Productive Parenting - Psalm 127

Dr. Steve Viars October 30, 1990 Psalms 127:

- this is going to be one of our last evenings in this study

- we've tried different methods of reviewing in hopes that

we'll all be building up our arsenal of favorite verses

- I think probably the most important test is - knowing where

that verse is found

- wouldn't you agree with me that...

- normally the procedure we would follow is - we'll think of

a phrase from a verse and say - now where is that found

- we don't normally do that in reverse (or not nearly as

much) by saying - now I just remembered a reference, what

does that verse say?

- normally its just the opposite - we'll remember a few words

from the verse and think - where's that found?

- since that’s true - let's review that way tonight

- as we go through these - be thinking - how many of those

would I have known the reference

- Zech. 4:6-Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,

saith the Lord

- Phil. 1:21 - For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain

- Isa. 40:31 - They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their

strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they

shall run and not be weary. they shall walk and not faint

- Rom 8:28-29a - And we know that all things work together

for good to them who love God, to them who are the called

according to his purpose, for whom he did foreknow, them

he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of

His Son

- Prov. 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and

lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways

acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths

- Phil. 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say


- Gal. 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ and I no longer

live, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now

life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who

loved me and gave himself for me

- Eph. 4:22-24 - That ye put off concerning the former manner

of life the old man which is corrupt according to the

deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your

mind, and that ye put on the new man which after God is

created in righteousness and true holiness

- John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his

only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should

not perish, but have everlasting life

- Matthew 28:19-20 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe all

things, whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am

with you always, even unto the end of the age

- Isa. 26:3 - Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind

is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee

- Phil. 2:5 - Let this mind be in you which was also in

Christ Jesus

- Phil. 4:6 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by

prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your

requests be made known unto God

- Psalm 40:2 - he brought me up also out of a horrible pit,

out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and

established my goings

- tonight I'd like us to look at another passage in the

Psalms which contains one of my favorite passages of


- I like this one because I usually read it when I visit a

family that has just had a new baby – that’s always a happy


- Psalm 127 (READ- be looking for three truths that must be

known and applied in order to be a productive parent)

- We're talking tonight I'd about productive parenting and

three truths we must know and apply in order to be a

productive parent

I. It Is Possible For A Parent To Work In Vain

INPUT - if you only read the first two verses of this

Psalm, what might you think it was about?

(building, city management, etc...)

- we need to see that the Psalmist is drawing this

analogy to child-raising for a specific purpose

- he's saying - it's possible for a parent to work in


A. Meaning of vanity

- there are different original words used in the

Bible that are translated "vanity" in English

- what book of the Bible do we normally think of when

we think of this word?

- Eccles. - "vanity of vanities--all is vanity"

- the word used in our passage in Psalms is a

different word

- the word here literally means empty, without worth,

without substance - a waste

- would you agree with me on this - in our language,

we would summarize these verses as follows

- Its possible for a parent to the waste their

time spent in childraising.

- now let me just ask you to think about that

statement for a moment.

- do you really agree with that?

- see, the American idea is this - If you want to

raise your children right, you've got to spend time

with them.

- I want to ask you tonight - is that statement true?

is that statement in line with what the passage is


- I want to present to you tonight, based on this

passage, that the statement "If you want to raise

your children properly, you must spend time with

them" is wrong and in fact dangerous because its so


- see, the Psalmist is saying in very strong terms

that its possible for a parent to waste their time

- its possible for a parent to work in vain

- surely you know that I'm not saying, then don't spend

time with your children

- but I am saying this, its possible for parents to be

spending time with their children

- to be satisfied with the fact that they are

spending time with their children

- when in truth, the time that they are spending is

being wasted

- in fact, I don't think we could come to any other

conclusion based on this passage

- the Psalmist is saying, a parent can waste his/her


1. even if the parent is building

- except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain

that build it

2. Even if the parent is protecting

- except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh

but in vain

3. Especially if the parent is worrying

- that’s what verse 2 is about

- even if that parent is losing sleep

- even if that parent isn't eating properly

- regardless of the sacrifice involved, its possible

for a parent to work in vain

- now let me ask you a very important question

1) Why did the Psalmist use the imagery he did in verses

1-2? (why didn't he just say - its possible for a

parent to work in vain - why all this business about

building a city, or watching a city, or rising up

early, etc.)

- I think the answer to that question comes from

thinking about who it is that is doing the writing.

- Solomon and those around him knew a lot about

building projects. He was involved in two major

ones, the building of the temple and the building of

his house. (we're not talking about a three bedroom

ranch, either)

- of course, we'll never know this side of heaven, but

I wouldn't be surprised to learn in heaven that

Solomon had composed this Psalm during one of those

building projects.

- the reason he used those analogies was to

emphasize just how much time and effort is

involved in raising children and factor that

in to this discussion.

- we're talking about something, that in the final

analysis could be a complete waste in God's eyes

- that’s one thing if its only an hour or two wasted

- but that’s not what child-raising is

- we're talking about the same kind of time it takes to

build a whole house

- to guard a whole city

- Imagine how terrible it would be to spend that great

amount of time and effort and resources in raising a

child only to learn in the end that God said that

time was spent in vain

- let me ask you tonight, have you ever spent a large

amount of time on a project, only to find later that

that time was spent in vain?

- I think most of us have (pool illus. - mucked

it all day - holiday weekend - rained - filled

with water)

- that’s what Solomon wants us to think about - and

realize its possible for that to happen with


B. Method of vanity

- I think the next question we have to think about

is - what makes a parent's work vain?

- what makes the time a parent spends "vain


- the passage answers those questions clearly -

except the Lord....

- now we need to think about exactly what that

means or exactly what that looks like

- how would you fill in this blank, if the Lord is

involved in a person's parenting, ___________

- I'll keep His goals in mind

- I'll be asking for His help

- our relationship with Him will be a natural

part of all we do

- see, except the Lord build the house, they labor

in vain that build it

- now, let's think about this - What would be true of a

parent who neglected this truth in relationship to

their building? (referring back to point 1.)

- see the passage doesn't say stop building, but

what would be true of a parent who was building

but wasn't emphasizing this truth?

- activity oriented without being goal-oriented

- see, I'm convinced that some of us have fallen for

the American idea on this (If you want to raise

children properly, spend more time with them)

- for example, some have thought, take your son to

little league, and he'll be more godly because you

spent more time with him, when in fact, some dads

have spent time with their sons at little league

and the son has turned out less godly as a result

- question that I think all of us need to answer

tonight is - is it possible that you have

neglected this idea in your view of parenting

- another way of asking that would be - in what

ways have you emphasized this truth?

(its not just a matter of spending time, but

it must be God-centered time)

- I hope you'd say some things like - when I'm

in the car with my child - it would be

perfectly natural for us to pray about

something while we're going from point "a" to

point "b"

- it would be natural for us when we're making

a purchase to ask what principles from the

Bible would apply

- yes I'm building, but truly its the Lord who is building

the house

- now there one other thing I think we need to address

while we're on this point

- what would be true of a parent who neglected this

truth in relationship to their protecting (except the

Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain)

(worrying, overprotection, overanxious care)

- obviously, in this day and age, we have to be very

careful - there's nothing wrong with being a parental


- as long as that doesn't transfer into - I want to

be God in their life

- see, its possible for a parent to do that, isn't


- if I'm careful enough, my child can never get


- if I'm protective enough, no harm will ever come

- sometimes we get our definition of safety messed


- safety isn't - nothing harmful ever happens to my


- safety is - "I'll do what I can to protect them,

but I'll also realize that God is in control and

he is too good to wrong and too wise to make a


- if that’s not there, the time spent worrying instead is in


- so its possible for a parent to work in vain

- its not enough to spend time with my child - it must be

God-centered time

- now I think the next question that flows out of that is

- how can I be sure that I'm not spending my parenting

time vainly? Verse 3 addresses that:

- by recognizing how:

II. "Vain Parenting" Can Be Prevented

read verse 3

- now remember, this is the first direct mention of

children in this passage

- this is the first time Solomon really tells us what his

subject matter is

- that makes it even more important to look carefully at

what he's saying

- what will prevent vain parenting?

A. Recognize that children are a gift

INPUT - how does the concept of stewardship fit in

here? (our children belong to God, He has

loaned them to us)

- perhaps it would be best to picture it this way

- lets say you were going out of town and you

asked me to watch your dog Rover

- you bring him over before you leave and give

me a list of instructions on how to care for


- you want him to eat a certain way, get so much

exercise, stay off the furniture, etc.

- you come back later and walk in the house

- you don't see Rover

- there is some animal laying on the couch, which

strikes you as odd since when you left I didn't

have a dog

- you say - well, where's rover - "That’s him on the


- you say - that can't be Rover - he's laying on the

couch - I told you I didn't want rover on the

furniture - "I know, but I decided it was OK for

Rover to do that"

- Wait, that still can't be rover - that dogs fifty

pounds heavier than rover - "I know - I didn't

like the diet you suggested, so I've been feeding

him twinkys and moon pies"

- I can't believe this - but that still can't be

rover - that dog doesn't have a tail - "well, I

don't like dogs with tails - the vet said the

procedure was painless"

- but wait, that still can't be rover - that dog is

gray, and rover is red - "I know, but red clashed

with my furniture, so I had him painted"

- now, let me ask you - if that was you - what would

you be saying to me? (wait a minute, that’s not

your dog - its my dog - you were supposed to

follow my instructions, and you had no right

making decisions and changing policies without

consulting me - Rover doesn't belong to you)

- some parents have forgotten that children are a


- some parents have decided - I want my child to be

the basketball star - or the beauty queen, we'll

do whatever it takes to get that - they've

forgotten that children are gift

- others have said - I don't like this Bible business

or that Bible business - we're going to change

that - they've forgotten that children are a gift

- I wonder if there aren't times that God would like to

shake us real good and say - that child belongs to me

- see, how do I prevent parenting that is worthless or a

waste in God's eyes? - by remembering that our children

are gifts - ultimately they don't belong to us

- also by remembering this - they're not just any gift:

B. Recognize that children are God's gift

- you see how that all fits together

- we won't spend time that’s not God-centered if we

remember that God gave them to us

- that idea has been driven home dramatically in the

last couple of days for Kris and I

- you may have wondered why the Viars tribe didn't

have more Indians in it

- the answer is - Kris and I have been trying to have

more children for over 3 years and haven't been

able to

- we have had many of the tests done and decided that

in our case, we wouldn't get involved in any of the

"heroic" measures available to have a baby

- we started working with an adoption organization

- Sunday night we received a call that a baby was


- the baby's mom found out she was pregnant at an

abortion clinic, but she was too far along to have

an abortion

- so Kris and I have a new baby daughter

- Karis - the greek word for Grace

- I'm here tonight to say that our God is a gracious


- children are a gift from Him

- even if you got yours in a more conventional method

- they're still his gift

- I've been asking God, that I'd never forget that

- it would be evident:

- in the way we spend our time

- how we teach

- how we correct

- the goals that we set

- the way we handle trials

- that the parenting wouldn't be vain because we forgot that

children are God's gift

- this passage also contains some great promises:

III. Godly Parenting Is Productive

- now even if this wasn't true - we'd still have to obey

verses 1-3 because its right

- we also can't get deterministic with these verses

because children have a free will - and sometimes they

choose to go bad even when their parents have done a

good job

- but having said that - we still need to major on the

promises given to parents who work in way that could be

characterized as the Lord building the house, and the

Lord keeping the city

A. They can accomplish much

- see, what's true of arrows in the hand of a mighty man?

- they can be aimed

- they can be propelled

- they can accomplish much

- Proverbs says - A wise son makes a glad father

- some of you have made your parents very glad

because of the way you've grown up and are serving

the Lord

- you've been like the arrow in the hand of a mighty


- God has helped some of you have raise children who

would fit that description

- God didn't have to work it out this way but often

times a parent can enjoy direct benefit from being

an obedient parent

- as he or she watches his children and

grandchildren go on and accomplish things for


B. They can bring great blessing

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video