Look Well to the State of Your Vineyard

vineyard

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table. [Psalm 128:1-3]

In my two previous posts, we defined “fear of the Lord”, and then looked at the blessing of labor. In this third post I want to look at blessing on the wife of a man who fears the Lord.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;

So when a man fears the Lord and lives his life according to God’s design, it results in a fruitful wife. But what does it mean for a wife to be fruitful?

It could mean that his wife will bear many children (being fruitful physically). But I think this is too plain a reading of the text. The psalms are poetry after all, and poetry has a tendency to make allusions by saying one thing but meaning something deeper. I think that’s the case here.

I think the fruitfulness and health we are seeing pictured here, are spiritual in nature. I think the psalmist is telling us that the godly man’s wife will bear much spiritual fruit.

One type of spiritual fruitfulness the wife has, is in the discipleship of the children. As I watch my children grow in their knowledge and understanding of God and his world, that is due in no small measure to the tireless efforts of my wife to disciple these young girls. And it is a blessing and a joy to watch them grow spiritually!

The other type of spiritual fruitfulness is in the development of character associated with the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. [Galatians 5:22-23]

It’s not that the Spirit produces many different varieties of fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is singular, not plural. These qualities are like the wine reviewers attempt to explain how a particular bottle tastes. These are all descriptions of what the fruit (singular) of the Spirit tastes like. If a person is in the Spirit, then the Spirit will bring forth fruit in their lives that will taste this way.

When a man is fearing the Lord and walking according to God’s ways, his wife will follow, and the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in her life. This presupposes that the fruit is evident in the husband’s life as well.

So men, if you want a wife who is loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful (to God and to you), gentle, and self-controlled, here is the prescription. Don’t worry about her behavior and character, worry about your own. Devote yourself to following hard after Christ, walking in his ways, and fearing the Lord. Labor to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in your own life. Remember that it is the fruit of the Spirit. He is the one who causes it to grow, but he has given us responsibility to tend the vineyard. As the fruit begins to grow in your life, it will soon grow in your wife’s life as well. If you want a loving wife, you must be a loving husband.

And now I’m rethinking what it means to

…eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;

Perhaps that is a reference to the fruit of the Spirit in your marriage. If you labor at tending the vineyard that is your marriage, then you will eat the fruit of your labor, when the Spirit grows fruit of love, joy, gentleness, etc. in you and your wife.

In other words gentlemen, the timbre of your marriage, and the kind of woman your wife is, is in large degree your responsibility, and you get to live with what you have cultivated, by how you tended your own life and character. Look well to the state of your vineyard!

Part I: Fear and Fruitfulness
Part II: Facon and Failed Eyesight