of you who are right now having a great rush as you argue with gravity or argue with that beast of the jungle that you think you have wrapped tightly between your thighs. Look what it says. This man's life is a delight not because of anything material but specifically because of a relationship he has with one.

"Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house." Let me explain this idea of fruitfulness to you. I think there are four ideas with fruitfulness in the Scripture. I'll give them to you quickly. First, a fruitful person is somebody, like it says in John 15:5, "I am the Vine," meaning God speaking, Jesus speaking, "and you are the branches." "I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I abide in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can't bear any fruit. You can do nothing," he says. Fruitfulness is attributed to godliness.

It's what you find in Galatians 5:22-23, the concept that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, and on we go, all the way down through self-control. Nine of them worth knowing and worth bearing forth. It says your wife, if you're this kind of man in verses 1 and 2, will be a godly woman because she will follow according to your steps as the head of the home. She'll see your humility and the blessedness of walking with this God who, in reverence, you fear, you serve, and order your life according to his Word. Your wife will follow your lead, and she will be fruitful as you are fruitful.

Second, it is the idea of festivity or celebration. It is the idea of a vineyard and the harvest. It's a party; it's a good thing, festiveness and joy. It says that your wife will be fruitful. In other words, she will not be cantankerous or contentious. She will be a woman who is glad that she is in relationship with you.

She would say, "I am happy. The second greatest decision I made in my entire life is to marry this man. Apart from following the God of this man, I have now chosen to walk with him, and I am in a great, happy place." When you live with a happy wife, it's a good thing. God says in Psalm 127 that the fruit of the womb is a reward. Part of what's implied right here is that God says, "I will bring you joy with little ones into your home." This is the principle; this is the idea.

I know that there are godly men like Scott Fowler in this body, and he is blessed because he fears the Lord, and he walks according to his ways. Scott and Julie, who's a godly woman who also serves this God, have yet to have the fruit of her womb and the fruitfulness there of come forth. You say, "Why is that?" Sometimes it's because God would say we live in a sinful world where everything is not a guarantee.

Scott and Julie would live not in the happiness that is biological children that at this point have not come forth from their womb, but they live in a state of joy despite their happy circumstance. God, though, is making a promise to Israel in this day and time, that, "I will unlock the wombs of your wives." There will not be, if you will, a recurring plague of barrenness in this people.

We have a ministry, by the way, to folks who are confused by the theology that the reason they don't have children is because of some curse upon them. The ministry is called Shiloh; it's led by that same Scott and Julie Fowler, a place of rest where you can find hope, even if you don't bring forth fruit from your womb. That's the third idea here.

Here's the fourth. Are you ready? Guess where you can find it? You can find it in Song of Solomon. Guess what kind of fruitfulness I'm about to talk about? Song of Solomon 7:6-9… Just so you don't think I'm some lust-crazed pastor trying to make this work, read this with me. "How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love, with all your charms!"

I'm going to tell you that when it says that your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house, some of you men out there are going, "I don't believe what you're about to say. Don't tell me that if I'm a certain kind of man, I'll have all the sex I want." I'm about to tell you something. You're this kind of man, and her sexual charms will live in your home.

It says, "Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, 'I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks.' Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath like apples…" And he goes on, and what he is saying is that you will delight in your wife's sexual charms. When? I'll tell you.

A number of years ago, there was a secular brother who wrote a book that a friend of mine has read a few times and needs to read again. That book is called Sex Begins in the Kitchen. Like me, you probably think, "Man, that's a great place for sex to start. I don't care if it starts in the bathroom or the garage or the yard or the treehouse. Let's just let it start."

The concept here was when it says that sex begins in the kitchen, it doesn't mean that sometimes be so impulsive that instead of flipping pancakes, you take the apron off. The concept here is that when you start washing those dishes, you start emptying that dishwasher, when you start making that bed, when you start changing those diapers, when you start helping that little woman clean the table…

When you love her and serve her and don't see her as some slave of yours to keep a clean house and then to pleasure you at night, but you see her as a partner that is to be a steward of your life, where you pour yourself out on her, cherish her, and bless her by your acts of service, that when it comes time for you to be serviced at night, you won't have to beg her. She'll meet you at the door. She'll say, "I delight in sharing my life with you, who has sacrificed his life for me." Can I hear an "Amen" from the women? Yeah, I'm telling you.

You don't need to read this book. It's right here. Do you want to be a man who gets all the sex you want in marriage? Psalm 128 tells you how to do it. Some of you guys go, "My wife is such a prude. My wife won't share herself with me." I'm going to say, "You know why? Because she doesn't see you sharing yourself with her. It's all about you. When you get home, you want the food there and the kids taken care of so you can watch a little SportsCenter, and then you can get it on." That is an unbiblical view of what the purpose and role of a woman is.

It says that her sexual charms toward you are going to be a result of your nourishing, caring, loving, kindly, gently stewarding your life toward her. Women that have men treat them like that, they can't wait to be intimate with them. Which one of these four is in view in Psalm 128? I like that last one, but probably, I think all four of them are in view there. All four of them…

If you don't have a wife who is godly, you don't have a wife who is a blessing and full of joy and brings happiness to your home and not contentiousness, you don't have a wife who is ready to meet you with intimacy, I'm going to tell you that men of verses 1 and 2 produce women of verse 3.

There are exceptions to this. There are Hoseas who are out there who are married to some Gomers. No matter what you do, she's going to whore herself out and be cold toward you and bitter toward you. I am sure that happens, but in all my ministerial experience, I have not met very many Gomers. I'm talking one in a thousand, maybe.

When you get a man who is leading the way God wants a man to lead, taking his rightful place of servant headship, you have women who gladly follow along in them, who take his spiritual leadership and seek after that God. They may not do it right away, but they're going to watch you. If you mark yourself with humility and the fruit of the Spirit toward her, she's going to beg you to explain to her the hope, the transformation, and the source of it.

A number of years ago, Promise Keepers, when they would have these events that were for men only, women would show up and protest these events saying, "Here's another male event that holds women out." It was pre-Hootie Johnson. Martha Burk wanted in somewhere else. She wanted in PK, and here's another symbol of man suppressing women.

There were other protesters who met those women head-on and counter-protested right across from them and said, "You stay out of there, you knuckleheads. I don't know much about what's going on in there, but I'll tell you this. My man, who I couldn't trust and it was some huge leap of faith to submit myself to him, he went to one of these conferences and something got into him, and he took his rightful place in our home.

All of a sudden, things have changed, and this man now is kind toward me, loving toward me, and available to me and the kids. It's not so self-destructive to submit to him. I glory in what God is doing inside those conferences." You had women rising up and calling this man blessed because he walks with the God who is the source and root of all that blessing. Men of verses 1 and 2 produce women of verse 3.

George Strait understood this. I've seen a lot of guys who talk about how certain women, once they marry them… Have you ever seen a woman who does this? She marries a man, and her life does anything but get more lovely. There's a hardness that comes over them. They don't flourish anymore. There's a look of desperation, fear, bitterness, and anger. Why is that? Because you see a man who she is married to who is out of sync with God. They don't fear God, they don't walk in his ways, and so they don't get fruitful wives. That's why.

But you get a woman who is loved the way she ought to be loved? I had a guy tell me a long time ago, "Todd, I won't have to ask you anymore what your walk with Christ is like. I'll look right at your wife, I'll look at Alex Wagner, and if see her and the fruitfulness and joy on her life, I'll know that you're doing what you need to be doing."

George Strait said it this way. "Oh, how you sparkle. Oh, how you shine. That flush on your cheeks is more than the wine. He must do something that I didn't do. Whatever he's doing, it sure looks good on you, baby." That's what he says. "You look so good in love." What he means there is, "You look so good when a man loves you the way you should have been loved."

"He must have stolen," he continues, "some stars from the sky and gave them to you to wear in your eyes. I had my chances, but I set you free." Then he says, "And now I wonder why I couldn't see that you would have been this woman who I wanted you to be had I just loved you the way this guy apparently is loving you." The guy in the song says, "Darling, I've wasted a lot of years not seeing the real you." He laments.

Can I tell you boys something? If your wife isn't as gorgeous as when you married her, look no further than your mirror. If there are no stars in her eyes, if there is no flush on her cheeks, look no further than your mirror. This psalm guarantees it, and George sings about it. If you have a wife who is good-looking, and by that I mean full with joy and contentment…

Some of you guys are suffering because you married a woman not who would walk with you in fear of God but had that charm that was deceitful and that beauty that was vain, and it sucked you in. Now she doesn't want anything to do with you as a husband. She doesn't care if you want to worship her. You can't get that look of love in her eyes because she's still trying to find it somewhere else.

But you marry a godly woman, and you love her the way you should, and I'm going to tell you something. They get prettier and prettier. Y'all saw my pregnant wife walk in here. She's sitting right over there. That woman looks good. She looks good, and I will tell you that, by grace, when I love her well, every one of those four areas is bearing fruit in my life, and it is good.

What does it say? It doesn't stop right there. It says a blessed man doesn't have just a blessed home life. What the psalmist is trying to say is, "Do you want to know where blessedness starts in a nation? It starts with a godly man. It starts with a godly husband." That's where it starts, and you can't get it if you try and circumvent that thing. If you get this thing out of whack, you're going to miss it.

God says, "You men, walk with me. You fear who I am, and you walk in my ways." I'm telling you; we have to stop trying to encourage men and come around you and give you all of these strategies to get your life put back together, until you do verses 1 and 2. You will get a wife of verse 3, and then verse 3b, your kids will follow in suit. This is what it says: "…your children [will be] like olive plants around your table."

What does that mean? An olive plant is a reference to probably the most valued resource in the nation of Israel. An olive plant grows to be an olive tree, and it will produce fruit, which is a source of industry and profit. It will give you shade and comfort. It says that the olive oil was used often in temple service. It was even a means that eventually further holiness would come from it. It was the greatest natural resource in all of Israel.

That reference that they will be like olive plants around your table is a simple statement that's this. An olive plant is to grow to be an olive tree, and if you nourish it, you tend to it, and you give it life, it will be a better thing. If you don't do your job as a godly man, I will tell you, you'll get that little shoot bent in the wrong direction and it will go any way but toward blessing. It will grow up to be twice the son of hell that you have been.

I see certain folks, and I see them in their marriage, and I see the godlessness that is there. I see them searching after meaning in high places, and I go, "Lord, have mercy on our country if they have kids." I see those kids go all sorts of different directions. I see those kids grow up with hopelessness and despair. I don't see them producing shade; I see them bringing destruction to our world.

I have a friend who owns a camp. I'm praying with him through the camp this summer. He just sent out a little deal, and he said, "We have never seen so many kids coming to our camp on anti-depressants and medication." What he's saying is, "We have a nursery full of sick little olive plants here." I'll tell you that is because we have a lack of men who are sending their kids to camp who are Psalm 128, verses 1 and 2 men.

You have all kinds of sickness in those kids. Suicide is at an all time high. It's the second leading cause of death. It is more of a cause of death in our kids than cancer, AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and heart problems combined, because we have daddies who aren't doing what they need to be doing as God has been telling us for thousands of years.

Let me tell just tell you; this is no secret to the world that watches. There are some guys who were sociologists… In fact, let me show you this. These are the effects of a disobedient child. This is the very opposite of what it says in Psalm 128. If you have a child who doesn't know God, who doesn't follow in your steps… Kids may fail to do what you say, but they will not fail to do what you do. If you have a kid who is not walking with God, a woman who is hard-hearted toward the things of God, I'm going to tell you, it starts with the leadership, almost every time.

A disobedient kid, number one, is a grief to his mother. Look what Proverbs 10:1 says. It lays it out for you right here. "A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother." Proverbs 17:25 says, "A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him." That's what a godless son will be.

Secondly, they're a rebel to their father. A grief to mom, and they're also a rebel to daddy. Proverbs 15:5: "A fool rejects his father's discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible." Thirdly, they're not just a rebel to their daddy, they're a sorrow to Daddy, just like they were a grief to Mama. Proverbs 17:21: "He who sires a fool does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy."

Proverbs 17:25: "A foolish son is a grief to [Daddy] and bitterness to her who bore him." Proverbs 19:13: "A foolish son is destruction to his father, and the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping." It's saying, "If you ain't that kind of man, proverbially and principally, you will not have a fruitful wife and a little shoot that's going to grow to give you greater shade and joy. You have trouble a coming. Grief to Mama, rebel to Daddy, sorrow to Daddy, disaster to Daddy. They are a disgrace to his parents.

"He who assaults his father and drives his mother away is a shameful and disgraceful son," Proverbs 19:26 says. Do you see that? Does that give you fear that if you don't do what you should do as a godly man, as a godly generation of people who are modeling this for our kids? We're going to have grief, rebellion, sorrow, disaster, and disgrace.

See also: the majority of kids at Spring Break because they never had a daddy who told them that real life isn't down there at Cancun, real life is in walking with a God who brings blessedness. Daddy doesn't believe it enough to disciple his child in the way.

This is what sociologists have done. A couple of guys at Harvard, the Gluecks, a husband and wife team, went through and looked at consistent characteristics of juvenile delinquents. Look what they found. First, they said that the absence of a father's discipline, the absence of a mother's supervision, the absence of a mother and father's affection, and the absence of cohesiveness in the family, a family who spends time together, will guarantee a juvenile delinquent.

The Houston Police Department put out a little pamphlet. This is what they said. Do you want to know how to ruin your child? They said they found this to be 99 percent effective. First, you begin with infancy to give that child everything he wants. You don't do anything to restrain sin and self-indulgence in that child's life. Second, when he picks up a bad word, you laugh at him. "Isn't that cute? He learned a cuss word, called his brother stupid."

Third, never give him any spiritual training. Let him wait until he's 21 years old, and then let him decide for himself whom he's going to serve. Fourth, avoid using the word wrong because it could develop a serious guilt complex. Fifth, pick up everything he leaves lying around so he will be experienced in throwing responsibility on everybody else. And it continues on and on.

I'm telling you; all that society is doing is telling you if you're not this kind of daddy, you won't have this kind of wife, and you won't have this kind of kid, and our nation will not be the kind of nation we want. That's exactly where this psalm has gone. Look what it says in Psalm 128:4. "Behold…" If you are this kind of man, 1 and 2, you will have this kind of wife, and you will have, principally, this kind of kid, and it will be well with you who fear the Lord.

It says, "I want to see God take this kind of man, and I want to see him bless him from on high, from Zion. May you see, as you go to Jerusalem, living this kind of way, loving that kind of wife, stewarding your life toward these kinds of kids, may you see prosperity all the days of your life." God's saying, "You will." Do you want to know what makes Jerusalem a blessed place? Blessed people who fear him.

What he's saying, "You go, boy. You go produce some more. You go be that kind of man." You will see our church, our city change. How? Not by better after-school care programs, but by Mama loving those kids, by Daddy discipling those kids, by Mama and Daddy loving each other, just like the Bible says they should, and by a family that is committed to accountability and mutual sacrifice and service.

You model that for your kid, and it will make our city different, and not just our city. Look what this says. Verse 6: "Indeed, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel!" What he's saying right here is, "God bless you! May there be 10,000 folks just like you. I pray you see your children's children, and we have more and more folks just like you." That really is what's going on.

In our country, we have banquets for folks who are great people, who have made a great impact on society. We hold them up, and we honor them. That's the idea of verse 6. It's saying, "We want to hold you up as a model of what we want others to be like." Why? Because if everybody… This is a great test of truth. If you took your marriage and universalized it, you took your wife and her joy and universalized it, you took your kids and universalized their behavior, their worldview, their meaning, purpose, joy, and intention in life, would this be a better earth?

The answer is, if you're God's man, who married God's woman, and you steward your life toward God's kids who he gave you, and we walk with fear before his person, his rules, aware of our recompense, we would experience what we're looking for. To try and get it any other way is futility.

What he says is, "May there be 10,000 just like you." He says, "Peace be upon Israel!" That idea of peace is not just a lack of war; it is the blessing that Aaron gave us in Numbers 6. "May the Lord lift his face upon you, be gracious unto you. May the Lord let his countenance shine upon you and give you peace." That's the idea, which is a sense of shalom, prosperity, life as it should be. Is that what you're looking for? This is a psalm that tells you how to get it done.

Let me wrap this thing up very quickly and remind you what we're saying here today. What we're basically saying is, do you want to know how to make this life the life you want? Do you want to know how to make your life sing, in effect? The key to it starts in verses 1 and 2. It starts with a fear of God, and it starts with a love of who he is. You don't go anywhere else. Blessedness is tied to piousness, 100 percent of the time. "To rebel against any form of God's wisdom is to rebel, if you will, against gravity," to quote a good friend of mine. I agree with him.

Second, it starts with the male in the home. You may not like it, but I'm telling you, it starts with a godly man who is going to be a loving husband, who's going to be a present daddy. For us to try to work it out any other way, we will be fighting against God's intended purposes. I want to ask you guys something.

I want to ask you, when's the last time your kids interrupted you when you were reading your Bible? When's the last time your kids found you on your knees? When's the last time your kids walked in and saw you embracing your wife, loving her, holding her, just reveling in the glory that is intimacy, right there in the kitchen? Just, "I love your mom"?

When's the last time your kids, and I love the way this one guy said it, felt your heavy arm upon them in the evening, when you, with intelligence informed by theological study and discipline, prayed the blessings of Jehovah over them? Not some random, "O God, keep them safe tonight," but you prayed God's Word over them; when's the last time your kids saw that happening?

I'm telling you, men. You want to know how to turn this church around, this city around, this state, and this world around? You want to know how to turn your life around? It starts right here in Psalm 128. This church will not make a difference, we will not be salt and light until we don't just sing this song, but we as men live it.

The women of this church would consider themselves blessed and say, "The second best decision we ever made was to marry men who follow after this God, who love us and steward their lives toward us." We all have work to do here, and we need to tune ourselves toward it. This is the psalm of blessing, and it doesn't come, you'll see, simply. It comes to a nation and to a world when you have godly men and godly marriages purposing to raise godly kids. Let's pray.

Father, if there is any other solution that is ever offered to anybody here other than repentance from our ways and seeking after anything that is outside our front porch, I pray that you, Father, declare it from the pits of hell. I pray that you make the folks who profess that, and even men in this body who believe it, accursed because they preach another gospel which will not bring blessing to these fruitful women who look to see, "Is there a man in all of this town who will follow hard after God and love me?"

Father, starting with this man right here, we have work to do. I pray we would do more than sing this song at our church, that we would live it. As a result, there would be fruitfulness, and our kids would be bent toward the light and not toward corruption, darkness, and fruitlessness. Father, may you start with this message today, and you correct us. You make us a church that becomes a source of blessedness so the city sings out, "May there be 10,000 just like them," so there would be peace in this city. May there be individuals who are fully devoted followers of Christ.

Lord, if there is a man who is here today whose life is out of sync with you, so that the intelligent instructions from our brain, down through the nerve cord which is male leadership, to the body to give it life… If our back is out of whack, if you spinal column has been pushed out of alignment, I pray that you correct it today with the hand of your Word and you set it right again, so that those signals can go through that cord which is a godly, revered man and instruct the body in all the ways of life and pleasure.

Lord, as men in this church, pierce us, and as much as we seek to find blessedness in any other way but with you, rebuke us. Teach us to walk according to your way, that it might be well with us all the days of our lives. I pray for the women of this church, that they would complete us and spur us that direction.

For the single men of this church, that they would walk hard after you now, they would never settle for a girl who is less than one who is devoted to you, that they would come together and in fruitfulness and blessedness bring forth children who will grow to be olive trees that give shade, fruitfulness, and holiness to this land. May they never lower their standard, but may they strengthen their patience as they wait for you to raise up that woman.

Father, as we live this way, you will make us happy. We will sing with unending songs of how you saved our souls and delivered us from darkness into light. May that be our testimony. In Christ's name, amen.


About 'Selected Psalms: Songs of Summer, 2003, Volume 2'

Music has incredible power to touch our hearts. And some of the greatest songs ever written are found in the book of Psalms. In the Songs of Summer, volume 2, we focus on four more biblical "lyrics" to show how they capture the essence of joy, life and relationship found in Christ. You'll be challenged and encouraged as you hear how beautifully God's word speaks to the deepest needs of our hearts.